The Arts – the Cost of Cutting Back

Cutbacks. They seem to be the only subject in the media these days. Whilst I appreciate that the arts will suffer in the same way as other sectors, I confess some of the comments I’ve read recently made my blood boil: 

“I appreciate a good painting as much as anyone else but there are far more important things to spend the money on right now. This is the proverbial cake in a bread and butter situation.”

“Let the toffs pay for their own entertainments.”

“Because art is only a perception with no intrinsic value of itself, it should never have attracted tax payer’s money in the first place. I absolutely do not want my taxes to support art, even when times are good.”

So you’re really happy to accept an arts-free future for most people? Really? If the arts have to be solely self financing then galleries, theatre, music, dance will only be available to the very wealthiest in society. Think about that. Then think about it again.

If you believe that only the rich need art then please explain why reproductions of art sell so widely throughout society. Why are exhibitions of famous paintings sold out months in advance? Is it only the rich who want to see the Mona Lisa/ Monet’s Waterlillies/Van Gogh’s Sunflowers?

Withdraw funding and all public galleries will be gone for good, and with them the employment they provided. Artists who aren’t supported through the bad times simply won’t be there in the good times either.

“Creative employment provides around two million jobs, in the creative sector itself and in creative roles in other sectors. Employment in the sector has grown at double the rate of the economy as a whole. Exports of services by the creative industries totalled £17.3 billion in 2008” Dept of Culture, Media & Sport

Where is the economic sense in cutting jobs and then having to support unemployed people through the benefits system?

Arts funding does not mean paying artists to produce work, but it may mean the difference between a project being viable or not. I will take part in Stroud’s Open Studios programme again this year. None of the artists receive money to take part – quite the reverse – but some funding  is available to the organisers to go towards publicity and admin, therefore allowing Open Studios to take place.

Through Open Studios last year I sold my wildlife art, met a gallery owner with whom I’m working this year, was booked for some teaching and gained a magazine interview. Other artists will have had similar experiences. I met visitors not just from Gloucestershire but from as far afield as Devon and Cambridgeshire, so Open Studios brought economic value to the county through tourism too. Without funding some of the associated costs none of that would have happened.

Only 0.07% of the public purse funds the arts and for every pound invested at least £2 comes back into UK coffers. Cutting that back further makes very little sense to me.

In my opinion providing some funding to the arts brings many economic benefits. Fundamentally though, experiencing great art is uplifting, enlightening, inspiring and valuable, and aids our emotional well-being. That is why it should be available to all, not just the richest.

I value the Arts. Do you?

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About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
This entry was posted in Art, Business of Art and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Arts – the Cost of Cutting Back

  1. Expression says:

    Art pre-dates taxes, its an integral factor of humanity, and its for everyone regardless of money.I create art because its me, if no one buys it I would still be an artist, its my career choice!How about the government spending £650,000,000 on Pakistani Schools ( just one of many foreign spending sprees).Redirect money back into this country and keep our gallery’s open.

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