I don’t know any ballet fan who would object like you to spending the taxpayers’ money on a company like ENB.
FWIW I am a ballet fan and it is precisely because
I am a ballet fan that I object to taxpayers' money being spent on a company like ENB (or any area of the arts for that matter).
I have come to object to it after deciding to approach the whole subject from the perspective of reason and evidence (rather than like a starving beggar with outstretched hand, grateful for any donation - no matter where it comes from).
Firstly, let's call a spade a spade. Government arts funding is welfare for art. By definition it already indicates a failure and a crisis - rather than being an acceptable, or viable, long term strategy.
Those organisations that choose to accept this welfare, celebrate it and rely on it are as hopelessly trapped as your stereotypical dysfunctional family living on the dole and unable or unwilling to get out of this meagre and demeaning existence. And those who support this relationship of dependency from afar are also helping to keep all parties trapped in this most unhealthy and unproductive (and ultimately doomed) relationship by endorsing it (by making it socially acceptable).
That is NOT to say arts organisation and other 'scroungers' don't deserve our sympathy or support. Government welfare is a trap, after all, and likely one which arts organisations have inherited - just as poor young people often inherit a life on the dole in a community which (again, not unlike the arts community) shares its knowledge about how best to exploit the system to secure maximum funding. (note: I use the provocative term 'scroungers' deliberately for its shock value! I am trying to make everyone feel uncomfortable here)
In any case, the plight of arts organisations scrounging a meagre existence 'on the dole' (so to speak) is our plight too, as supporters of arts. But alongside our sympathy they/ we deserve to be reminded of the hard truths and encouraged to break free of this relationship of dependance - at least to break free in our thinking
if nothing else!Confronting the reality of a bad situation, and trying to understand it, is the first step to getting out of it.
I am not suggesting breaking free of this arts welfare is going to be easy or going to happen overnight. Although if (when?) the economy really starts to tank and the government's debts become completely unsustainable, circumstance might demand we break free of government funding sooner rather than later ........ if only because the puddle has already dried up! So rather than delay, why not at least start thinking
about where we are, how on earth we got here and what better alternatives we might be able to create for ourselves. Thinking costs nothing, after all... it's one thing we can
still afford to do.
I am assuming we all agree that successfully breaking free of the reliance on (the always insufficient and now rapidly dwindling supply of) government welfare for the arts would be the ideal scenario in an ideal world......all agreed?
If so, here are a few points which I think are worth considering.
The government has no incentive to provide a 'cure' for arts welfare (or any other kind of welfare for that matter). This is because if society could adequately organise and fund itself there would be no need for that part of government which secures and distributes funding. Those who provide remedies for colds have no incentive to provide a cure
for colds or to promote ways to prevent
catching colds in the first place. This is just the basic law of incentives.
Also if it didn't provide some degree of welfare to the arts (or to the unemployed and so on) the government would have less justification for its taxation of the public, which it needs to pay for all of its other (typically less popular and less morally justifiable) endeavours. Taxation is a government's only income. If our tax money was used ONLY to fund bankster bailouts, illegal wars, unpopular political unions and MP's lavish expense accounts we may not be so accepting and compliant with respect to being taxed, especially during this time of economic collapse.
To put it bluntly, the idea
(if not the disappointing reality) that 'taxes provide us with all the nice things we want like the hospitals and the arts' is the primary method used to justify taxation. It is how taxation is explained and justified to us, both morally and practically, when we are children (in government run schools, I hasten add).
The logic we are all taught as children is as follows:
Government taxation is used to provide public service (or public funding) 'X'
government taxation, public service (or public funding) 'X' could not be provided.
In other words: governments reflect the will of the people, yet they must use force against the people (threat of fines or even imprisonment for non payment of taxes) otherwise the people would never choose to adequately provide (pay for) the things they wanted for themselves voluntarily.
This is (to put it politely) is not very logical at all.
For a start it automatically implies governments actually do
provide (adequate) public service and public funding, yet for the arts the issue has always been that they don't
, and recent cuts in subsidy would seem to support this accusation! It also implies government taxation is the most sensible and efficient way to fund and generally support the arts. But is it? Is it even remotely sensible or efficient?
It also implies that without government taxation (which, remember, is based on extracting money by force) the public would not be willing to support the arts voluntarily (ie without force being used against them). If that is true then it would imply we actually don't
want to support the arts after all, in which case everyone is happy!
But let's stick with this argument for a moment.... if forced taxation was abolished I wonder what else we might choose to not fund voluntarily? How about bailouts to criminal banking corporations? Genocidal illegal wars? Wasteful government quangos, ridiculous expenses, membership of unwanted political unions, endless wasteful, bloated and unnecessary (or even destructive) 'initiatives' and 'schemes'....?
Would we really
refuse to voluntarily fund the arts - of all things! - if taxation by force was actually abolished? Or, might we instead choose to not pay for a whole bunch of other stuff we don't care for, allowing us to then transfer all that saved money onto the stuff we actually do care about and value such as the arts (or scuba diving centres, or youth and community centres, local parks, an even better standard of healthcare, or exploring space and generally improving our quality of life/ standard of living the world over)?
we choose to direct our productivity and spend our wealth, both individually and collectively, if the right to choose for ourselves (as responsible grown ups) was ever given back to us (or simply reasserted)?
It's a 'dangerous', but exciting question isn't it?
