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THE Arts Council

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

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Innocent abroad: late night return ruled out public transport as option for yesterday’s Brighton day trip so casually decided to visit Farnham Maltings ‘on the way’ – turns out to be far from ‘on the way’. It was worth the trip though, the Maltings team speak a lot of sense and their philosophy for encouraging theatre seems spot on – the building’s impressive too.

The day’s main event, after catching up briefly on Amanda Hadingue’s adventures with Complicite was dinner with the Arts Council. Continue reading “THE Arts Council” »

Politics

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Today I was invited to the launch of Birmingham’s “Creative City” initiative. A light buffet had been laid on but I knew it would be bad to eat any of it. Half-jokingly I told people I was boycotting it. Continue reading “Politics” »

Juice for the Arts

Friday, July 16th, 2010

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OK, following the Theatre Pledge it’s time for a new campaign: Juice for the Arts.

Here is the plan. Currently the arts budget in the UK works out at 17p per person per week. This is the amount of VAT currently charged on this bottle of Juice. So, if enough of us make a pledge to the new coalition government to buy Juice for the Arts once a week then they in turn should promise not to carry through with the terrifying plans the Arts Council briefed all the region’s Regularly Funded [Arts] Organisations on Monday.

I can’t see a downside. The juice is delicious, keeps us healthy (though this Cranberry drink is weirdly non-nutritious), pays for the arts and supports Purity Soft Drinks based in The Black Country. Of course according to this plan when the new higher rate of VAT is introduced next year rather than looking at 25-30% cuts the arts will be looking at a 14% increase in funding.

“OK!” I hear you cry “We’re behind you on your Juice for the Arts campaign, how do we make it a reality?” Well, writing to your MP would be a good thing to do at the very least and if you know someone who isn’t an artist and they write to their MP they would count for about ten of us because “we would say that wouldn’t we”.

For those of you who think Juice for the Arts is a brilliant idea but too visionary for this amalgam of choppers there is something else you can do and it doesn’t even require the ‘bother’ of writing to your MP.

RFOs have been cut by 0.5% this year, it’s almost certain to be 10% next year and thereafter its going to get really very bloody. 25% is imagined to pretty much kill off everyone so it will have to be 100% for some with gaining some kind of reprieve. The provocative suggestion from one of our Board was to kill off one of London’s four orchestras, not just for the +£2,000,000 you’d save but because it would really stir up people who actually have some lobbying power. Anyway, back to it…

There is some good news if you are not an RFO and get money from Grants for the Arts. This money comes not from central government but from the lottery so not only is it not being cut, but there is a chance that it may grow. A while back the Olympics started to take a cut of Lottery cash and the proportion going to each of the ‘good causes’ was cut. The debate is now on, should the division be restored? A consultation is now on and YOUR VOICE is needed to argue for the arts getting back to where it was before. Please stay on-line and do your thing here.
Still reading and not gone and done your thing there? Well about-turn and do it because as soon as the axe comes down on the RFOs they’re going to be scrambling for that G4A cash and it’s going to turn pretty bloody bloody there too.

FINALLY. In my quest to find a quotidian product that costs £1.17 inc VAT I found a Pork Pie which cost 99p and is VAT exempt. This raises the possibility of a counter campaign VAT Pork for Art. Superficially you would imagine the proposed introduction of VAT on Pork Pies to pay the country’s art bill would encounter fierce opposition from the Pork Pie Manufactures lobby but they could be won around with the prospect of millions across the country upping their Pork Pie intake. Craig and I ran trials on Pork Pie consumption in the late Nineties whilst making Nightshifting and then The Hearing of Susan Tuesday with de Montfort University Students in Melton Mowbray and would be happy to endorse this campaign as well.

If you can think of anything better than Juice or Pork Pies which could pull us out of this crisis do get in touch.

Cutters and Donors

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Just before Christmas a cheque for £50 arrived in the Stan’s Cafe office.

This week one of our agents sent us this link. It outlines the shadow culture secretary’s proposals for arts funding should the Tories win the general election. In precis it runs something like this…

…don’t worry, although I can’t promise not to cut Arts Funding we are going to encourage a U.S. style culture of patronage…

which can be translated as…

…we’re certainly going to cut Arts Funding but don’t worry we’re also going to give tax breaks encouraging people to donate to the arts. So you can sort it out between you.

Stan’s Cafe have been beneficiaries of U.S. patronage. An anonymous donor paid a five figure sum in order to bring Of All The People In All The World back to Los Angeles and the Skirball Cultural Centre. The Skirball is an amazing place. It has been built and run entirely on donations and earned income and so is exactly the model the Tories are dreaming of but I don’t believe the model is transferable.

The Skirball is a Jewish Cultural Center built on Hollywood’s door step there could be no situation primed better for philanthropic giving. Every element of the building is named after a donor and watching the Center’s charismatic Director Uri D. Herscher at work, showing an immaculately turned out late thirty something couple around, it all makes sense, but it all makes sense there, in that context.

Elsewhere in the US in smaller towns, with more marginal work, the arts funding situation is absolutely dire.

There is a story of an Arts Centre in London, built with donated money, where the major donor has returned demanding rights over the venue as a payback for the donation.

We took good advice, put in a decent effort and comprehensively failed to raise any sponsorship money for a bigger version Of All The People In All The World show in our home city. This was a commercial opportunity not us seeking charity and we got no where.

Big UK arts institutions are already doing all they can to raise sponsorship and court donors, it’s not as if a funding cut is ‘required’ to prod them into action.

A few years back the current government relaxed licensing laws saying it would encourage a more relaxed Continental approach to alcohol. With no apparent affect. Cultures are difficult to change.

In short, the US model is deeply flawed and we are a million miles away from being able to deliver that model as well as they do.

In long, the arguments are rehearsed better, longer, in more detail and breadth here.

And the £50 cheque? Our first ever UK donation. Someone sent it, unsolicited, for the furtherance of our cause. I would be overcooking it a tad to say opening that enveloped moved me as much as meeting our anonymous American patron, but it was very touching, and a little humbling nevertheless.


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