Friday, January 19, 2007

BAC.

While the Devil's off in India living out his colonial wet dreams with Trixy (and I know there's nothing that turns him on more than the potential for sex and hegemony) his minions have a chance to sun themselves for a while, and I thought I'd take this chance to mention briefly a subject close to all your hearts... that's right; theatre. (sound of clattering chairs and a door swining open). No but wait. This is a good one. It's theatre and a Tory council being utter arses.

Cross-posted from my blog from:

There are few places in London that I enjoy an evening more than at the Battersea Arts Centre, surrounded by both staff and public who are unpretentious, enthusiastic and share a real love of theatre. Some of my happiest times in the brief period I've been in this smoggy metropolis have been drinking an overpriced Magners (something I can forgive them for as it would seem at present the potential for a reasonably priced Magners remains firmly untapped) in the BAC bar, chatting with actors, staff and assorted other utterly lovely people. It seems to attract them, probably something to do with the effort required in making it to this pleasantly quiet corner of South West London.

And this is before I ever mention the startling, exciting, gloriously naive and ambitious theatre that you can see there. From an evening of 5 minute sketches based around the fire of London in for the which the entire building was filled with smoke and Firemen, to the utterly magnificent Particularly in the Heartland you can always be guaranteed something interesting.

Which is why this news from Lyn Gardner has me postively foaming at the mouth with frustration:

Last week BAC's local council, Tory-governed Wandsworth, gave notice that from April 1 it intends to cut BAC's annual grant from £100,000 to zero and simultaneously start charging a commercial rent for the Lavender Hill building of more than £270,000 per annum. If this was to go ahead, BAC could not survive and would have to close.

£100,000. Probably the amount that the Tory led council spent on recycling pen lids last year. Surely, you don't have to be involved in theatre in any way (even in watching) to realise that this is an absurd situation. As Lyn says:

You might think local councillors would be thrilled and proud to be the custodians of such a local and national treasure; delighted by the 220,000 visitors that BAC receives each year and the positive impact that those visitors have on the local economy (about £2m-a-year, the centre estimates). But you would think wrong.

It's by no means cut and dried however hence this post is not a memorium but a call to arms. The head of Wandsworth council is Edward Lister, and here's a spiffy idea - email him. Really let off some steam and put all those hours of typing practise to some really good use. And for those people who might chance upon this and have a few more readers than my mere trickle. Please do spread the word.

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A bonus paragraph for you DK reader's missing the miserable bastard.

I personally think this is absolutely fucking outrageous. If I had my way I'd string these ignorant, cretinous little skat trolls up by their testicles and rip their insides out through their arseholes with a coathanger on the end of an electric whisk. To sacrifice London's most exciting and significant theatre venue for the sake of the amount of money that the head of the council probably spends on tissues to clean up after his feeble sweaty Webcameron wanks is utterly criminal. May they all find themselves with a copy of Titus Andronicus sticking out of every orifice while they slowly spit roast over an open fire.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah yeah, let me the taxpayer, fund you the arrogant arty type, HIS little wet dream that cant fund itself. If its that damn wonderful people will still come and pay market price. Otherwise it dies, just like every other minority, interest, state funded, self inflating useless project should. VIVA free choice!

Andrew Field said...

Funnily enough the BAC is not the London Palladium and rather than being stuffed to brimming with arrogant arty types it funds low, low ticket prices so that people who can't afford £35 for the sound of music etc can still see shows. It also supports community development programmes (including a great deal of work with local schools) and has helped develop (and continues to) some of the best theatre companies in the country - companies like Theatre De Complicite who have become international acclaimed (companies who otherwise would have had no place to start).

As is suggested the venue also brings in around £2m a year for local bars etc and is helping maintain the local community.

I don't think this is a case of these petulant (or arrogant or whatever) arty types kicking up a fuss because someone's pulling the plug on their little state-funded theatre love-in. This is an internationally renowned centre for the arts that is helping to sustain and support the local community and as well as providing a place where people who otherwise would never have the opportunity can see theatre. In my opinion such a facility is worth a sum as paltry as £100,000 a year.

How much will a London borough spend on a new Leisure centre? Or even on their an ad campaign (such as the "I Heart Hackney")?

PJ said...

