Sunday, April 03, 2011

Art ?

This weeks moans from the artistic community regarding the cuts to their funding from the Arts Council are both annoying and amusing.

The luvvies are banging on about inclusiveness and yet they are running the more exclusive club in the world. You can be an artist in the UK only if you have been through the right training and live in the right places (specifically London or Brighton) and know the right people.

I've probably mentioned this before but it appears that if you haven't been through the correct processes you can't be creative. Not in the slightest. Or not officially anymore.

All this explains why someone like the English National Opera gets 18 million quid this year. On their website they boast that "37,000 saw a contemporary opera in 2009/10". 37,000 is less than twice the crowd that went to see the Warley show at the NEC the same year. And how much subsidy does the Warley club get for this ? Roughly £0. In fact they have to hire the venue and pay all the bills.

So which is more inclusive ?

My suggestion would be that some of this lovely arts cash should be going to promote the idea that everyone can be a little bit creative. Head over to Europe and you find events that use exhibition halls the size of the entire NEC and see 100,000 through the door in the three day period. That's nearly three times the ENO audience and more importantly, these are people who are active participants in their interest. I doubt many opera goers head home and start singing - no, for them it is (like football) a passive activity where they are merely audience.

We live in a time of recession, some might say economic slump, and yet there are things people can do to lift the gloom. It seems that the main thing they are allowed to do is sit and consume television. How much better life would be if the world was full of people in sheds making stuff. OK, it might be rubbish but then for every prima ballerina there are a hundred wannabies, but it doesn't matter. The very act of taking something and creating is IMHO A Good Thing. Sometimes people will even make something useful.

Yet if there is support, it's a very controlled version. You can go and try painting or weaving or pottery but you have to be told how to do so by someone qualified. A "proper" person. And you are then lead to believe that you can oly carry on with the "correct" materials and in the "correct" sort of place. In fact, to be honest, you probably shouldn't. Leave it to the experts. I mean it's not like we had any great artists who painted straight on to old boards did we ?

So how do we make art inclusive instead of exclusive ?

How do we wreast creativity from those who want to keep it for themselves ?

Can ordinary people break into the caball of arty types ?


Chris Ford said...

Lowry didn't get a penny either. Neither do I. But I do work in the arts and live in Brighton.
The imbalance will be there until we get sponsers with cash and in parliament... never then.

Phil Parker said...

And Lowry's seascapes are some of the greatest paintings in the world (IMHO having spent 20 minutes staring at a nearly white painting the first time I went to the Lowry). The problem I am railing against is that creativity has been reduced, in official terms at least, to something you choose to do at school rather like being a doctor or accountant. I want to see art being recognised as something anyone can do. As you say this means sponsors with cash and a wide variety of them (you can see what happens when there are very limited sponsors in the Louvre with all the dreadful religious paintings that we presumably very easy to sell to the church).

Why shouldn't everyone feel they have a stake ? People who do creative things will want to go and see shows where other people have done creative things. I bet the percentage of people who take part in amateur dramatics who also visi tthe theatre is greater than that of the who population.

Likewise people painting for fun will tent toward art galleries. At present though, I feel (and it's my blog so I get to say it) that for the average person Art is something they feel they don't understand and are excluded from. That's wrong IMHO so anything that can be done to get them involved and change this is A Good Thing.

Chris Nevard Model Railways said...

Girly musicians are generally alot prettier than obese, smelly socially challenged toy chuff chuff modellers - so I don't have a problem with the cash going in the existing direction.

If money was directed at railway modellers, they'd just spend it on limited editions (class 66 locos), more unfinished projects and moan even more on aRM(chair)web than they do.

(only kidding)

neil whitehead said...

All the great artists did it for the money, mainly the Church and rich people by commissioning art and giving to the Church thought they could secure a place in Heaven - not sure that works today. I think that creativity is everywhere, spread by the WWW of course and therefore more accessible. Everyone has some creativity in them but not sure that everyone can be an artist! Certain sectors of the arts have always received more exposure and therefore more money than others. It all depends on what you categorise as art. It can be split into highbrow and lowbrow, one of which gets the cash and the other doesn't. As an artist (painting, illustration, photography) running courses in the south west of France, all the people who have attended are amateurs and they want to be involved and learn more and understand more to get the best out of their abilities. They are not in it for the money, just enjoyment. Same as the artform known as railway modelling really.

Phil Parker said...

Good point. So what I am complaining about is that Highbrow art gets all the money yet excludes people from taking part unless thay have had the right training etc. wheras Lowbrow art is inclusive and therefore gets no funding.

The similarity with football is interesting. Professional footbal gets loads of cash yet the nearest you get to the pitch is shouting from the stand. Sunday league stuff gets no money yet involves people running around and keeping fit.

I still think the money is going to the wrong places but then that was ever the case. A very interesting discussion though.