40% cuts to UK Culture? Hang on a minute…

40% cuts to UK Culture? Hang on a minute…


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2015

The usual suspects are whipping up a panic call over expected cuts to the budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Some suggest the Department itself may be abolished (which would not be a bad thing).

The stirrers have failed, however, to read what the Chancellor George Osborne announced yesterday in Parliament.

He said the Treasury would ‘prioritise spending that achieves the best economic returns, as well as that which promotes innovation, growth, productivity and competition.’

That’s the arts, isn’t it? Let stop whinging, get out there and innovate.


extend the arts


  • V.Lind says:

    And also grow, produce and compete.

    If these people had a clue as to how much the reputation of Britain in the world depends upon the impression made by its artists past and present, they might not be so quick with the machetes. The BBC, which he and his posse want to slash/alter/eliminate, is the envy of broadcasters around the world. The British theatre sends actors out who win award after award, in American competitions like the Tonys, and in the worlds of film and television when they ply their craft there. Musicians from Nicola Benedetti to Bryn Terfel, choreographers like Wheeldon and Akram Khan, give international festivals and performances that extra edge because of their reputations for being the best of British. David Hockney is probably the only living household name artist in the world — certainly one of few, if there are others.

    Politically, Britain is virtually irrelevant. Economically, it overrates its own importance. Militarily, while distinguished, it is insignificant compared to the ignorant armies that clash by night. Britain retains its reputation as a centre of excellence only when the likes of Maggie Smith opens her mouth.

    • Jon H says:

      Well said. The face of England to the outside world are the Maggie Smiths. A balanced check book is a great thing, but if there’s no culture, and people have nothing to enjoy or be proud of, what’s the point?
      Now maybe this is where individuals step up to pay for whatever cultural things they enjoy, but if the government is paying 40% less, that’s 40% that shouldn’t be taken from the people…

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Kinder, schafft Neues!” But what will this ‘new’ be, in the arts of today? More of the same ‘new’ concept art and concept music, both stemming from more than half a century ago? Will ‘new’ automatically mean: ‘good’, or ‘better’? These are mere slogans.

  • Alvaro says:

    Having been there in both for profit and non profit roles, I can say without a hair of doubt that the arts is one of the LEAST innovative industries in the world. Britain is no exception.

    One just has to see the same old recipes of regurgitating “audience outreach” efforts. As soon as one thing has ANY limelight, the rest of the industry as a whole copies. Monkey sees monkey does is cherished in orchestras, agencies, and concert halls the world around.

    Thats why the berliner is playing film music, and everybody and their grandmother is opening “el sistema” copycats.

    Innovation? No such thing in the arts. DESPERATION though…..

    • Halldor says:

      Bizarre reasoning. The Berlin Phil is playing film music because it’s important music, of lasting quality. It’s part of the repertoire. Or are orchestras copying each other when more than one of them plays a Mahler cycle, or Beethoven 9?

  • El Grillo says:

    The arts are innovation, growth, productivity and competition?

    I thought the arts was about beauty, and the irreplaceable charm life has, that we don’t forget thinking we need to be competitive, or the rest.

    “Marketing” on the other hand….