Thursday, April 19, 2007
Artists whinging about money is unedifying and demeaning, but on this occasion it appears justified. In the midst of careful strategic planning, lobbying and development by the Arts Council the Department for Culture Media and Sport and let it be known (bad news is, if possible, never announced), the Grants4Arts fund, which delivers National Lottery cash to arts organisations, is to be cut by 35% next year.
This is the fund that helped underwrite Of All The People In All The World’s UK tour in 2005 and is contributing significantly to The Cleansing Of Constance Brown being made. As we receive some revenue funding from Arts Council England we try not to bid into Grants4Arts much, but when we do it is for projects we feel are highly significant for the companies development. A 35% cut spell bad news for us, but potential disaster for companies and individuals without revenue funds and without our momentum and reputation, at an earlier stage in development.
It would be galling enough if the money were a direct transfer from Artists to Athletes, but in truth the money will go to building contractors and security guards. The whole country is paying for urban regeneration in East London, a worthy cause indeed, but not something that should rob us all of cultural opportunities.
Chopping budgets around until they balance is a swift business for accountants, but developing a strong culture takes much time and continuity. This sporting spasm, for all its talk of sporting legacy, will leave an equivalent bleak artistic legacy. This is a shame both for those who value their art and those who value their sport, as what should be a great celebration is rapidly stirring up resentment and cynicism. For those of us who value both sport and art is a double disappointment.
Prepare to tighten your belts, we may need some lumber support.
They bent over backwards to point out that this was not so much the LONDON Olympics, but a BRITISH Olympics. Well of course they were right in one respect, as while the capital will reap the rewards, the rest of the country can enjoy coughing up for it.
"With the massive reduction of funds from Grants for the Arts to the Olympics; artists, and thousands of them, are having to retrain as sportspeople to ensure balance is maintained in our society.
To assist with the retraining of thought and body that is essential in facilitating this shift, an artistic sports day is being organised for the 26th May, on Hackney Marshes in East London (large parts of which are being developed for the Olympic site).
We need competitors, equipment and ideas for sports such as dry-land synchronised swimming, the fifteen-legged race and tranny-boxing. We need bunting and stewards, poster-makers and banner painters, publicists, musicians and photographers.
Let us know how you can contribute, tell us you're coming, share your excitement at the forthcoming change in career, write to us please, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s embrace this time together, enjoy the sunshine and let the non-artists amongst us know exactly what is happening."
Luke Smith, Project Manager, The Arts Debate