Arts cuts: Denmark is in serious danger of losing the plot

The BBC tonight starts screening a Danish political drama, Borgen, after the phenomenal success of the crime series, The Killing.

Over the past year, four young Danish conductors have landed promising international posts and the former artistic director of the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Kasper Holten, was appointed head of the Royal Opera company in London. These are huge credits for a small nation. And they arise from a deep and disciplined cultural infrastructure, topped by the Royal Theatre.

Yet a petty-minded government is threatening to sacrifice all these gains by imposing drastic cuts on the Royal Theatre, slashing its chorus and performing cast and throwing away its competitive leadership in the region.

The prime minister,  Helle Thorning-Schmidt, is married to the son of a British Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock. I’d very much doubt that he’s impressed.

Meantime, here’s Kasper Holten denouncing the cuts on state TV.

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  • It’s ironic that the current Dutch government, responsible for dramatic arts cuts, found inspiration in the former Danish government (liberal and conservative parties supported by right-wing populists). In Holland, many who work in the arts and culture hope for a future left-wing government to turn things around. But apparently we shouldn’t be to sure about that…

  • Long term strategic planning in the tiny kingdom, where the opera and the ballet play a significant role in turning Copenhagen into a city where expats and international visitors are at ease:

    On January 15th 2005, opening night of the new Opera House:

    The complete elite of government and decision makers – anybody believing to be at or near power in Denmark – in their most distinguished evening dresses – delivered a standing ovation towards Mr. Maersk McKinney Moeller, the shipping magnate, whose family fund financed the Opera on his inauguration speech.

    January 15th, 2011:

    Government bureaucrats compute a massacre on the opera chorus and the royal ballet. Budgets are reduced below a ten year prior level – before the Opera and the new Skuespilhus were built.

    Some new government ministers now have two spin doctors (spokespersons) in stead on one. It takes three ballet dancers or opera chorus singers to finance one spin doctor. So if they need 10 more government spin doctors to fight each other and the opposition they must of course sack 30 artists of the Royal Theatre.

    2011 logics of Mrs. Thorning Schmidt and Mrs. Merkel the actual impersonifications of Mrs. Thatcher.

    But it is said we bombed very successfully in Libya.

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