The fine art of funding creativity effectively

From: Jack Brown, Lamb Lane, Monk Bretton, Barnsley.

I HAVE loved and supported arts of all kinds since I was a teenager and have published poems appreciated by artists (including Ted Hughes) since that time. I was chairman of Culture at South Yorkshire County Council (SYCC) and my committee subsidised arts in Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley.

I have had more than adequate experience to challenge political subsidy of the arts. Most artist friends are reluctant to “come out” even though they have never been subsidised.

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Their concern testifies to the overweening power of Arts Council England (ACE). Nevertheless, they share my conclusions.

First, state arts subsidies undermine competition and do not ensure survival of the fittest. Their prime purpose should be training and education. Second, art subsidies should not be available to individuals and groups, literary magazines, etc. They should be confined to centres of excellence. Third, local authorities should have ring-fenced budgets to promote the arts through guarantee against loss on promotions by local societies.

This was the most successful procedure we used at SYCC. All arts thrived; jazz and folk in particular could plan a year’s advance programme.