The Norwich North by-election certainly looks like a bye-bye election for Labour. Obviously whichever party is elected to run the country next year is going to make massive spending cuts and it’s clear that there’s no alternative. The question is whether they’ll cut the things we can do without, and not the things we can’t. Pardon me for being cynical, but the chances are that the layers of insane bureaucracy will stay because that’s where the people implementing the cuts will be – so we’re in danger of losing the baby instead of the bathwater. Here is one personal plea to David Cameron: for God’s sake do not slash our arts.
There is no point having a balanced budget if the cost is a broken spirit. There is no point spending on education if people do not learn how to think. Care for our physical health by all means, but remember that the soul is part of the body, that mental and corporeal health are intimately related. We need the arts to remind us that we’re human beings, not just the animals that the consumer society apparently wants us to be. People are creative by nature – any child will show you that, given a chance – and if creativity is stifled, life itself is undervalued.
Slash a few quangos, do, because they’re siphoning off for their own use money that should be spent on the arts they support. But we need our theatres, galleries, orchestras, community outreach and, yes indeed, opera and ballet because a) they make life worth living, b) they flourish in hard times because people realise this, c) which makes them economically A Good Thing, d) and they’re small fry financially compared to, eg, Trident. If you get rid of our arts organisations you will be cutting out the country’s heart. Don’t.
By the way, what exactly happened to that missing £100m in the DCMS?