David Thompson
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June 18, 2015

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Joan

Try to imagine an electrician or mechanic saying they deserve public subsidy *because* not enough people think they're good enough to employ.

David

It’s a caste thing, Joan. You wouldn’t understand.

David

One Guardian reader thinks Ms Marr’s article is compelling and “well written,” and adds, “It is very important for human sanity to have the arts and to fund the creation of it. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming mere robots.” He or she seems to imagine that unless we keep throwing other people’s cash at things like this, and people like Ms Marr, we’ll all lose our minds and only tumbleweed will roll across a denuded cultural landscape.

I wonder, how does one get to this level of vanity and presumed entitlement?

Anna

It’s a caste thing, Joan. You wouldn’t understand.

She's not happy about having to do a proper job to pay the bills. Like *ordinary* people do.

David

She’s not happy about having to do a proper job to pay the bills. Like *ordinary* people do.

Oh, the indignity. It’s just like Cersei being forced to walk naked through the smallfolk of King’s Landing.

Another Guardian reader is now suggesting a publicly funded “arts dole,” exclusively for people who call themselves artists but who don’t actually make anything that anyone wants to buy.

lovegoats

What's with the beard? I read the article in hope of an explanation. I came to the comments in hope of an explanation.

No explanation.

I shall come back in my lunchtime.

David

What’s with the beard?

I’m assuming it’s an artistic and theatrical device. Not a natural feature.

sH2

Best line:

I could try to explain to you why we should fund the arts,

So she could do it. But she can't be bothered.

Short version:

"Look, just give me the fucking money, okay?"

Lancastrain Oik

Grant money is pumped back into the economy and employs numerous people. Not just “artists” in their tophats and twiddly moustaches, but tradies, techies, cleaners, caterers and more.

Well, the roadies will be paying VAT on their pints of snakebite.

David

“Look, just give me the fucking money, okay?”

Heh. Given her difficulties mustering an argument, let alone a compelling one, that does seem to be the gist of it. Though again, I think we’re supposed to be moved to tears (and deference) by the fact that Ms Marr and her peers have to spend any time at all working in terribly unartistic jobs like food retail and – gasp - accounts payable.

David

So she could do it. But she can’t be bothered.

You have to appreciate that Ms Marr must be exhausted, physically and emotionally spent, from “the hours of work it takes to write a grant application.” And getting free money – free to her, that is – should just happen automatically. Because she’s so artistic and so vital to the turning of the world.

Nikw211

Says Zoe Marr Combs:

    Being an artist is a job. Like any job, it requires training, skill, and hard work

After a quick Google search I found … I'm sorry, I simply don't have the vocabulary to express the emotion I felt on discovering this video demonstrating how Marr Combs used that funding.

Just watch the first 2 minutes - that's all it takes to understand just what Marr Combs means by training, skill, and hard work.

David

Just watch the first 2 minutes

I managed about fifteen. I have of course added a link to the post.

Can I have some chocolate now?

Franklin

I started to critique her argument, but really I just can't believe how badly written that essay is.

David

Incidentally, the nearest Ms Marr comes to attempting a justification for why she and her peers should be given your earnings via state confiscation and regardless of your preferences – beyond the obvious indignity of not being popular – is a link to another Guardian article by the leftist playwright and Islamist cheerleader David Edgar, in which he moans, “Surely we don’t have to justify giving public money to the arts? Again?”

He goes on to say, “When it was founded in 1946, the Arts Council could justify its activities in its own terms,” i.e., as an “ennobling” project, and he quotes the Council’s founding chairman John Maynard Keynes as saying, “Death to Hollywood.” However, Mr Edgar is careful not to mention that the very same Arts Council founder regarded his creation as a temporary measure, specific to its time in post-war Britain, and expected it to be obsolete long before now. And yet it’s still here, bloated beyond decency, an object of ridicule.

Mr Edgar then tells us, rather loftily, that the “crucial role of art” is to “challenge the way society is run.” In other words, to advance politics to which Mr Edgar, a socialist, is sympathetic. And which seems both presumptuous and narrow as a view of what art should do. Let alone as a reason why people like Ms Marr and Mr Edgar deserve your earnings more than you do.

