If you think the hostile/apathetic attitudes of Americans toward government arts subsidies are muddleheaded (overwhelming empirical evidence from foundations to government arts agency shows that the arts and arts program not only provide intrinsic benefits, but help children read, prevent crime and provide a boon to local business), check out the British response. A July 15 article by Maev Kennedy in The Guardian discusses an across-the-board British Arts Council proposed cut of 25%, and of institutional response to that proposal. The Royal Shakespeare Company, one of England's most internationally prominent faces of British  culture, says it simply can't continue to function in any viable way with such a draconian cut.

Eight out of 10 tourists to London say they come for the arts. Every £1 invested in the arts leads to a £2 return, including revenues from box office and local businesses. If this were a proposal for a stock investment, the trading of that arts stock would be through the roof. But when it's government investment, out come the cries of “elitism,” and “make the arts pay their own way.” (Sort of like we do with the banking and insurance industries.)

(The Arts Council cut was finally trimmed from 25% to 10%.)

For a plethora of attitudes in the comments to the article, including a hostility to the arts that's quite stunning, coming from readers of The Guardian, press the More tab directly below.

Comments to Maev' Kennedy's July 15 article in The Guardian:


bloatboy bloatboy

15 Jul 2010, 2:23PM

There cannot be anything more important than paying an artist a

substantial amount of money to shit into a bright yellow bucket with a

smiley face on it and call it: happy faeces.

Then everyone can debate whether this truly describes the human

condition while condescending anyone who claims that the art is simply

a bucket full of crap. Of course only creative and intelligent people

will appreciate the art in question, thus distancing themselves from

the ignorant masses.


Kerrygold Kerrygold

15 Jul 2010, 2:35PM

Start with Opera, then all the big Orchestras. Make them pay their way.


barneyfarmer barneyfarmer

15 Jul 2010, 2:57PM

It might be shit to you bloatboy, but that's their bread and butter.


Snarlygog Snarlygog

15 Jul 2010, 3:03PM

Empower every one to be their own Artist – why have a

Specialist/Elite class of so-called practitioners arguing in their

Pretend worlds ?


LiveLit LiveLit

15 Jul 2010, 3:21PM

However gut-wrenching your hatred of the arts, how do you argue

against support of 'an industry … which generates at least £2 for

every £1 invested'?


Cheeky68 Cheeky68

15 Jul 2010, 3:42PM

Poor old Sir Nicholas, its a hard knock life on £160k a year.


Billyo Billyo

15 Jul 2010, 5:05PM

ACE have already done such a good job at mismanaging my particular

corner of the arts (small scale touring performance) that the cuts are

likely to have minor impact to be perfectly honest. There is nothing

left to cut and we've become reliant on European money. I guess I

should feel concerned that the big players are going to have their

budgets finally trimmed… and I suppose I do in an abstract sort of




15 Jul 2010, 5:09PM

yes, I'm going to be bitter and full of envy for Nicholas Serota

because he earns more than me. For goodness sake, look how hard this

man has worked and how successful Tate has become under his wing. If

anything he should be paid one hell of a lot more than £160k a year,

especially when you consider that the going rate for a head teacher in

Lewisham is now £250k per annum…


hoddle1 hoddle1

15 Jul 2010, 5:43PM

Michael Gove claimed £20 for Tate Modern coffee mugs on expenses.

So perhaps the arts are safe under the Tories.


PilotTheatre PilotTheatre

15 Jul 2010, 6:49PM

The level of debate on the comments here is very disappointing. The

decimation of the cultural sector and the knock on effect will reach

far and wide. So people should stand up and make the case, and use

intelligent and rational arguments.
The sectors need to galvanise

and look at the effects that cuts will have across education / local

authorities / culture / health / and take a longer term view about the

implications, rather than petty point scoring about individuals. This

is a time when we have an opportunity to connect and make a concerted

effort to defend the landscape that we have all benefited from over the

last decade – free museum and gallery entry, performing arts that are

the envy of the world and a sector that as Liveit stated that for every

pound invested returns two more in revenue. As a business model this is

very good indeed.

