The art critic Brian Sewell adds his considerable voice to the growing demand for top-down reform of Britain’s arts funding system. Sewell, with unrivalled experience of the art scene over the past half-century, calls for the abolition of Arts Council England, a position I do not share.
Failing that, his fallback position seems to be that the ACE should give up its dubious role in the visual arts, as well as most of its major clients. He would also like to see some charges reinstated for museum and gallery admissions.
His clincher paragraph is one to savour:
Fund the bottom, not the top. De-accession the superfluous, irrelevant and weak. Impose, for a quinquennium, either entry charges or a culture tax on foreign visitors. And suggest to the millionaire artists whose reputations have been established at public expense by the Arts and British Councils, for the equal benefit of their even richer dealers, that this is payback time, time for the Gormleys and Kapoors to offer a little sponsorship of their own, time for the White Cubes and Victoria Miros to stump up the odd half-million when their pets are exhibited in public galleries. Their empty protests against the cuts seem pretty hollow.
Read the whole essay here.
In an unrelated development, the news
that ACE will take over responsibility for regional museums and libraries is a formidable instance of civil servants sweeping unwanted mess underneath the nearest sofa. The ACE has no experience in managing libraries and an appalling track record in literature – which it ought not to be funding in the first place.
Giving ACE control of library improvement budgets is like putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop – a license for mayhem and plunder. Bad decision. Really bad.