Min

Mr Edgar then tells us, rather loftily, that the “crucial role of art” is to “challenge the way society is run.” In other words, to advance politics to which Mr Edgar, a socialist, is sympathetic.

Do these people understand it's bullshit like this that makes me want the Arts Council shut down?

Ten

I wonder, how does one get to this level of vanity and presumed entitlement?

I have some ideas...

But, perhaps tangentially, maybe sometimes the Almighty speaks incomprehensibly. Why I do not know, but so it is claimed nonetheless.

David

Do these people understand it’s bullshit like this that makes me want the Arts Council shut down?

I’d guess not. But hey, who wouldn’t want their taxes subsidising wave after wave of naff socialist agitprop?

Hal

And by surrendering a further $12,000 of taxpayers’ money to “enrich the sensory theatre practice” of one person “with master classes and mentoring in Body Mind Centring praxis.”

The Power of Now, among other titles that immediately popped into mind when I read that, where according to Amazon at this split second;

See all 48 formats and editions

Kindle
$7.32
Read with our free app
Hardcover
$16.67
397 Used from $0.01 93 New from $5.95 5 Collectible from $9.95
Paperback
$7.70
460 Used from $0.47 216 New from $6.49 2 Collectible from $5.99
Audible
$14.95 or Free
or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Audio CD
$28.56
20 Used from $20.77 40 New from $20.39

I'll grant that one does have to do one's own reading and working through the exercises, and there prolly aren't cocktail parties and online cheerleaders involved, but then that is the advantage of doing one's own reading . . .

Hal

“It is very important for human sanity to have the arts and to fund the creation of it. Otherwise we run the risk of becoming mere robots.” He or she seems to imagine that unless we keep throwing other people’s cash at things like this, and people like Ms Marr, we’ll all lose our minds and only tumbleweed will roll across a denuded cultural landscape.

I'll try and remember to keep such in mind as I continue to work through my several foot high stack and collection of assorted electronic files of fiction and non fiction reading backlog.

David

Free cake for anyone who can identify which TV programme this is from.

Hey, I’m just sharing some culture.

Rob

"Grant money is pumped back into the economy and employs numerous useless B-Arkers."

Captain Nemo

Columbo. I'll have a carrot cake, please David.

David

Columbo.

Bingo, Captain. Specifically, the classic episode Swan Song, aired in 1974 and featuring that villainous pilot-cum-gospel singer (and maker of squirrel chili) Mr Johnny Cash.

[ Grabs handful of cake, shoves it into envelope, licks fingers. ]

Sam Duncan

“Grant money is pumped back into the economy and employs numerous people.”

Ahoy! Broken Window Fallacy to larboard, Cap'n!

“Mr Edgar then tells us, rather loftily, that the “crucial role of art” is to 'challenge the way society is run.'”

Which would be, in 2015, the regulatory welfare state. So it's not even doing that.

Hedgehog

A series that actually reveals her claim of funding integrity and aesthetic high-mindedness as – how shall I put this? – less than convincing.

Her readership (being Guardianistas) do not consider her integrity and aesthetic high-mindedness as being at all in doubt. Her inclusion of the link to Blair's piece serves to document that these people (i.e., people like Blair) are, indeed, not her mates. And not her presumed readers' mates, either.

neal

Johnny, peace be upon him. Drying out in a cave is method acting.
Pursed lips, and his hair was perfect.

So, if any merge with the real world, and broadcast, best men are employed to investigate.

If Peter had two eyes, Johnny would have not wondered where the glassy one was staring at. Probably.

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

Zoe, Zoe, Zoe: So mindnumbingly average, so mediocre. Johnny Cash: Talented and worked like a damn dog all his life, never took any taxpayer handouts. I wonder which is the Real Artist?

mojo

I thought they were all named Bruce?

Bloody Aussies.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

Grant money is pumped back into the economy and employs numerous people.

Zero is a number.

R. Sherman

Johnny Cash.

Greg Allan

"A more recent poetic work by Ms Marr can be savoured here."

I almost want her done for plagiarism...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt-YU13KfEM

David

“Look, just give me the fucking money, okay?”