so join us where the debate is also in more depth on here


Sharp5th Sharp5th

15 Jul 2010, 7:17PM

For havens sake, haven't we grown up enough to move beyond the 'oh

I saw a really rubbish piece of modern art once so I don't think they

should have any funding…' Pathetic. It's a so much bigger picture

than that. The creative industries, from TV and video gaming to theatre

and film, are completely interdependent – and they have been one of the

only significant growth areas in the economy over recent years. That is

why we are a world leader now, and why the sector makes such a positive

economic impact; as highlighted above £2 generated for every £1

invested. You can't strip out the grass roots of the sector, which is

what will happen as a result of these cuts, and not expect the whole

lot to come crashing down. We are currently looking at nothing less

than the decimation of our creative industries for generations to come:

a perfect storm of simultaneous deep cuts to the DCMS and local

authorities – and this government is simply not looking at the bigger

picture or the potential economic and social knock on impact. This is

partly through naivety but also ignorance. Cuts are necessary – the

sector isn't burying its head in the sand – but we have to look

carefully at the impacts and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

We will need the sector to be healthy to feed the recovery. If 25% cuts

are applied the sector will be crippled. That will limit us as a

nation, hobble us as a society, reduce innovation and creativity at a

time when it's most needed and impact on economic development and

education across the country. Towns and cities dependant on the sector

to drive footfall and support local economies will be left without it,

and schools will be unable to access creative learning opportunities

recently identified as vital to the successful development of young

people. What a wonderful dry world we have to look forward to under

this government – no libraries, no museums, no leisure centres or local

services, no arts venues or theatres in local communities, certainly

fewer schools trips to the theatre stimulate the mind. But hey, the

kids will always have the reintrodution of porta cabins for lessons to

look forward to. And after all, who needs the arts when when we can sit

in and watch uncle Rupert's Sky?


Calisto Calisto

15 Jul 2010, 7:19PM

We would be mounting less productions, employing less actors and designers

'Fewer', perhaps?



Reddevilalpha Reddevilalpha

15 Jul 2010, 7:28PM

No-one subsidises the local cinemas because people actually want to

see what they have to offer and are willing to pay for it and they

manage their costs well.

Why should poor people subsidise the pleasures of the rich any more

than they do via huge mark-ups on everything we buy? And who in their

right mind wants to sit and watch people writhing about on the floor

unless those people happen to be stark naked?

I don't see lap dancing clubs being subsidised either and yet far

more people probably go to them than go to theatres to watch overpaid

oafs showing “oaf.”

I remember reading in the 1990's that the average Jazz venue was

subsidised by 5p per seat and the same study showed that opera seats

were being subsidised by over £20 per seat, ….. that closed the case

for the prosecution for me.

We need 100% cuts not 25% cuts and if the tax evading rich don't

like it why don't they do as they do in the USA and pay for these

things themselves out of their ill gotten gains? They say that the arts

bring in twice as much money as is spent on them, …….. so let them

prove it by slashing budgets to zero and watching the investors rush in

,….. Not !


ellediver ellediver

15 Jul 2010, 7:47PM

I work in a regional arts centre, and already it runs a on a

shoestring. We work here because we love it, and are dedicated to the

cultural vibrancy of the city. It would be very dangerous to be too

London-centric on this issue and base decisions purely on financial

return. Our city and region, would be much poorer if this one venue had

to close.


petehindle petehindle

15 Jul 2010, 7:52PM

Nobody mention Piero Manzoni to @bloatboy, ok?

I agree with the more thoughtful (and less childishly idiotic)

commentors here. The arts do serve a vital purpose in society, and the

sort of cuts that are proposed won't just affect that industry –

they'll affect a wide segment of society. Without the aspirational and

cultural richness the arts give us, we might as well be living in some

communist era shack.


ellediver ellediver

15 Jul 2010, 8:04PM

in response to Reddevilalpha:

a film cost £100 to hire, a projectionist costs £40 a shift, so

does an usher, and someone to sell the tickets maybe £20. That's £200

to show a film.

a piece of theatre requires a team of performers investing a week

of rehearsals, a sound engineer, a lighting technician and the

overheads of the venue (front of house manager, ushers, box office),

set, costumes, posters and programmes, and that's if they are all local

and have a place to stay. How much would the ticket price have to e for

all that without funding? bear in mind also that all those people

getting paid, are also paying tax INTO the system.

