Fiona Maddocks rages at Arts Council economic folly

Fiona Maddocks rages at Arts Council economic folly


norman lebrecht

November 12, 2022

From tonight’s column by the Observer music critic:

No apologies for returning to Arts Council England (ACE)’s funding cuts. The headlines are last week’s but the impact of a single announcement will ricochet through lives and livelihoods for years, starting now. Trimming costs in hard times makes sense. Giving new contenders, all over the country, a slice of the pie is fair. Cutting down, in one wanton act, an entire forest of hard-won achievement is beyond reason or redemption. To penalise a capital city, one of Europe’s most populous and culturally magnetic, is economic folly, quite aside from any other criticisms that might be levelled.

Many issues will arise in the aftershock….

Opera’s losses, the sums more eye-watering, the carping voices louder, have attracted more attention, though not entirely. We should protest loudly against the cut, scarcely addressed, to Welsh National Opera, which is partly funded by ACE, as well as the Arts Council of Wales: a third of its ACE grant has been severed. This for a company that tours beyond Wales to Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Southampton and Oxford, and which this season especially has created some of the finest quality productions around. The cuts to Glyndebourne’s touring arm (pictured) – the very part of the organisation that embraces a wider public around the country, as well as nurturing talent – also appear irrational….

Read on here.



  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Excellent piece by the knowledgeable Fiona as opposed to the “blog” by the head of music at ACE. If someone wishes to attend an opera being performed by Glyndebourne Touring Opera or Welsh National Opera, they are hardly going to be satisfied by a totally different art form. In a perfect world there wouldn’t be an either-or situation. Sadly, we don’t live in a remotely perfect world.

  • Markus says:

    Outside perspective: Post Brexit‘s obvious financial consequences, post a global pandemic which has fundamentally changed how we can consume the arts and battered our bank accounts, and in the middle of the Putin/energy crisis which is immediate and real for many people who need heat: Arts funding is being slashed all over the EU, too. And we all get it here. It‘s hard but – harder is this nostalgic nonsense of ENO having any real value save about 300 jobs which can and will find work elsewhere. The future is shaky and shifting for all major operatic institutions. At a certain point, I would have expected English intellect to have more perspective. A thinning out of government support for the arts has been on the rise since the commercial American model exploded in the 80s. The people of London will be fine with one giant well funded opera house – and some great smaller houses that reach the rest of the UK. Such navel gazing and is disappointing from such a respected critic.

  • spock says:

    Nothing like the entitled when they get indignant, is there?