Wednesday, 30 March 2011

"We should all be clear what is happening here"

The Guardian today published a statement from Tom Morris, Artistic Director at Bristol Old Vic, which was released in response to the Arts Council's announcement of funding for cultural venues and projects across the country. Despite the Bristol Old Vic getting a better deal than some, he expressed eloquently what many in the arts community feel about the Government's 'deficit reduction' programme. In unusually strong words compared to many of his colleagues, he also expressed concerns about the wider impact of spending reductions:

"We should all be clear what is happening here.

Arts Council England has been asked to make big cuts and to be progressive too. There is no way to make this scale of cut without making horrible and unpopular decisions.

Bristol Old Vic is lucky enough to be in receipt of a standstill grant; this is good news for us and good news for Bristol. In addition, we're excited about a new conversation with Arts Council England about how they can support us in developing touring work. However, many organisations and cities have not been so fortunate. It would be easy to blame Arts Council England, but this is not their fault. They have been set a riddle to which there is no fair solution.

 The arguments about the fantastically efficient economic and human impact of arts investment have been brilliantly rehearsed over recent weeks, but this is not the main issue today.

 People across the public sectors should take note of today's news, not because the arts should be favoured at the expense of health or education or benefits, but because similar cuts will soon be made across the board in all sectors. We can see the detail of our sector early, because Arts Council England has decided to give us as much time as possible to plan.

Surprisingly, this is not a party political issue. There are many people who support and belong to all three major parties who agree that the scale of cuts across the public sectors is too high. In the face of today's news, we should stand beside doctors, teachers, policemen, lawyers, local politicians and the many, many voters across the country to argue for a more enlightened approach to deficit reduction."

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