Reading your blog on a regular basis I find myself generally in agreement with your writing but occasionally, and here I have to agree with anon above, you do show a distressing tendency to cuntishness.
As a presumed libertarian you must realise that the ongoing growth of totalitarianism is being greatly aided by the arts. Particularly the performing arts. With the lonely exception of an recently infamous ballerina its almost impossible to find anyone on the stage who doesn't dress to the left in their political thinking and she's only embrased a different flavour of the same dish.
Subsidised theatre is the distilled essence of collectivism. It's paying people to enjoy themselves because they dont want to stump up the money themselves. And I'm including the business in this as much as if not more than the audience.
Let's be honest, arts people would do what they do whether they were paid or not. In reality, it's only the ones who get a lucky break who get paid at all yet there's no shortage of aspiring thesps when there's an audition scheduled. If they complain about how hard they work its like me saying how tough it is spending the day in the pub. I just don't expect you to buy my pints.
The concept of subsidised arts is dependant on a collectivist outlook. That 'we' have more right to your hard earned dough than you do and then we'll 'give' you back what 'we' believe you should have. Is it surprising it's packed with collectivists and that what they 'give' us back is largely collectivist propoganda.
More dangerously, arts funding hampers the dissemination of libertarian ideas because libertarian philosophy threatens the concept of subsidised arts at its root. The premise that the state knows best.
As you'd expect, I don't have a lot of time for the audience either. Like it or not most consumers of the subsidised arts are better off than the average. It's the girls from the factory floor who save up for their once a year coach outing to a West End (profit making) show. There's no assistance from the local authority for staging that £50 a ticket rock spectacular. They just want their cut. However, for some reason filling the stalls with socially concerned, well heeled professionals so they can revel in yet another gritty tale of the Miners' Strike or the delights of the Cuban Revolution is supposed to warrant a hundred grand a year subsidy?
In one word - BOLLOCKS

PJ said...

Thankyou Andrew Field... community development programs,... local schools (keep your fucking socialist hands off our kids),... 'best' theatre companies,... internationally acclaimed (by more fucking socialists),... sustaining & supporting the local community,... paltry £100,000.....you just proved my point.
As for "Theatre De Complicite" I literally couldn't agree with you more as I would also suggest that "companies who otherwise would have had no place to start" have probably already found the best solution for us all.

PJ said...

Thankyou Andrew Field... community development programs,... local schools (keep your fucking socialist hands off our kids),... 'best' theatre companies,... internationally acclaimed (by more fucking socialists),... sustaining & supporting the local community,... paltry £100,000.....you just proved my point.
As for "Theatre De Complicite" I literally couldn't agree with you more as I would also suggest that "companies who otherwise would have had no place to start" have probably already found the best solution for us all.

PJ said...

My apologies DK. I just checked the byline on today's post and now realise there's been an Infernal coup by the Tooting Popular Front.
Do you require armed assistance? A10's loaded down with napalm ( I love that gasoline in the morning, it smells of ....victory) are fuelled and waiting on the flight deck. We have cluster bombs. We have depleted uranium. We only await your call.

MatGB said...

Yo, PJ. There are a few rules for commenting in this place. One of them is coherence. The other is paying attention.

In your 4th comment, we see you've finally managed the latter, now can we try to mange the former?

I think, having read the entire ramble, that you may have a small point hidden behind the contradictions and attack dogging. May have. Shame you can't actually assemble a few paragraphs coherently to make it.

Andrew; I think PJ may have a few points there about subsidies, market responsiveness and collectivism. I think. I also think they'd be easy to knock down point by point, because, y'know, this Left Libertarian (very) occasional contributor is sort of on your side. Besides, I'm moving to London to, need something cheap to do on occasions; they got anything good on now?

Sam Duncan said...

"Funnily enough the BAC is not the London Palladium and rather than being stuffed to brimming with arrogant arty types it funds low, low ticket prices so that people who can't afford £35 for the sound of music etc can still see shows."

Ever heard of amateurs? I know of several amateur societies in Glasgow who do professional-quality (yes, really) musical theatre on £10,000-per-performance budgets in 1500-capacity theatres without a penny of subsidy. Everything from, yes, the Sound of Music, through Offenbach to the likes of Sondheim. Ticket prices start under a tenner. "Ordinary people" come along. And take part.

They struggle to survive of course. But they carry on, doing it for nothing, donating money to cover costs, because it's fun.

If your place is so great (and I've no reason to doubt that it is), if it's worth that hundred grand, why do you need to force people to pay it? Those guys don't.

