Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Polly Identifies Tory Achilles Heel - We're Screwed!

Polly is really scraping the barrel today when it comes to looking for some leftie brilliance to happy slap David Cameron’s well being stance. Today she has arts funding… there’s an election winner if ever I’ve seen one.

“The Brighton festival, which I chair, ended its three exuberant weeks on Sunday, celebrating a 40th anniversary as England's biggest arts festival, (second in Britain only to Edinburgh). Half a million people came to see performances from the highest to the lowest art, opening with a parade of 70 primary schools, all the children dressed as food. Was the high spot the Groupe F pyrotechnics arts performance, with 70,000 people out in Preston Park, or was it Dawn Upshaw singing in the Brighton Dome with the Australian Chamber Orchestra?”

Sounds right up Guttersnipe’s street… but I think the Reading festival, Glastonbury and most football matches attract a higher turnout and you have to pay for them… I doubt we’ll miss it. Still she’s not crowbarred politics in there yet or has she?

“These things bursting out up and down the land are as good a measure of wellbeing as any. But they all cost money. David Cameron is unlikely to pledge extra arts funding in pursuit of happiness: his one firm promise is that his tax-and-spend will be "dramatically different after five years".”

There she goes… art is dead under the Tories. Maybe he might be focussing on crime, health, education… any of these things sound important Poll? Eh?

“Labour has a good enough story to tell on the arts - up 64% in cash and more in impact. Chris Smith is one of the few politicians to retire knowing he has done something brilliant - restoring free entry to museums and galleries, swelling attendances by 50%.”

This is a classic piece of leftie spin and she’s swallowed quicker than if Gordon undid his trousers for her… Labour didn’t do some glorious revolution and “restore free entry to museums” they just ordered all the museums that they could to stop charging entry. They didn’t give them any more money, they justy pulled the fees. Collections such as the Royal Armouries, Imperial War Museum etc, are now losing out to private collectors and employing bottom rate people without an ounce of history knowledge like never before.

To add to this rant… what use to the museum is 50% more visitors if they can’t charge them? It’s no fecking use at all. She continues.. although in what direction I really don’t know.

“As part of the Brighton festival, John Carey debated his latest book, What Good Are the Arts? With witty iconoclasm he demolished any claim for their moral virtue. Forget any idea they make us "better" people: Nazi leaders played Beethoven and even Bach as they fed people into gas chambers. Hitler was a knowledgeable art lover.”

So the arts will not make society or us better… so I now don’t see the reason to state fund them.. do you?

“It's hard to know if Cameron's "happiness" was a one-day wonder or if it will be the stuff of real politics. If so, Labour should be able to knock him into nowhere with stories from the arts - whether it's art for art's sake, arts for regeneration and education or arts for illumination and exhilaration.

So her plan for “knocking Cameron into nothing” consists of free museum entry and 4 paragraphs on “Artists with Teachers”. Prescott’s probably safe then..

“Take all those high scorers in the felicific calculus, raise the stakes and challenge Cameron to tell us how he will offer all this extra happiness on his "dramatically different" tax and spend.”

I imagine that low crime, better healthcare and education might just swing it for us.. sadly Polly won’t be happy until there are more dissected sharks in Trafalgar Square.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"what use to the museum is 50% more visitors if they can’t charge them?"

Well, it does rather depend upon what you think the purpose of a museum is in the first place. Are they for education or merely visitor attractions? For the Victorians it was clearly the former; recent governments have focused on the latter.

Some museums are forbidden by law to charge admission, but there are of course other ways of relieving visitors of their cash besides charging at the front door.

As you note, the key point that was missed in all of the fuss about charging was that the abolition only applied to the central government-funded National museums.

The losing out to private collectors is because of the freezing of purchase funds - but hey, at least they have purchase funds. As for the quality of staff, I can't comment - but it is clear that when staff change jobs frequently, they don't have the opportunity to build up the specialised knowledge that adds tremendously to the value (in all senses) of the objects in a collection.