Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tomorrow is another day...

After yesterday, I've been hugely impressed by the attitudes expressed by those organisations who've lost their ACE funding yet have issued statements declaring their determination to carry on with their work. While certain bullish media commentators are desperate to portray them all as that magical invention of the school playground, "whingeing luvvies", I've not spotted a single "whinge" anywhere. There's disappointment, of course, and sometimes incomprehension about some of the decisions - but principally we note fortitude, resourcefulness and gratitude for the support thus far.

These are people who work extremely hard, often for little financial recompense, and commit to their various activities with dogged determination against a sea of ignorant, opposing twatdom. I am especially sorry to see that the brilliant charity Live Music Now is among those whose funding has been wiped out - you'll find their website in my Music Inspirations list, but here it is again. Others include beloved Riverside Studios, Dartington, Lake District Summer Music and the Rose Theatre in Kingston. As for the massive cut to the excellent Almeida Theatre, Norman Lebrecht has theories about this.

There's good news, too: among the big winners has been the Britten Sinfonia, with a massively increased grant that is very well deserved, and several famous early-music orchestras have won funding despite having existed perfectly strongly without it for decades, while the London Mozart Players is out of the picture altogether. (There is an early music enthusiast, or so, on the ACE board, as you'll note if you have a look at Norman's lavish commentary from yesterday.) More news here from the Independent.

It was entertaining to see Jeremy Paxman facing a team of theatrical manager, Tory minister and a highly intelligent scientist on Newsnight yesterday, and finding no dissent amongst them at all over the value to society of public funding for culture and research. The more he pushed the philistine mealymouth view, the more strongly and excellently they reasoned.

My husband still has a job: all the symphony orchestras have taken a roughly equal 11% cut. Many in other sectors of work across the country are less fortunate. As the libretto of Anna Nicole says: "There but for the grace of your deity of choice..." Never think that we don't know this.

As far as the UK's cultural life is concerned, there's much to celebrate. Many creative and resourceful people work in this industry; it's now going to be up to them to find alternative ways forward. The arts here take just a sliver of public funding - notable when you compare it to other departments and see the returns that investment in the arts can bring - and the "mixed model" of funds-gathering - a sort of hedging approach with a bit of public, a bit of private and a lot of commercial nous - is currently proving its worth. It's a bit like freelancing: you're not dependent on any one company for your income, but on many different ones, so it is unlikely that you'll lose the whole lot at once (as I have learned over a sometimes difficult but often rewarding patch of 18 years to date).

And so, as Scarlett O'Hara says, tomorrow is another day. Keep calm and carry on.

A far greater danger than ACE cuts is the tearing up of culture and education by the grass roots, in the shape of university tuition fees and local authority budget-slashing. That is a topic for another time.