The Playgoer: Those UK Budget Cuts

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Those UK Budget Cuts

In case you didn't hear, Labour is out and the Tories are back in at 10 Downing Street.  And the combination of Conservatives in power and fiscal crisis--the new PM David Cameron has already called for draconian cuts across the board to save the national treasury--could lead to a convenient open season on Britain's traditionally generous arts (esp. theatre) funding.

The Guardian's Lyn Gardner says it may not be as bad as feared since the UK Arts Council can apparently "draw on almost half of its £18m reserves."  (Wait, an arts surplus???)  Nevertheless she urges vigilance:

I think we have to accept that while culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, a man who clearly knows the value of money (he once claimed 1p against his expenses for a 12-second phone call), and the Tories talked the arts talk before the election, and did their best to argue that the Tories were not the nasty-to-the-arts party, they don't really understand that they are not supporting the arts but investing in them. They will understand, however, when the VAT receipts, which from London theatres alone are greater than all Arts Council subsidy to theatre, start to dry up. This is because the talent has not been supported and nurtured to make the shows. Or they will when our export of theatre talent to the rest of the world is lessened. Or when Nicholas Hytner has to close the Cottesloe [National Theatre's third space] like one of his predecessors, Peter Hall, and there are boarded-up theatre buildings across the country.
Stay tuned...

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