It’s interesting that so many of these articles about art funding are premised on an assumption that the public – the supposed customer, the people for whom the art is supposedly being done – shouldn’t get to decide whether it’s worth paying for and encouraging. Apparently, the public, the customer, should not be the arbiter of what’s worth the price of a ticket. That simply wouldn’t do. Instead, Ms Marr invokes a need for “a panel of professionals,” i.e., people with pretensions and conceits much like her own, to assess her work’s “community relevance.”

This assumption that the public should be milked but have no say is rarely made explicit for obvious reasons and is usually hidden in the verbiage, behind all that chest-puffing and self-admiration. But occasionally, due to carelessness, it’s hard to miss. As when Bettina Camilla Vestergaard, a competent freeloader but piss-poor artist was busy signalling her elevation above mere commerce, i.e., above the public’s preferences, and denounced “the choking effects of the market.” By which she means the expectation that one should make some effort to please the people currently being shafted and left with the bill. That’s what she finds choking and unendurable.

After all, the word “market” implies a reciprocal relationship – a voluntary exchange – and we can’t have that. What Ms Vestergaard wants, and what Ms Marr wants, and what so many of their peers want, is a non-reciprocal relationship - specifically, a parasitic one, in which taxpayers foot the bill but have no say whatsoever and are essentially irrelevant. Impotent patrons who just hand over their earnings, and their discrimination, and are quietly grateful for whatever they’re given, however shit it is. That kind of arrangement is, Ms Vestergaard says, much more liberating.

Horace Dunn

David

I think it's also worth adding to the discussion that the advocates of public arts subsidy who are not artists (or "artists") themselves, tend to be well-to-do professionals living in the metropolitan areas where artworks are readily accessible. Somehow, though, such people are disinclined to put their hands in their own pockets to cover the full ticket price and make essential intellectual endeavours such as Marr's commercially viable. It's far more appropriate to demand contributions from single mums in Trowbridge and retired mechanics in Nuneaton, even though they won't even be able to experience the cultural wonders that they're forced to pay for.

Anon

But love doesn’t pay the bills … unless your rich daddy’s set you up with a trust fund

You know what pays the bills?

Making stuff that other people are willing to pay for, and selling it to them.

You know, like artists are supposed to do.

Bluntnose

I like art subsidy because I lie art, but grants to individuals or for projects is a disaster. I think Tyler Cowen has written about this. Subsidy should be for venues and for hardship funds for artists who have made a proven contribution. Subsidised venues should be judged on how many people they get to come through the door and nothing else.

And Johnny Cash appeared in Columbo? Why didn't I know about that? I have an expensive higher education in the humanities, though, so I do know that Columbo was based on Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. I bet at least one of you didn't know THAT. At least one? One surely.

David

the advocates of public arts subsidy who are not artists (or “artists”) themselves, tend to be well-to-do professionals living in the metropolitan areas where artworks are readily accessible

It does get a little odd when you hear well-heeled self-described socialists demanding that shop assistants in, say, Leeds should subsidise the Southbank Centre in London, some 200 miles away, a distance that makes visiting the place difficult and costly, i.e., unlikely. And needless to say, regular visitors to the Southbank Centre are likely to be wealthier than most of the people who are being taxed to fund it. To the tune of around £20m a year plus £100m or so in refurbishment costs.

And of course the Southbank Centre, like many arts institutions, leans heavily to the patrician left, such that its former Big Cheese, Michael Lynch, conflated customer choice with philistinism and called companies that were unwilling to give him money a “bunch of bastards” with no “sense of values.” In his mind, “a sense of values” could never mean “It would be arrogant of me to assume that my personal tastes and career should be coercively funded by other people, most of whom are poorer than me, and many of whom will have very different tastes and priorities.” Or that, “People who dislike our rather smug leftist leanings, or who live too far away to receive any benefit from the venue, shouldn’t be forced to indefinitely bankroll an unviable institution that they may find culturally irrelevant.” Or even, “Wherever possible, one should try not to impose on others.”

Having a sense of values never seems to mean anything like that.

Bluntnose

It does get a little odd when you hear well-heeled self-described socialists demanding that shop assistants in, say, Leeds should subsidise the Southbank Centre in London, some 200 miles away

Although, to be fair, there seems to be a lot of support for subsidised venues even among people who don't use them. Even shop girls in Leeds don't like to see the local theatres and cinemas close and will support them. What gets people's goats is the council paying an artist to write a boring play about what a bunch of turds the local taxpayers are. No more commissioned art!

