This question was put to me recently and since I am in receipt of public funding for my work I thought I should write my response……
The Churchill Story:-When asked if public funding earmarked for Arts/Culture should be diverted to the War Effort Churchill famously replied “then what are we fighting for?”
The question of why the Arts should receive public funding makes me question what freedom is. The question and its very existence limits thought. Winston Churchill understood that Art & Culture is part of our freedom, that it is how we make sense of the world around us, that it holds people together and that it helps build a strong nation. I believe we need to change the terms of the debate and ask different questions….
- Why do we need to put forward a case? Why are we in a position of defence and explanation?
- What is driving the question of why should Arts & Culture receive public funding?
- Why do continually need to explain/justify that Arts/Culture is important, vital, and intrinsic to a successful society?
- What is the definition of a successful society?
- Why would A&C not receive public funding?
- What kind of society do we want in the UK going forward?
- Why is it not an unquestionable given along with Education & Healthcare for all? We look after the body and the mind but must not forget the human spirit. We must remember to feed the souls of our nation and that is not measurable in terms of ROI. Surely Art & Culture is an intrinsic and inextricable part of our welfare and democratically governed state? Therefore isn’t Art & Culture the right of every UK citizen and access to it, along with access to Health and Education?
- Why do we constantly need to explain/justify Arts and Culture in economic terms? Can we do that for once and for all and change the debate? Can we therefore concentrate on enlightenment beyond economic growth? CERN –an e.g. of investment in the seeking of scientific fundamental knowledge which is unquantifiable in terms of ROI. Why is this unquestionable and beyond attack whilst the funding to seek artistic fundamental knowledge is continually open to attack?
- Why is the position of Arts as central to the curriculum constantly challenged and changed? – What is education for? Do private/public schools ever question the importance and vital inclusion of Arts & Culture?
- Do we want a Britain where Art & Culture only belongs to those who can afford it?
- Where are all the activists? The Artist as Activist
A 20 year longitudinal study of x number of children (or use existing research)) to show the ROI (Return on Investment) of Arts & Culture on the individual over a long period of time and how that investment saves public funding on that individual in ALL other publicly funded areas – Health, Education, Judicial system, Policing, Prison service etc. etc.
- Equality of Opportunity – Education –Arts therefore needs to be integral and central to the curriculum
- Leaders within the cultural sector need to own/lead/change the debate. (This is already beginning to happen with such things as ‘What Next?’ and the ‘Cultural Learning Alliance’ but how do we prevent this becoming another decade of answering the same questions?
- The Olympic Opening ceremony articulated a response to the question ‘Why should the Arts/Culture receive public funding?’ Culture & The Arts equals our cultural national heritage and our country’s identity. That response inspired and created a public pride and consensus. That needs to be harnessed and utilised. Move towards a society/country of culture.
- We need a greater understanding and therefore support of Arts & Culture by the majority not the minority. If the public do not feel Arts & Culture is part of their life how can they be advocates for it? Currently we are creating a country of passive consumers of the Arts/Culture.
- As a sector we must influence and change government policy around Arts & Culture
And it’s only Monday….
The All-Female Shakespeare Project is funded by The Arts Council of Wales