I have some sympathy about the rent-hike. But nobody should be forced to pay for art they don't want. Full stop.

"How much will a London borough spend on a new Leisure centre? Or even on their an ad campaign (such as the "I Heart Hackney")?"

Beats me. They shouldn't be doing that either.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Field:


If the patrons of BAC can afford to spend 2 million quid a year in the local bars and so on, how come they can't afford to spend 10% of that in the theatre?

Andrew Field said...

"I have some sympathy about the rent-hike. But nobody should be forced to pay for art they don't want. Full stop."

I can see your point (expressed as it is with a good deal more coherence than some) and though I know some residents of Wandsworth you are pissed about this (indeed, that is how I found out) I do not, of course, know all residents of Wandsworth.

The reason that the BAC is not able to work on an amateur basis is for the very reason I am attempting to get at above, that it is more than merely a theatre production company. It is a community centre, an education centre (even if I am sure they are doing nothing than other teaching the youth of Wandsworth the march in time to the Red Army Choir), and it is (much to some people's chagrin) a centre for developing the arts.

In terms of purely putting on theatre it runs on an almost entirely volunteer, amateur basis - both the companies developing work and the ushers etc helping put the shows on. However there are people there working full-time (and they are hardly lording it either in terms of salary) to maintain this large, popular base in the centre of the community.

I realised when I posted this that its likely to have little sympathy from most people that read this site. And that's fine by me - I could hardly be good friends with our mephistophelian friend if I wasn't capable of accomodating ideas slightly outside the collectivist nazicommie gamut. I even believe that in some instances the amount spent on the arts can be criminal. I think one of my fundamental reasons for still posting here was that I think it is a crying shame that it is THIS place that should suffer - a small, hardworking centre for the arts run on a shoestring budget and embedded in the local community that nonetheless provides a great service, good art and a decent pint/conversation.

Anonymous said...

If it does all these things, then those things should be dis-aggregated and considered as separate entities. There's no reason for any money to be spent outside the cost-benefit analysis for that thing. £100,000 does sound like a small amount for an organisation that does all that. If it closes down, then it seems clear that there is more than the missing 100k at work. If it survives, then it is clear that the money is better spent on waste disposal or some such. Perhaps a 35p tax break for every resident.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though you're in the midst of what would be an "eminent domain" case here in the U.S. {Eminent domain. The right of a government or municipal quasi-public body to acquire private property for public use. It is acquired through a court action called condemnation in which the court determines the use is a public use and decides the price or compensation to be paid to the owner.
Source:
http://www.officefinder.com/glossary.html#E

Not being conversant in U.K. law re: appropriation of private property, I am nevertheless sympathetic to those for whom the BAC is an affordable place to go for entertainment .................

Anonymous said...

Andrew:

You still haven't explained how it is possible for the BAC to simulatneously need a couple of hundred grand of state subsidy in order to provide culture for the poor and starving of this parish, and provide 2 million quid's worth of bonus income for the area's businesses.

If the patrons, as a group, can afford 2 million quid on dinner and drinks, they can afford to pay 10% of that amount to the BAC, so no state subsidy is required.

Alternatively, the 2 million quid figure is fiction, and the economic gain argument is a lie.

Which is it?

Karswell said...

Andrew,

This £2m to local bars etc. If the bars are making so much money out of BAC, they should cough up the cash. Why should taxpayers effectively subsidise bars. Now I don't mind taxpayers subsidising my local, that would be fine. But why is that taxpayers mostly seem to end up subsidising the articulate urban elites who come up with a load of fancy arguments as to why their leisure activities should get free money.

Anonymous said...

PJ for PM (and FTW!)

When I read the Tooting Popular Front comment I laughed continuously for 3 minutes! (admittedly I have had a drink or two) but rock on!

Damn Lefties! Wonder how DK/CM will play this when he gets back

queenspanky said...

I live just down the road and a) love my Tory council, as I have very low council tax and b) think the BAC is a bit shit. A few years ago maybe they could have applied for an arts loan/fund, but Labour appears to have done away with that the minute they lumped arts in with sport and became football mad. Can we not fundraise for the BAC among the wealthy inhabitants of Wandsworth and other arts loving people instead of demanding the council cough up?

Quite frankly, I'd rather keep my council tax low than pay for the BAC to be down my road. Corporate whore and all that. Plus they fired my mate.