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Friday Ephemera

Cargo Culture, Reheated

Or, You’ll Get What You’re Given And Like It, Bitches™.

For readers with an interest in really bad art and its coercive public funding, this post and subsequent discussion over at Artblog, which some of you may have missed, offers quite a lot to chew on. Because I’m vain and shallow, I’ll quote myself:

The political uniformity and extraordinary conceits of our own publicly-funded arts establishment have entertained us many, many times. As when the writer Hanif Kureishi told Guardian readers that culture, as represented by him, is “a form of dissent,” while the paper’s theatre critic Michael Billington claimed that a reduction of taxpayer subsidy for loss-making plays is nothing less than “suppression” of that “dissent.” Likewise, when the playwright Jonathan Holmes claimed that he and his peers are “speaking truth to power” – I kid you not – and insisted, based on nothing, that “the sole genuine reason for cuts is censorship of some form” and “the only governments to systematically attack the arts have been the ones that also attacked democracy.”

You see, the suggestion that artists might consider earning a living, rather than leeching at the taxpayer’s teat, is apparently indistinguishable from fascist brutality and the end of civilisation. Though when the status quo in London’s dramatic circles is overwhelmingly leftwing, and when publicly subsidised art and theatre tend to favour parties that favour further public subsidy for art and theatre, what “dissent” actually means is somewhat unclear. And reluctant taxpayers please take note: Despite all the years of providing hand-outs, you’re now the oppressor.

The whole thing, as they say.