David Thompson


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March 07, 2013



"They need a sense of values."

Irony overload.


the remarkably unpopular West Bromwich arts centre, boldly named The Public, which two years after opening had failed to attract a single paying customer.

You know it's got to be a disaster when even the Guardian won't defend it.

Even free concerts and other events held at the centre have attracted few visitors. One performance, by the soul singer Aisha, drew an audience of just 17 people.

The bubble blowers look pretty good value now.


The bubble blowers look pretty good value now.

And they double as pens!


The bubble blowers look pretty good value now.

It’s an inevitable effect of our Arts Council system. By disconnecting artists from the preferences of the public, while still taking the public’s money in advance, by force via taxes, the normal corrective forces are sidestepped. And flummery ensues. The socialist method of funding encourages and rewards a small, politically generic class of hustlers and parasites whose attitude is often one of contempt for the public and certainly for expectations of an aesthetic experience. Hence we get taxpayer-funded arts “festivals,” the highlights of which include an an ironing board draped with light bulbs and two tables covered in sand and fag ends.

If they already have your money, and if you have no say in whether they get more of it, why should they care what you think?

An American at the end of his patience.

" My God, it's full of stupid!"


"...The blue and orange bubble blowers, which double as pens,..."

So they're giving something that could be used to stab people to drunks and hoping what exactly? That they'll be too drunk to see the potential?


You know it's got to be a disaster when even the Guardian won't defend it.

And when the best options include 'walking away' and 'demolition'.


There should be a special Arts Tax. It would be paid by any artist who applies for public money. The proceeds being ring-fenced to buy Adele albums for lonely working class girls from Hull and Stevenage.

My God! Could I get an Arts Council grant for that?


You know it’s got to be a disaster when even the Guardian won’t defend it.

Oh, they did defend it, a couple of times, though not very well.

The project was originally pitched as a “digital arts centre” and was granted local, regional, national and European funding chiefly on the assumption that “the arts” would regenerate the region – though exactly how this was supposed to happen isn’t entirely clear. It’s hard to see the economy being driven into overdrive by “interactive galleries” (none of which worked), or workshops in avatar-making, or by Mr Pinchbeck’s crushed car full of tat. After endless technical and admin problems, and after pissing away a staggering amount of public money, the venue finally sidelined artistic exhibitions, almost altogether, in favour of more popular uses, such as office space. Oh, and comedy and music performances, many of them either subsidised or “free” - which is to say, once again, bankrolled by the taxpayer. I vaguely recall Margaret Hodge, then Labour’s Culture Minister, saying something about the disaster-prone venue being ‘exemplary’ and ‘the future of the arts’. I think the total bill was last reported as £72 million.

Many towns and cities, including my own, have very similar follies. The local council in its wisdom spent £15 million on a “cultural exhibition space” that was almost immediately insolvent, derided by practically everyone, and open for barely a year. Last I heard, the gutted, rusting eyesore had been bought by one of the universities for about 10% of the original cost.


Speaking of shafting the taxpayer…


" My God, it's full of stupid!"

Posted by: An American at the end of his patience.

Never a truer word!


I am reminded of how Terry Pratchett's Vetinari dealt with "conceptual" "artists". ;-)


Hopefully they are as effective at sockpuppetry as they are interesting people in extortion funded arts.


"They need a sense of values."

I love how this always means "feeling totally entitled to other people's money".


I love how this always means “feeling totally entitled to other people’s money.”

Well, it is odd that when used by such people, the phrase doesn’t seem to mean, “It would be arrogant of me to assume that my personal tastes and career should be coercively funded by other people, 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.

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