Of course, London gets more than its fair share but the biggest culprit is the Royal Opera House, not the galleries. I can almost never afford to go to the Royal Opera, but I can't say I would like it to close. Partly because on the rare occasions I have been, it has been life changing.

The problem isn't subsidy per se, but how it is distributed.

David

Bluntnose,

For reasons that escape me and despite attempts to correct it, your comments keep getting snagged in the spam filter. If it happens again, email me and I’ll shake them free.

Bluntnose

No problem. It may be because I am at work and we have certain 'protocols' apparently. I don't what they are, or even what they might be, but I expect they make everything worse.

Richard Powell

Ms Marr seems to offer (very bad) light entertainment, rather than anything with artistic pretentions as usually understood. Or perhaps I've missed layer or two of '"irony", which seems to be everywhere these days. Light entertainment doesn't usually receive public subsidy, with the exception of the BBC, where we'll be paying several million quid for Chris Evans to present Top Gear for the next few years.

A short while back the Arts Council of Wales decided to cut funding for the Wales Arts Review. There was a attempt to raise £7,000 by crowd funding, which failed to meet the target. (I was one of those who contributed, because it occasionally publishes some decent stuff, and the cultural life of my Fatherland needs all the help it can get.) I was surprised so few people were prepared to stump up. I'd have expected a few more people to care.

Despite this setback the WAR continues to publish. Here's its manifesto:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9d_LxDTomh_Zmg0VFZOZ1NnTzg/view

It repays some attention, as it provides a wonderful little snapshot of the mindset of the cultural elite - and it was published at a time when the wider public had made their indifference brutally obvious.

Incidentally, last time I went to the Royal Opera House (2013, to see Wozzeck) it cost me £4, booked on the day.

AC1

"Even shop girls in Leeds don't like to see the local theatres and cinemas close and will support them"

Obviously not by doing the one thing that would guarantee they stay open...

buy tickets at events they host.

David

it provides a wonderful little snapshot of the mindset of the cultural elite… at a time when the wider public had made their indifference brutally obvious.

Wow. Given the level of pomposity and self-admiration, it’s hard to believe the Welsh public only ignored the writers of the Wales Arts Review. I mean, grabbing pitchforks and chasing them into the sea wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable.

Bluntnose

Light entertainment doesn't usually receive public subsidy, with the exception of the BBC, where we'll be paying several million quid for Chris Evans to present Top Gear for the next few years.

Which is an important point that rarely gets mentioned in these discussions.

David

I bet at least one of you didn’t know THAT.

That I didn’t know. Help yourself to cake.

On Columbo and its guest stars.

Rob Crawford

By-the-by, the other fellow in the picture with Cash would layer become famous in another TV role. Boss Hog from Dukes of Hazzard.

Rob Crawford

*later

Quint&Jessel, Sea of Azof, Bly, UK

Man. Those who came up with the "manifesto" in the Wales Arts Review don't think they're freaking geniuses or anything, do they? Pompous gits.

dw

Mr Edgar then tells us, rather loftily, that the “crucial role of art” is to “challenge the way society is run.” In other words, to advance politics to which Mr Edgar, a socialist, is sympathetic. And which seems both presumptuous and narrow as a view of what art should do. Let alone as a reason why people like Ms Marr and Mr Edgar deserve your earnings more than you do.

That.

David

That

Well, the gist seems to be that we, the unenlightened, should be forced to pay socialist propagandists to propagandise. That we should be paying them to tell the rest of us how we should live and what we should want. Because they’re so clever. By their own reckoning.

The word vanity isn’t quite strong enough.

Gregoryno6

I'll pass on the links. I don't know how much of my hard-earned has gone into the pockets of (ahem) exceptional talents like this young lady, but viewing the work I helped paid would be pure masochism.
Funny how these mooches claim to have something to share with the public but won't ask the public directly for the money to make it happen. Thanks to the internet that has become an option through sites like Kickstarter. Check out a crowdfunded success called Kung Fury. The filmmaker, David Sandberg,raised $630,000 - his initial target was only a third of that. He started by making a trailer, which gave the donors an idea of what their money would be buying.
Local grant-feeders by contrast justify themselves with watery appeals like 'Australian stories have to be told!'

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