Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Tickets To Ride

As a retired drill corporal, sometime scrum half on many rugger pitches, spectator at many soccer and rugby grounds and noisy veteran of drinking holes in many places, the Arts may not seem to fit my marketing segment or target consumer sector.

But being born at a time before these forms of social division were invented, TV watching was something done in the dark by people with a lot of money to spare and you just went along to whatever performance was going on without bothering much so a liking for what is defined as arty and elitist just happened.

The elite thing is a nonsense.  The real elite are the performers and that is why the audience is there.  Having done a lot of arty stuff in recent decades the great majority of those in the seats and especially those standing are far from being from the political, landed or the economic elites.

Sometimes people clearly elite are present.  Once I was in the Royal Box at the old Wembley for a football match along with Princess Anne who clearly would have preferred the players to have been mounted. 

At other times and watching the football on TV now it seems almost compulsory for our political and media elite to join the wealthy owners in the prime seats.
Doing the head count at various venues and looking at who is where watching what my experience is that there are many more of our real elites at sports events than the occasional stray ones at Arts productions.

What this means is that the monies given to the Arts in the past may well have allowed persons in the middling orders mostly and others in the lower to access more arts than might have been the case. 

Critically, it may have allowed some forms to exist that might not have done and to be available in some areas that might not have had much at all, if any.

Opinions will vary on this and there are issues of taste.  But the pressure of modern government finances and the neo-liberal on one hand, with the ultra Left and certain religious groups on the other will want to reduce drastically or even eliminate a great deal of the musical world that we have at present.

Where Turkey goes will Europe and especially the UK follow?  Jessica Duchen draws attention to what is going on there now with the State dumping out of the Arts and leaving it to the markets or to charity.

Strangely, the BBC now tells us that after decades of running down its arts coverage and even then skewing it towards its political agenda, it now intends to do more and to go back to a time when it regarded itself as in the forefront.

Certainly in recent years a good deal of what it did do was often hapless and disorganised.  Its coverage of its own Proms on TV has been limited, quirky and difficult to follow despite it being one of the world's major musical festivals. 

Recently, Sky, first with Artsworld and now Sky Arts has moved way ahead.  In the last few months they have put on more from Covent Garden than the BBC has done in years and that as just a part of other coverage.

What everyone ought to watch out for is all the major parties looking to move government out of the Arts and leave it to the markets or sponsored activities.  

Could we be on the brink of the collapse of the Western Arts in the UK?

A dance to the music of time.

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