What happens when you put an MP in charge of music

Michael Dugher MP fled screaming last year from the hard-left, anti-capitalist Labour Party to become head of UK Music, an industry lobbying group.

The first thing he discovered is that opera gets eight times as much state subsidy as pop music.

He’s shocked by that. Shocked.

Maybe he should have stayed in the naive world of politics where no-one realises that pop is a commercial form of music, a field that is supposed to exist without subsidy.

Read here.

 

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  • ‘Hard-left’? Seriously?!? Get real, Norman: Corbyn’s Labour isn’t hard left. It’s just not boringly centrist.

    As for opera funding: a time will come when the wealthy attendees of the ROH will have to dip into their deep pockets and fund it themselves, or arts funding in general will have to be raised across the board to make opera funding less obviously high.

    • Tickets at the Opera House are not subsidised by the Government, so the patrons already fund their enjoyment themselves. The Arts Council funding is used to pay for outreach work and providing children with access to the opera and ballet, or perhaps you would prefer disadvantaged children not to be given access to art and culture?

      • Define “disadvantage”………….or do you mean the majority of working class kids who would rather listen to the multitude of various musical genres, all of which get by without subsidy? By all means expose all kids to classical music but don’t ask the general public to subsidise it!

          • Why “must” the general public subsidise it”, all other forms and genres of music are expected to stand on their own feet, why is classical music / opera an exception? Or is it that the chattering classes have deemed it “good for us” plebs and therefore we must pay for something that in excess of 90 per cent of the British public never go to?

          • Ellingtonia, nowhere at any time in the history of human civilization has real art and culture been able to finance itself, ‘stand on their own feet’.
            Anyone saying otherwise just knows not enough or is ignorant about the cultural history of mankind in general and the history of art in particular.

          • ARTS chiefs have been branded “too posh for pop” after gifting most music funding to opera. It will receive £229million of a £368million pot of taxpayers’ cash — 62 per cent………………so can someone explain to me why a musical genre that well over 90 per cent of the population never go to, gets 62% of all the funding? And please no bullshit about “nowhere at any time in the history of human civilization has real art and culture been able to finance itself” If it can’t finance itself then it goes the way of all other industries, so perhaps try putting your argument to the miners, steel workers, ship builders, engineers………..need I go on!

      • Rubbish.

        The Arts Council has given the ROH for the period 2018 – 2022, £24,028,840 each year, a total of £96,115,360 over the four years. This is the largest grant the Arts Council makes to any organisation in its portfolio.

        And you think that this is for ‘outreach work and providing children with access to the opera and ballet’?

        In 2014 – the latest information I could find on the ROH website – Alec Beard, ROH CE said that ‘Arts Council funding currently accounts for 22% of the Royal Opera House’s annual income. Without this sound foundation, we would be unable to maintain permanent companies of the sheer quality and ambition of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House…’

        He also said that the Arts Council will also continue to fund the ROHs outreach work under the Bridge initiative, a nationwide Arts Council programme that connects schools, young people and communities with artists, arts organizations, museums and libraries.

        So, more money on top of the largest grant of public money to any arts organisation

        • Its a large grant, but in the greater scheme of things the ROH grant makes up 3% of spending, creates a large number of jobs (including several non arts related jobs in building renovations & technical roles). It is also one of very few art forms that attract international audiences, thus bringing foreign money into the UK

  • Norman, leaving aside your absurd ‘hard left/anti-capitalist’ remarks (honestly, do you think mortgaged-up father-of-two tax solicitors like me, or the Scandinavian politicans who note with approval Corbyn’s policy platform, are ‘hard left’? It’s more that we’d quite like a government prepared to prioritise health and education rather than giving yet more money to the bankers who crashed the economy – THAT is anti-capitalist), Dugher is one of the very worst.

    He was ignorant when in Parliament (and incidentally critical of Corbyn to a degree that left the term ‘demented’ several miles behind), and has clearly seen no reason to look at the detail before mouthing off in his new role (which he got *how*, one might reasonably ask).

    I note that, like many Blair-era Labour MPs, he has no qualms about calling opera ‘elitist’ and ‘for the rich’; yet I have no doubt that doesn’t consider a Coldplay gig to which tickets cost £150 elitist in the least. Similarly, I don’t recall him complaining that tickets for Manchester United cost £80+.

    I also have no doubt that, if opera houses and orchestras relinquished their subsidy and charged the full ticket price (so £150+ for, say, the LSO), he would be first in line to accuse them of being excessively expensive.

    He isn’t naïve here; he’s just disingenuous, as usual. Classical music doesn’t have access to every radio (and several TV) station out there, nor does it have people relentlessly pushing it all the time.

    My experience in dealing with outreach projects in schools (with an amateur orchestra) is that, given the chance before prejudice of the kind Dugher so ably and unthinkingly reinforces here sets in, children are actually pretty receptive to classical music. It’s just that, by the time many of them get to hear it (let alone experience a big orchestra playing, say, Beethoven’s 5th), they have already been told that this type of music is for posh/rich people and they dismiss it accordingly. It may never be as popular as pop music; but given a fair wind and with this ridiculous elitist claptrap stripped away, you’d get many more engaged and interested (young) listeners than is currently the case.

    • Absolutely agree. But then read all the recent pro-elitist-claptrap comments here about the evil populism of El Sistema.
      There are many in the posh circles, who actually do not want to break the manna of classical music with the commoners, but keep the intermission champagne receptions to the ‘right’ people.

    • “I note that, like many Blair-era Labour MPs, he has no qualms about calling opera ‘elitist’ and ‘for the rich’; yet I have no doubt that doesn’t consider a Coldplay gig to which tickets cost £150 elitist in the least. Similarly, I don’t recall him complaining that tickets for Manchester United cost £80+.”……………you really don’t get it do you, none of the above go for Government handouts, they charge a market rate and stand or fall by what they sell, if the public don’t come then they suffer the economic consequences. So tell me why are classical / opera musicians a “protected species?”

      • Sport does get government money. UK Sport (elite sport) received £53.54 million of Grant-in-Aid and lottery income of £74.57 million in 2015/16. In 2016/17 Sport England (community sport) received £308.4 million, £105.6 million Exchequer Grant in Aid funding
        and £202.8 million National Lottery Funding. I assume by the same logic this money should be withdrawn and those sports that can’t survive in the commercial marketplace (athletics, cycling, rowing, hockey etc.) should be allowed to suffer the economic consequences?

        • Actually sport gets much much more if you count in ALL of the different ways in which they gather government cash.
          To top it off a considerable number of sports persons THEN engage in tax avoidance thus ensuring they pay as little back to the exchequer. Not something which you hear much about from opera singers.

          • And it is requirement of the Olympics, Champions League, Diamond League etc. that host nations waive withholding tax.

  • It doesn’t seem like classical music (whatever that actually means) is (a) on his radar and/or (b) something he wants to be seen to be associated with.

    Look at his Twitter photo collage:
    pic of me with Brian May – tick;
    pic of me playing electric guitar – tick;
    pic of me playing guitar at The Cavern – tick;
    pic of me at Cardiff indie venue – tick;
    pic of me in choir/orchestra/opera context – erm….

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