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 Post subject: British Dance Politics
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 10:45 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Alastair Macaulay writes about the politics of government funding of dance in Britain in the New York Times.

NY Times


Last edited by Francis Timlin on Tue May 04, 2010 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: British Dance Politica
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 5:58 am 
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Location: London UK
Putting aside my amazement that the readers of the New York Times could be remotely interested in the subject of UK government funding of dance projects, I think it highly unlikely that even the most avid dance fan would consider arts funding a priority in Thursday’s election, let alone allowing it to influence how one votes.

The British government is struggling with a budget deficit of no less than £67 billion and cuts in public spending will have to be severe.

Quote:
The one party that has pledged to protect arts financing is the Liberal Democrats. Though ranking third in Parliament, the party received an immense boost when its leader, Nick Clegg, was widely considered the winner this month of Britain’s first televised election debate among the three party leaders. The Conservative Party, which has said it would make extensive cuts in state funds (though it would reroute more lottery money toward the arts), is ahead in the polls, but no longer by a large margin. The Labour Party’s policy on arts financing remains vague.


Indeed Mr Clegg did win that ill-advised televised beauty contest recently broadcast, but whether this translates into actual votes remains to be seen, rather worryingly though, all three parties are vague on their plans for cuts after the election and none have adequately portrayed the seriousness of the predicament the country is currently in. For the record the Conservatives plan the biggest cuts and the Liberals the smallest but in the run up to the election no details are forthcoming, in fact the planned cuts the parties admit to only add up to between 15-25% of the current deficit, leaving 75-85% to be accounted for. The parties’ lack of honesty on this score is because they are afraid of scaring the electorate with the facts.

I wouldn’t presume to predict where the axe will fall but education is likely to be an early casualty and I imagine an increase in VAT (the purchase tax on all goods and services with a few exceptions, e.g. food) is likely too, though don’t forget this will cause an increase in the price of theatre tickets. The timing of these cuts is crucial though as there is a real threat of a ‘double dip’ recession occurring if they are made too soon, something only the present Labour government seems to be bearing in mind. When spending cuts are made a huge number of people will become unemployed and although cuts to the over-blown public sector won’t upset the general public that much, there is likely to be a domino effect of firms providing goods and services to that sector going under too. Fewer people working equals a lower tax take and a downward spiral commences.

Although the UK isn’t struggling with a mountain of debt as great as that in Greece, it is still a mind boggling sum that will take the best part of a generation to repay. How the public reacts to future events remains to be seen, but the public sector is heavily unionized so protests at the inevitable job losses are guaranteed and although Brits are not as volatile as the Greeks it is worth remembering that the Poll Tax riots in the early ‘90’s brought down Margaret Thatcher.

So very serious stuff all round and I’m afraid the arts must fend for themselves as there are dark days ahead. Cast your vote carefully as there are far bigger issues at stake.


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 Post subject: Re: British Dance Politics
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 4:31 am 
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The BBC has come out with an article about likely future arts policies of the hybrid Con-Dem coalition (I’ll give it 18 months, tops).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8678797.stm

The 66m in cuts that the department needs to make will of course be spread over the sport and media divisions as well as the arts, but I expect to see cuts affecting arts organizations across the board.

With 2012 and the Olympics fast approaching it will put this Ministry firmly in the spotlight. There was always huge opposition to the Olympics in London, not least because Londoners are forced to bear the brunt of the costs and many people think it’s not too late to scrap the entire white elephant and let China (our country’s creditors) stage them a second time. The Athens Olympics cost so much that it helped tip that country over into bankruptcy and the 2012 event is already way over budget and is likely to put a massive strain on the UK’s already fragile finances.

The new coalition has made compromises on all sides but to imagine the new government consists of equal partners would be spectacularly naïve and I imagine that whatever kind mutterings Nick Clegg may have made towards the arts in the past, in reality as the junior partner in this odd misalliance his views are likely to count very little. Anyway, we won’t be in the dark for too long as the Con-Dems are planning to announce their spending cuts within fifty days. Economists are divided regarding the timing of the cuts, though most feel that to follow the US model of spending to get out of depression (ironically championed by the now ousted Prime Minister Gordon Brown) would have been the more sensible option, with cuts taking place when the UK economy is in a fitter state to bear them. However with a Chancellor one wouldn’t let near an abacus, let alone the UK economy, I can predict mass unemployment and civil unrest happening very soon.


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 Post subject: Re: British Dance Politics
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:41 am 
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One of the UK's best political commentators, Polly Toynbee, has written an interesting article about cuts to the general arts budget in Britain:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... ig-society

She makes a good argument for arts as investment, but I still feel the Ministry should make cuts in the sport budget rather than the arts particularly with only two years to go till the Olympics and reports coming in almost daily about how costs are spiralling out of control.

Ignore the comments by readers at the end as the Guardian comments pages are invariably taken over by government sponsored trolls. Though working in economics I do sometimes wonder at the sheer brass neck of these people.


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 Post subject: Re: British Dance Politics
PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:49 am 
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The dreaded and much heralded Spending Cuts have finally been announced, here is exactly how much the arts (and sport - the two are inexorably linked I'm afraid) budgets are cut:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010 ... ew-council

If any major dance companies suffer as a direct result, I'll report in full.


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