In yesterday's autumn statement, the chancellor, George Osborne, announced (among other things) that orchestras in the UK may get tax breaks. A system was brought in for theatre and dance productions back in the summer and the idea is to extend this to their colleagues on the concert platform. This would mean 20 per cent tax relief on home performances and 25 per cent on touring.
But while the principle of it is being welcomed, what nobody seems absolutely sure of is how it is going to work; Classical Music Magazine points out that it is a nod, but not a promise; and also, nobody seems quite certain whether it will make any difference to the fortunes of these organisations once the next round of ACE funding cuts is meted upon them. Here is the ISM response ("the fine detail is still to be worked up").
We suspect that this may be a case of the chancellor giving with one hand and taking away with the other and cynics will suggest that such a pledge could therefore turn out, in the broad scheme of things, not to be worth the paper it's written on. Personally I can't help wondering if it would not be simpler for all concerned just to fund the arts properly in the first place... But let's be grateful for small mercies, no?
Here is the ACE document explaining theatre tax relief.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Monday, January 21, 2013
In today's Independent Rosie Millard asks why we never see politicians at arts events. Are the arts really that difficult? No - it's a matter of image. Read it here...
The reality is a little more complex. The fact is that some politicians do like the arts. But woe betide them if they're spotted there by a tabloid newspaper.
I got Sir Antonio Pappano going on this subject not long ago. It is one of the issues we discussed for an in-depth interview for Opera News in New York - the article is the cover feature for the February issue and subscribers should have their copy by now. UK readers need to know what he said, so here is a small extract.
At one performance in Pappano’s Ring Cycle, several cabinet ministers were spotted in the audience, notably the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a committed Wagnerphile. The tabloid newspapers pounced. “The paparazzi got to them and suddenly they’re not coming near the opera house because they were accused of taking time off from running the country!” Pappano fumes. “This is absolutely ridiculous.
“Recently I went to my orchestra in Italy to open the season. On the first night the President of the Republic was there; he came to shake my hand while I was on stage, and applauded the orchestra and the chorus. On the second night Mario Monti, the Prime Minister, did the same thing and came to the dinner afterwards – so I was able to talk to the Prime Minister. In Italy politicians are celebrated for coming to a cultural event. But in Britain, if you do so you’re considered an elitist, highbrow snob. These two things occurred within a week of each other. I think we should celebrate culture and I was really annoyed about what happened in London.”
Read the whole thing here.There’s a danger, he adds, that the popular press’s anti-intellectual agenda could deter the government from supporting the arts: “In the end it’s going to threaten the existence of institutions that are supposed to be there for the duration.”
It does strike me that the arts, and opera in particular, are perhaps missing out on a vital chance to engage in a dialogue with this slash-happy administration. There is an enthusiasm there; it must surely be possible to tap in to this to encourage a bit of positive thinking all round?