Can we just bypass the “is it art?” debate? It’s a giant, misshapen rollercoaster- type thingy, with a sort of sub-Eiffel Towery feel. It may or may not symbolise the twisted dreams of our country’s financial capital or Man’s doomed striving for the sky on his meandering path towards the grave. Or something. But let’s just call it art and be done.
The Anish Kapoor-designed, ArcelorMittal Orbital will soar above the London Olympic Park, dividing opinions, enraging taxi drivers and garnering nicknames. Personally, I love 84 per cent of it — the bit that was paid for by ArcelorMittal, the company owned by the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, which is spending up to £16 million on it. I am substantially less enamoured of the £3.1 million bit that we are paying for. Could it just be a few feet shorter with the company picking up all the bill?
We are deep in an era of big public works of art and expensive subsidies. The four arts councils for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receive £521 million of taxpayers’ cash and £168 million from the lottery.
Total spending on culture in the UK amounts to 1 per cent of the NHS budget. But taxpayer-funded art, unlike brain surgery, is a luxury. Art is a glorious and welcome by-product of a healthy, capital-creating economy. Our economy is as crooked and twisted as Kapoor’s tower, in no shape to fund anything except recovery.
Those in favour of taxpayer-funded art base their argument on two pillars — the notion that a life without art is a dull, spiritually undernourished one, and the more topical argument that the creative economy is a thriving one that will help to pull the country out of its fiscal doldrums.
The problem with arts subsidies, however, is that it’s difficult to escape the notion that the poor are subsidising the leisure pursuits of the rich. At the Royal Opera House this week for Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, it seemed utterly absurd that the well-heeled audience was subsidised in any way by the taxpayer. Spiritually nourished this crowd may have been; poor it was not.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
This is a very cleverly written piece from over the pond on public funding of the arts. A great read.
This is an excerpt:
Read the rest here: The fat lady must learn to be a little thinner | Antonia Senior - Times Online
Posted by AnnaZ at 5:59 AM