Imagine a list of all the things payed for by taxation in order of cost and then imagine comparing it with a list of what people would actually choose to spend their money on, if they had the choice. I bet for just about everyone, supporting the arts would rank far higher as a priority, given the choice, than it currently does right now in the hands of the state. This would indicate the government is acting against
the will of the public, using the threat and use of force/ violence. That's something to ponder the next time you praise government funding....
This brings me onto my last point. Does the government even care about the arts? And doesn't this question matters rather a lot, given the huge effect it has on the arts?! It is generally assumed
that because the government throws some money at the arts it must therefore 'care about the arts' and 'support the arts'. Yet we all know the argument which says that by throwing a fiver at the helpless homeless alcoholic as you walk by him everyday you're actually helping to keep him perpetually trapped in that powerless and dependent state of existence.
Hypothetically speaking, if some agency with a penchant for social control wanted to (a) gain some control over the arts and (b) prevent the arts from really evolving and thriving to a point where they are beyond your control, I can't think of a better way of doing that than enticing them with gifts of 'free money' to eventually become dependent on you for funding, and then to keep giving them just about enough funding to exist on (enough to keep them dependent on you anyway), but never quite enough to that they can truly prosper and grow and perhaps one day become self sufficient. Perhaps this is all just a coincidence though - it's probably just my over imaginative mind!
But in many ways ulterior motives and odious agendas don't really matter that much anyway. We don't need
to guess at how much 'the government' does or doesn't care about the arts because we can test how much 'the government' actually values
the arts empirically. Here are two quick tests:
1. Compare the amount of tax money they allocate to the arts relative to the amount of tax money they allocate to military weapons, wars, bankster bailouts, membership of political unions, high speed railways, subsidising failed 'green' schemes like wind energy, belonging to the organisations like the IMF and endless 'initiatives' and 'schemes' all of which costs millions and millions (or billions) of pounds. Many of these other schemes get a virtual blank cheque (of our money). How many times do you read headlines such as "ill conceived city centre tram scheme is already running 5 years late, public outraged as the cost to taxpayer triples to a staggering £8 billion"?
Are these dodgy 'no bid' contractors, agencies, corporations or bureaucratic institutions forced to work 7 days a week and sweat it out trying to produce excellence with meagre and finite allocated taxpayer funds, like most people in the arts world have to? No way! The government let's them get away with blue murder and willingly pays for all of their costly mistakes, cock ups and 'budget miscalculations' - no questions asked - The government says "Don't worry, here have some more money!!! It's not ours anyway!!" ..... Meanwhile, the major and minor arts organisation of the nation dare not go one penny over their relative shoestring budgets. No slack is given. And hardly any funds either. Just a tiny drop in the ocean.
2. This is perhaps the most clear measure of the government's true attitudes towards the arts: government education.
Government education is not just inadequate in terms of educating (inspiring) children about the arts, government education actually suppresses
our natural artistic, creative, receptive, imaginative, artistic sides. Schools actually damage that side of our brain by suppressing its development. Schools focus on and feed the non creative, non artistic, linear thinking, competitive, rigid and inflexible, compartmentalising side of the brain. And this devastating imbalance is no accident. Anyone who researches where the current system of education actually comes from will soon come to the conclusion that this is all by design. Our education system is actually based on the Prussian system - a system which we are now seeing has exactly the same devastating effect on the population wherever it is implemented.
A brief overview of the Prussian system of schoolinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okPnDZ1TxloThe very agency which deliberately destroys artistic development in children is the same agency we go to, and rely on, to support and nurture the arts in society? Hello? Could this just maybe be the root cause of the perpetual crisis and demoralising lack of adequate support facing the arts?
Government welfare for the arts ensures that the arts are always starving .... and begging. This keeps the arts world in a permanently demoralised state which is inevitably reflected in the art we see all around us. Ironically, only those who have completely sold out and lost all integrity and vision can work freely in this environment of subsidy - because only they are willing to make the kind of meaningless, crowd pleasing, social event, touchy-feely, soulless, dehumanising, anti intellectual art most favoured by the state. Anyone with genuine integrity and their own vision must accept being harnessed up and half starved like a horse working the fields.
Government welfare for the arts also ensures the public remains unwilling to directly support the arts. You see, that's not their business - that's what they pay taxes for after all! Why should they pay twice?! Government funding trains the public to feel absolutely no responsibility whatsoever for the state of the arts and their 'culture'. They are trained to see it as none of their business, when it should be their freedom and responsibility. The general public's complete lack of interest in the (dire state of the) arts then becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.
Government welfare for the arts drives a wedge between the public and the arts (socially, economically and psychologically), it then moves in and assumes responsibility for looking after the arts on the public's behalf, but then consistently fails to provide adequate support for the arts and instead keeps the major (and minor) arts organisations on a leash and permanently starving. One could also use the word: enslaved.
These are just a few
of the reasons why I object to government funding of the ENB, or any other arts organisation for that matter.
I have not even touched on the moral
issue of organisations using threats of violence to fund themselves, which we all (I assume) would find objectionable if the ENB did it directly
(ie approached members of the public and forced them to cough up funding or else get thrown in a cage).... but which we seem to find perfectly acceptable, just as long as they use a third party to make the threats and collect the money (that third party being the state of course). Something else to ponder when you cheer government funding of the arts....
I do apologise for the mega post, it's impossible to make any of these points without including a fair bit of explanation. If anyone wishes to discuss any of this further (or argue vehemently against me) feel free to start up a new thread.