UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is spending £1.57 billion on a ‘rescue package to help cultural, arts and heritage institutions.’
Personally I wouldn’t give them a penny. No good can possibly come of subsidising luvvies — British English for self-important actors and media types — to produce more endlessly woke agitprop.
In fact, the thing I was enjoying most about the Chinese coronavirus scare was the thought of all the subsidised exhibitions by ‘neglected’ female artists and subsidised dramas with BAME casts telling us how racist capitalism is and the subsidised operas which I have not the remotest interest in watching, all going dark — with luck forever — and nobody actually even noticing they’d disappeared apart from a few bien-pensants in Islington.
I feel more sympathy towards commercial theatre — which lives or dies by putting on stuff that audiences are prepared to pay for and want to see. But no more do I think it should be bailed out by the taxpayer than that airlines or any other business should be bailed out by the taxpayer. If these businesses have a future, then private investors will find a way of making their survival possible. If they don’t then let them die.
People who work in ‘the arts’ are constantly telling us how important they are to our wellbeing, about how nourishing culture is and how it’s a succour in times of crisis. I agree with this in theory — classical concerts lifting the spirits during the Blitz, and so on — but in practice, the arts have largely ceased to be about excellence, rigour, verisimilitude or, indeed, entertainment and have instead become a vehicle for advancing the politically correct agenda.
In fields like the visual arts, drama and, increasingly, in music too, talent is largely secondary to pushing the correct race, gender, sexuality, disability or, best of all, transgender buttons. To give one example: even though the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre is just down the road from me and even though I love Shakespeare, I have completely given up going to any of its productions because, thanks to its tick-box diversity casting the performances are often wildly uneven and visually confusing (white parents with black children, or whatever), and the directors (too many of them second-rate female ones) are more interested in making some wanky left-wing point about the injustice of Western civilisation than they are in putting on a really good Shakespeare play.
When, earlier in my career, I was Arts Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, my job seemed largely to consist of going to meetings where senior luvvies — directors at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, the Victoria & Albert Museum, etc — explained how wonderful they were and deserved more money. I was innocent then and believed them.
Now, my reply would be: show not tell. That is, if you really deserve the money then prove it: put on stuff that the public enjoy, stop lecturing them about politics, stop treating them like idiots, stop assuming the world owes you a living — then suddenly, amazingly, you’ll find that people won’t need to be bailing out your woke crap by being forced to do so through their taxes. They’ll actually pay you willingly — just like happens with every other service industry.
As a taxpayer, I deeply resent the idea that a penny of my money should end up anywhere near the pockets of millionaire mummers like the relentlessly overemployed star of every other BBC drama Maxine Peake. All these luvvies are either hard left or ultra-hard left. Peake, for example, a fan of Jeremy Corbyn, recently called for an end to capitalism and ludicrously claimed that the tactics used by the police in the US on George Floyd were taught them by the Israeli intelligence services.
And if Sunak insists on splurging this money on such an undeserving sector of the economy, then I think we should impose one condition in return: either the National Theatre or the RSC must be forced to do a complete season with cancelled actor Laurence Fox as their lead. Unlike all the luvvie Marxists I mentioned above, Fox has been rendered all but unemployable in the painfully woke realm of the arts just because he has the wrong — ie not hard left — politics. If the arts are going to be kept on life-support at taxpayers’ expense, then the very least they can start doing is to represent us taxpayers: not leftist loons, but mostly being gainfully employed conservatives…