Funding the Arts

Have you noticed how they always wheel out some expert from the IEP (Institute of Economic Parasites), whenever the question of arts funding comes up. He invariably moots that arts funding should be scrapped altogether. Only people like him, with lots of money, should have the arts!

People don’t want arts funding they say – as if they know. They want the country’s money spent on health and education, not the arts.

Has anyone asked him why people prefer to live in and visit Florence, rather than Dusseldorf; or St Petersburg, rather than Vladivostok?

The difficulty with claiming that public money should not be spent on the arts,  is that it begs further questions:

-Do people want public money spent on bombs dropped on other countries?

-Do people want public money spent on nuclear power stations?

-Do people want public money spent on the road that leads to the experts house, or for his bins to be collected, or the lights in his neighbourhood switched on…? It is a degenerate argument. If you want to live without public expenditure, go back to the cave. Everything handed down to us, has come from public money, or more accurately – people creating, making and doing things for others.

The argument runs that the more money people have in their own pocket, the better the economy will be. It’s not true – it only means their pockets will be heavily laden and probably soon develop holes. Rather: the more people are engaged in creative and productive work, the better our economy will be. Of course we need to spend public money on education (to paraphrase Adam Smith, a nation needs to ensure its people are not stupid). We need to spend more on our health: fitness and well-being and perhaps less on sickness and drugs. We need to spend more public money on housing, so that people live comfortably and safely.

The problem is, every time you drop a bomb on another country, you cause destruction, you nurture implacable enemies, you waste the weapon itself and all the havoc it causes – so you’re on to a quadruple loss (and a single win – creating jobs, but in an overwhelming negative cycle).

The great thing about creative art is designing, making and producing things for others, usually by people who love what they do. You create employment, you nurture interest, you generate ideas, you promote discussion, joy, feeling, happiness, anger, pleasure.

There will be statements and exhibitions that provoke outrage and dismay. That is because someone has to stand up to the bombers, the experts and the wreckers.

The great thing about investing in the arts is you improve the quality of life, and develop at least a quadruple win: creating jobs, generating interest and visitors, improving the standard of living, producing things of value, handing on to future generations a legacy.

Compare that to the value of an expert from the IEP, or whatever institution. His words drift away into the ether, his emails deleted, his printed text into the bin within a week.

Go and get yourself a proper job man. Do something useful for a change. Why not help your elderly neighbour with her shopping. You’ll find she talks a lot more sense than you do. Try listening for a change.

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