Arts cuts - the show must go on

1 September 2010 | By Cause4 staff

August is the month of results. A-Levels and GCSEs are "the best yet" (again...). However, for the arts world it has been an uphill struggle. Many arts organisations have come under threat of closure and recently The Scottish Opera has announced that it has been forced to operate part of its operation part-time.

The Guardian has this month published a debate between leading theatre directors stuck in the middle of the crisis, Adrian Jackson and David Parrish. Jackson has argued that cuts aren’t going to help arts organisations like his which exercise a social function - Jackson is the director of Cardboard Citizens which employs and engages homeless people. He argues that the prospects of funding being curbed will have a much broader effect. What is more, Jackson says, being an RFO (Regularly Funded Organisation) has provided them with a "mark of respect from the arts sector". He puts it bluntly: "If you shrink the core funding, you shrink the company."

On the other hand, Parrish, who is artistic producer of Creation Theatre in Oxford, can see a light at the end of the arts tunnel. Even though the theatre company relies upon ticket sales and donations from private individuals and trusts to remain solvent, Parrish says that actually cuts in arts funding might even do arts organisations some good. Unlike Jackson who is inclined to think that the cuts will limit what they can do, Parrish believes that it will encourage more innovative and resourceful thinking and it will stop the same things from being done again and again.

Cause4 supports Jackson and agrees with Parrish - but we are not sitting on the fence! We believe that art which helps to achieve social change has especial value, but Parrish is also on the mark. Indeed, we also agree with David Lister‘s excellent piece in The Independent - cutting budgets could radicalize culture - allowing for the messages of imagination, radicalism and challenge to be part of the business message, as well as that of the artistic output.

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