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?


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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Chancellor George Osborne got a standing ovation from the Tories for a package of tough measures  

The Conservative party would have us believe that the poor deserve to be punished

Andreas Whittam Smith
Tim Bell has lamented the fact that people don't do what they're told any longer  

Do what you’re told…or else. Now that rings a Bell

Simon Kelner
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?