Politicians…they are all too quick to jump in with leaks and playing to the populist newsmedia gallery.
This morning Harriet Harman was scheduled to give a speech on education and the arts at The Roundhouse. This morning her office, presumably fed soundbites to The Guardian with veiled accusations of inaccessibility directed at the Proms and the Royal Opera House.
You can read the piece here: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/jun/08/harriet-harman-state-arts-public
It is desperately depressing that politicians once more prioritise their own promotion and offering click bait to a newspaper site that reflects inaccurately the actual content of their speech.
The complete transcript can be read here: http://press.labour.org.uk/post/88265413304/speech-on-young-people-and-the-arts-by-harriet-harman
Slinging mud at premier artistic institutions is never a good tactic when you hope to become the next culture secretary. I would also like to know how she can tell by looking around her while in the audience of the ROH if any working class people where in the audience (I have asked her on Twitter, we may get an insight at the special skills required for such audience segmentation readings…see below). With ticket prices starting at £8 and many free events and exhibitions the ROH is trying to open up further. They run a busy programme of insight talks for both ballet and opera which are open to all. The Proms, for all their overdrawn programming and unsuitable main venue still allow for day tickets at the princely cost of £5. And broadcast every single concert for free on Radio 3.
Blaming them for the lack of access is the most counter-productive move possible. The subsidy for the arts in the UK and in comparison to most of continental Europe is very small and most of the institutions give excellent value for money. What they need from politicians in return is a stable funding basis so they continue to develop and not having to dread more cuts. The NHS is seen as the sacred cow that no government want to be seen to be tampering with but they have no issues with cutting most national art institutions nearly 20% of their funding. All under the logic that the arts are some luxury we can’t afford in recessionary times.
As the speech itself points out the issue lies with access to arts education and not allowing those disciplines to be the great unknown to the school children of the post-Gove era. The posh and the good of Britain always have had plentiful access to ballet, opera and classical music. The only way for the wider populace to come into contact with the arts is via the media and education. Why can’t simply Labour promise to fund adequately the important artistic institutions of the country and to also reverse the cuts to educational resources and funds for training. If the arts are
fundamental to what it is to be human
then Harriet don’t waste time attacking the very flagship institutions that create the art forms that we aspire to partake in. Spread the love not the negativity.