Arts funding is going, going – and if we don't think of alternatives, it will soon be gone

Plus: No sympathy for the devil in the booking detail for The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, and how did ITV's Savile documentary not win a BAFTA?

Share

The arts are suffering cuts, as we all know, with more probably
on the way. Public funding should not be cut, say campaigners for
the arts. Seek out more philanthropists, says the Government,
turning a blind eye to how difficult this is outside London. On
both sides there seems to be an unwillingness to look at wholly
different ways of raising money to preserve and improve the
nation's culture.

But there are other ways of raising money, radical and untried ways, and in the weeks to come before the Treasury's next announcement, they need to be considered. One that I am intrigued by is the thought of putting a tax on the auction houses, the likes of Sotheby's and Christie's, so that their profits can be ploughed back into the arts. It may not raise huge sums, but it is radical and imaginative. A conversation with leading figures in the Labour Party has indicated to me that they are indeed toying with this idea as a potential part of future Labour arts policy. Nothing official yet, but it's one piece of blue-sky thinking that could become reality.

Labour might indeed be willing to take on the auction houses. I suspect, though, that the present government would find a battle with Sotheby's and Christie's unpalatable. However, there is a measure it could take that would be more politically acceptable, one that would ease the strain on the public purse, and contain a certain amount of natural justice.

It could introduce a hotel tax, something commonplace abroad. With statistics continually showing that tourists are benefiting in huge numbers from our free museums and galleries, a hotel tax to help fund those museums and galleries seems a perfectly fair quid pro quo. Would tourists really object to supporting the culture they have come to Britain to see? We rarely raise an eyebrow when we encounter hotel taxes abroad.

Be it auction houses or be it hotels, some blue-sky thinking is needed to ensure that the debate that will intensify over the coming weeks is not focused solely, and almost certainly unproductively, on public funding and an increase in philanthropy. Yes, we want the arts to be properly funded, but on top of the essential money from the public purse, it's about time we had some imaginative thinking too.

No sympathy for the devil in the booking detail

Last week one reader nominated her local music festival for the "rip-off award" for the most grotesque use of booking fees. Inevitably, more nominations have come my way. Regular reader Hebe Gibbs tells me that she was keen to see The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park later this summer. It's well known that tickets will be a staggering £190 (ironic as the original Stones in the Park concert in the Sixties was free) but on discovering that, on top of the £190, there were the wretched additional charges, Ms Gibbs wrote to me, saying: "After the mouthwatering £380 for the two tickets, I was asked for £19 "service charge" followed by £5.50 postage at which stage I left the website in disgust." No weak puns needed about "can't get no satisfaction." This week's "rip-off award" will suffice.

So how did ITV's exposé not win the Bafta?

Congratulations, of course, to the BBC for winning a television Bafta for the best current-affairs programme with its programme on child abuse and the Catholic Church. I gather that, at the awards ceremony, faces were a little glum on the ITV table when that result was announced. They thought that they might win the prize for Exposure, the programme that revealed Jimmy Savile's predatory paedophilia to the world. I see their point. It was a documentary that led to numerous reports and inquiries, the disgrace of more than one "national treasure", shockwaves within the national broadcaster including the exit of a director-general, and other repercussions that have meant that barely a day has passed without some press and TV coverage of the people and issues involved. Exactly what more does a TV documentary have to achieve to win a prize?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Pete Doherty: To anyone struggling with addiction, just hang on — for more than ten years I've been powerless, but there's a way out

Pete Doherty
Former Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry and the image she tweeted from Rochester  

Rochester by-election: Forget Emily Thornberry, Labour long since betrayed the working class

Michael Collins
US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines