The Evil Imp

Save Your Sympathy

Whilst most people in the arts are infuriated about the huge cuts being made to funding by ACE there are some that have expressed sympathy for the funding giant because the cuts are really being made by the Government so the ire of the masses should be focused on them.

Indeed the Government, specifically the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), is responsible for assigning money, via the Treasury, to the various quangos that live under its wing.

Arts Council England is a non governmental bridge between the general public and the elected officials and civil servants at the DCMS.

Not only are they responsible for providing a coherent policy for the arts in England and processing funding applications in a professional, timely and ethical manner, they are also responsible for ensuring that the arts are protected from government interference and fighting tooth and nail to ensure funding levels increase.

This, in turn, ensures growth within the arts, more jobs, greater depth in our culture and this, over all, makes the country a nicer place to live in. We’re not going to make the case for the arts again, in this article, you can click around Article19 and get plenty of that.

When massive cuts in funding happen as a result of the Olympics and the Government can impose those cuts with impunity it is because ACE have failed to make a case for the arts. They have failed to imprint the importance of culture into the psyche of the general public and they have failed miserably to make the arts an unassailable cornerstone of day to day life in this country. A cornerstone that politicians are so terrified of messing with they would rather cut of their own arms instead.

Arts funding is not about giving pretentious people the opportunity to mess about in studios up and down the land because they can’t get a “proper job”. Yes, there are a more than a few wasters in the arts, but that is true of any profession.

Real jobs are at stake here because of the cuts that have already been made and the further cuts that are expected in the near future. This is not an abstract argument. Artists have lives to lead, they have mortgages and rent to pay, children to raise and food to buy, just like the factory worker or the school teacher and their job is just as important.

Don’t cry for the Chief Executive of ACE, Peter Hewitt, either, who will be leaving his job soon with a pension worth over £400,000. Not bad for a man who just cut £30 million from a primary funding budget.

ACE is quick to claim credit when funding levels go up. Gerry Robinson, the former chair of ACE, was always banging on about how he managed to get his friends in Government to hand over more money.

We can deal with the politicians in elections. We can deal with ACE more directly by letting them know exactly what we think of their actions over the last few months. Don’t be under any illusions, this mess is their responsibility.