Time for a bank for the arts

Karl Marx said “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Arnold J. Toynbee in “Civilisation on Trial” asked the question does history repeat itself? and his conclusion  “seems to be that human history does turn out ,on occasion, to have repeated itself up to date in a significant sense even in spheres of human activity in which the human will is at its nearest to being master of the situation and is at least under the domination of cycles in physical nature”. All very deep stuff. I always took the view that mowing my mothers lawns was history repeating itself. In 1989 I wrote an article for the The Stage – www.thestage.co.uk that focused on the need for an Arts Bank – an idea already aired by Keith Diggle in the Stage in 1979,  history repeating itself – the simple premise was that an Arts Bank would act as an investment engine for the arts. Here we are again with  cuts in public expenditure,  the Arts Council England’s   budget cut by almost 30% in the government’s Spending Review.National museums with a cut of 15%.In addition, funding  ended for Creative Partnerships (a school arts programme); funding  cut for the British Film Institute by 15% and local authorities are having arts budgets slashed to the bone. Yet musicians still need to record. composer still need to compose, painters and crafts people and sculpture artists will continue to  produce art. An Arts Bank would help musicians record, assist in the commissioning of new work, lend money to the members of the public to purchase paintings and works of art. Repaid monies would be recirculated many times over whereas in the present system the money gets used once.The capital to float the bank could come from lottery funds coming back  on stream after the Olympic Games; monies from 20% VAT on tickets to cultural events could be used. However is the will there from Government and quangos to effect a sea change in arts funding? Toynbee at the end of his essay on “Does history repeat itself? said “Our future largely depends upon our selves. We are not just at the mercy of an inexorable fate” ,but perhaps  we are at the mercy of people who lack vision and commonsense. My grateful thanks to The Stage for permission too print this article.







Attached documents (click to download)

Share this post: