Thursday 14 October 2010

Blitzkrieg on the arts

With the Chancellor due to announce the Government's spending plans for the next four years in the Spending Review on Wednesday 20 October 2010, Sir Nicolas Serota has attacked the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s offer to cut the budget of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by 25-30%.

In a statement in the Guardian, Serota, Director of the Tate, calls the proposal “absurd”, stating that:

“With the ruthlessness of a blitzkrieg the coalition is threatening the stability of an entire system for cultural provision that has been built up by successive onservative and Labour governments: a mixed economy of public and private support that has made Britain a civilised place to live, where all have an opportunity to enjoy the arts or celebrate our heritage, and have been doing so in increasing numbers.”
Serota warns that the effects of such cuts will include:

“…smaller number of galleries and theatres, fewer chances for young people to broaden their experience of life, and a savage reduction in support for individual writers, artists and composers…closing galleries, reducing outreach activities and shutting for one or two days a week…fewer performances, less invention and much less work in the community”
And that:

“In some cases a vicious circle of declining audiences and reduced corporate and private benefaction will result in a slow, painful death because the core public subsidy is insufficient to sustain the halo of earned income and donations that we have all become adept at gaining. It will be the smaller, most innovative organisations across the country that suffer the most.”
In spite of these calamitous predictions, Serota does offer an alternative. He notes that a 10-15% cut over the next four years could be surmounted. Indeed, he says that this is a challenge of the kind that arts organisations regularly face and can overcome. Any more than this, however, and the stability of the entire art and culture system will be severely threatened.

It remains to be seen whether his words are heeded on 20 October.

Source: The Guardian, 4 October 2010

BLITZKRIEG installation by Viennese artists Busk/Anker/Emilone

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