Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Polly, Labour, the Arts and Tory forked-tongues

Polly Toynbee writing in the Guardian has some nice things to say about Labour and the flourishing ‘arts’ in Britain. She’s right that Labour has increased donations to artistic bodies especially in the quantity of small grants to small organisations. In contrast Conservative councils up and down the land are wont to cut arts funding to shave a few pence off the council tax.

Polly writes about such initiatives: “But they all cost money. David Cameron is unlikely to pledge extra arts funding in pursuit of happiness: his one firm promise is that his tax-and-spend will be "dramatically different after five years". Labour has a good enough story to tell on the arts - up 64% in cash and more in impact.”

It’s a similar story with the ‘voluntary’ or ‘third’ sector upon which Mr Cameron sets so much store to revive local communities. In practice these too have seen cuts imposed on them by Tory local authorities. In Gloucester, for example, the highly successful Neighbourhood Projects that were just starting to make a real impact have had to shed staff because the Tories have taken over at Shire Hall and cut their grants. Their buddies on the City council are threatening to close the Guildhall Arts Centre, the only real place in the County where anything vaguely ‘alternative’ can be staged. If they don’t close it no doubt they’ll try to emasculate it in the same way that their colleagues in Cheltenham did for the Everyman Theatre which now stages little other than ‘respectable’ stuff for ‘decent’ people.

But it’s hard to see Labour winning many votes through these incremental improvements to the sum of human happiness because, as Polly notes, “the press never reports [them]”. Hey hum. But it’s nice to have her article as a little counterbalance to Max Hastings’ one in which, as Councillor Piper puts it, the ex-Telegraph editor “dribbles and drools unashamedly over the boy Cameron.” . Nicely put Bob......

2 Comments:

At 09:32, Anonymous Jenni said...

I don't think that's a very correct assesment of the Everyman. When I were a lass I seem to remember it put on lots of really good plays and ballets, but now it mostly seems to be Z-list celebrities. So yes it's gone downhill but in a different way...

 
At 17:53, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Ah but it hasn't put on anything very "edgy" for ages. I remember overhearing a certain Tory local politician a decade or so back declaring that they were going to ensure it put on much more sensible stuff now they were in charge.

I'm not implying that I'd go to much (or any) of the edgy stuff but there should be an outlet for it somewhere......

 

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