News: Arts cuts, UK Culture

Tate Modern London

Some UK developments this week? I’m watching avidly from Singapore. A quick summary:

Firstly we had Harriet Harman halting plans to slash Newcastle arts budget by 100% (The council’s draft budget proposed a total funding cut to all the city’s arts organisations, and also proposed cutting its grants to museums by 50% and to libraries by 60%.)

Harriet Harman talks to The Guardian about this, saying:

“The reality is there is not going to be a 100% cut to the arts in Newcastle. Across the board, whether it comes to capital funding or revenue funding they will be supporting the arts.”

“We do need to have a much greater way of writing the arts and culture into the future of Britain in the way the Olympic ceremony did.” That hesitation in acknowledging what was being done in the arts [in the past] made it all the easier, she says, for the coalition to make cuts: “It has been easier for them to chop something that for most people has been invisible.”

“Connected to this observation is the notion that the idea of subsidy – taxpayers’ money going into the arts – should be celebrated, she says. “If you go to the theatre or a gallery and see the list of benefactors, the biggest benefactor is the taxpayer, and that should be at the top and celebrated and acknowledged. But actually, you are lucky if you see a microscopic Arts Council England logo.”

There is a need, she says, to “be confident and assertive about the role of subsidy. You sometimes get the impression in other European countries that they feel more at ease with the idea of subsidy, that it’s not a sign of weakness that the arts and creative industries are subsidised – it’s a powerful message of confidence in them from public policy. And we are talking about subsidy not investment, because investment implies some kind of immediate calculable return – whereas it’s really a much longer, deeper process. So we need to remake the arguments. And the fact is that the arts have repaid the confidence in them over those years a hundredfold.”

Read full Guardian article >

Earlier this year Guardian included my thoughts on the value of the arts in Guardian Culture’s 100 voices, and if you want to read a little more about what the arts has meant to me, many other artists and creatives, as well as those without an artistic bone in their body, I penned some thoughts about it here provoking great responses from you all. Let me know what you think: A Case For Culture – England loses 30% of its arts council budget

Other newsart will remain in the curriculum! “Education secretary Michael Gove, speaking at the Commons on Thursday, says he will not press ahead with plans to scrap GCSEs. Gove had suggested an English baccalaureate certificate should replace GCSEs, but received pressure from the Liberal Democrats to abandon the plans. Despite the concession, Gove insists there is still consensus that the system needs to change” See the letter delivered to Number 10 from 100 creative industry and education leaders here.

This is excellent news and we helped make this happen together. However, the EBacc league table remains in place. Organisation ‘Bbac for the Future’ says: You can act now! This means that there will still be a league table at GCSE level and at A-level which is devaluing and downgrading creative subjects. Please write you your MP about the EBacc and A-level league tables

Less positive news for Scottish local authority, Moray council, who approved 100% cut in arts funding (as well as removal of subsidised bus services as part of £30m cuts package)

what do you think....?

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