Image by Mark Wallinger.
I've always found immesurable to be one of the most interesting measures.
The cuts are coming and the arts are substituting feeling edgy for being edgy. My fear is that funding reductions are going to be applied not by squeezing everyone equally but by ceasing funding for a bunch of companies/projects altogether. The consequence of this is to increase the power of Fiona Hyslop and the Creative Scotland funding team(s). With less money to go round the funding decisions at the margins are the ones which will fall off the funding table. This worries me because I suspect that much of the stuff that appears marginal today is the most important for the future and the most deserving of funding.
But Arts funding is not a zero sum game. Those who protest the funding cuts on the basis that there is a direct correlation between funding cuts and a reduction in the amount of art are not necessarily right. If, for example, paying audiences were increased - the dependence on State funding would be reduced.
I’m not sure that Ian Duncan Smith is the sexiest of role models in an Arts debate, but what he is doing with the much bigger welfare system is truly radical – whatever your politics. It is this scale of imaginative leap that is now required in the arts. My proposal, here
for Creative Scotland to deliver an “Arts in Scotland” digital platform involves this same kind of category shift. Instead of Creative Scotland investing/subsidising particular proposals, Creative Scotland should put effort and funding into a digital network which would enable and empower audiences.
The argument implicit in the “I value the arts”, and all the other anti-cuts campaigns, is that the only value is monetary. In an artistic context that’s rather a sad argument. The macro-economic position that has led to this sorry pass is not one for which the old Scottish Arts Council can be held responsible – (though the idea of blaming them is quite entertaining). If there is going to be less money – and there is – then having an anti-cuts Twibbon is just indulgent tokenism.
Much better to lobby Fiona Hyslop and Creative Scotland and get them to grasp the opportunity
which the urgency of the funding situation demands – it’s the internet stupid!
By energising audiences, increasing information and functionality, resulting in a greater ‘consumption’ of the arts there’s a win/win to be had: More art at a reduced cost to the state.
This blog was inspired by Edd McCracken's piece
in the Sunday Herald