The carnage is our culture, let the vultures devour the carcass

The carnage is our culture, let the vultures devour the carcass

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 27, November, 2017

WHEN MICHAEL GOVE was Education Secretary he found he had to take on the "Blob" of the establishment. The very educated establishment it appeared. So too conservatives have had to bite hard against established privilege in many policy areas.

Remember when climate change was more dangerous than ISIS? When reigning-in government spending would kill the economy? The Blob is all around us, built of decades of slowly simmering groupthink that tells the rest of us how we should live our lives.

But what suckles this beast? It is none other than what I call the Boob. There I've said it. Almost no current vested interest in the arts or education can do without the teet of the taxpayer. The extent to which art has been made a client of the state is horrifying to me. East Germany, China, North Korea all excelled at the control of culture by the state.  The UK, and Scotland especially, have followed suit.

Then again they tried to apply bureaucracy and planning to everything and look what happened. I have no idea when this obsession with taxpayers patronising the arts came about but the explosion in National Lottery funding has made the issue far greater.

There was a time when lottery grants attracted ridicule. Now the absurd is so common it has become normalised. News has broken that Creative Scotland is facing a cut of £5m in funding as lottery sales decline. 

Notwithstanding that gambling causes significant harm to vulnerable groups, the degree to which public funds are diverted to highbrow or niche areas tests the patience.

The Herald reports that, "among 118 Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) are some of the biggest names in Scottish culture, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Glasgow Film Theatre, the Citizen's Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre and the Edinburgh International Festival".

Are we serious? Given the vast sums earned by many leading performers and many hotels in Edinburgh charging over £300 a night during August, why on Earth should the taxpayer let alone gamblers pay for any of this?

Culture is the creation of man, not a group of men, but all men and women. Some are more talented and well marketed than others, indeed some are far more talented than the public unwisely otherwise believes.

Could it be that hundreds of contrived, lefty, just out of uni, sarcastic hipsters aren't that funny? Is this why so many events at the Fringe are free? And why are the theatres not full? Could it be that so many tax funded theatre troupes are, well, not very good?

Culture is savage and unforgiving in its nature, it is the distillation of populism and not its enemy or superior. It is ultimately cumulative, receiving influences through the centuries and above all it is of man and so is organic.

Is it so bad that some terrible artists take up other more productive pursuits? How many more Oxbridge comedians do we need? When was the last time you went to a theatre show? For me it was a few months ago and there'll be many in Niddrie who haven't been in ten years.

We cannot expect a few worldly luvvies to plan our culture for us anymore than they would our political or economic future.

The culture vultures are circling, that can only be a good thing. Why not scrap Creative Scotland altogether and move away from the quangocracy that smothers our culture with such kindness? A criminal comedian like the Joker blowing up the whole thing is something I would definitely pay to watch. No subsidy required. 

Weaning art from the boob is the only way it will grow to its full potential.

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