And the arts are subsidised so POOR people can access them. Do you show opera in your cinema, like our cinema does?

you need to get out more.


BobandRoberta BobandRoberta

15 Jul 2010, 10:08PM

The Arts cost .7% of government spending. You could cut that in half or double it

and it would make no actual difference to the public purse. Cutting the Arts is unnecessary macho politics.

I have just sent a drawing of a roast golden goose that might be tasty

but no longer lays eggs to Jeremy Hunt. If you can draw I urge you to

do the same


LGaryThomas LGaryThomas

15 Jul 2010, 10:27PM

Many cinemas are subsidised directly, and filmgoing, including

going to commercial cinemas, is subsidised indirectly – with films and

distribution – things you might see in Cineworld or Odeon – being

supported by UK Film Council.

I'm not a fan of luvvies, but the knee jerk reaction to public

funding of culture – that art should operate on a fully commercial

model – is simply ignorant. The subsidised arts contribute to our

economy – and as a business that does that, they merit support just as,

oh..all those other businesses that get any public funds..farming,

manufacturing, transport, etc, etc, etc.



15 Jul 2010, 2:35PM

Start with Opera, then all the big Orchestras. Make them pay their way.

Opera could very easily pay its way, by hiking up ticket prices and

ensuring that only the very wealthy could afford to go. Given its

well-healed audience, it will also have much less of an issue in

attracting private sponsorship, including sectioning large areas of the

best seats off as Corporate giveaways. So, Opera would probably suffer

little from Arts cuts.

The less well-healed members of the Opera audience, who could not

afford to pay more than they do now, would do, however. An attack on

Opera funding is essentially an attack on the less-well off in

society's ability to ever attend one.



16 Jul 2010, 12:38AM

Most people who work in the arts earn little and work extensive

hours with no extra pay for overtime, weekends, bank holidays etc. They

accept that this is fine because their work is vital to them. Two of my

work colleagues have good qualifications in more lucrative and

in-demand professions but they choose to work long hours in small

performance venues because performance is their life. In these jobs

they nurture artists and programme work, promoting talent to audiences

across the board. Reactions are phenomenal which is why they have been

getting some funding over the years but no one earns a great deal, they

benefit though enormously.

To imagine that the arts are for rich people is insane. I don't

know anyone who is rich who works in the arts but I know plenty of

people whose lives would be a void without them, me being one of them.

I do appreciate that cuts have to be made but this argument about the

arts being a waste of everyone's time and money sickens me to the core.



16 Jul 2010, 12:40AM

Just to clarify in my last post, I meant SOME cuts! Not 25%.


LaquandaJones LaquandaJones

16 Jul 2010, 2:16AM

Guess you should have told labour not to spend all the cash then huh? Its ok..we still have HBO


khiarosqero khiarosqero

16 Jul 2010, 2:30AM

cut it all. just to see what happens.


LordNed LordNed

16 Jul 2010, 3:35AM

It depresses me to read some of these posts.

“cut it all. just to see what happens”

I have just watched a tv show called “101 ways to leave a game show” on iPlayer.

This is what we'd be left with if we cut it all.

No confident writers, no honed directors, no experienced actors, no designers who have been able to find their style.

Just a formula.

Forget opera; ever watched Doctor Who or Billy Elliot or any of

those Saturday night talent shows. None of them would happen without

subsidy and Joe Public seeing other people's work. Virtually everyone

who works in telly, film and commercial theatre started in the

subsidised sector.

The arts take a TINY proportion of the national budget and return a

HUGE benefit to the nation (or those that can be bothered to look,

which is a great number – sorry Khiarosqero if you're not one of those,

perhaps you can just play on your Wii by yourself).


khiarosqero khiarosqero

16 Jul 2010, 6:43AM



We live in a Capitalist society. Everyone in this society has to

abide by those rules set down through our economic model. Why is it

that your industry is so special it doesn't have to? What makes your

lot so special? Are you perhaps part of the vulnerable of society? or

is it because you find that you are too good to actually earn a living

like the rest of us? Why should you be subsidised and not the cleaners?

Because they have a far greater impact on the quality of life than any

theatre ever has.

LA Weekly