Thursday, August 30, 2007

Orchestrating subsidies

KatesHome notices something rather extraordinary.
It costs less to go to see the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican than it does to go to the cinema.

£6, to be precise.

And that's not a term-limited special offer. It's only not available on a ridiculously small number of tickets. It's for every concert, and plentiful seats.

Of course, the big difference between cinemas and the London Symphony Orchestra is that the latter is massively and lavishly subsidised with taxpayers' cash—to the tune of £2.2 million this year—whilst cinemas are not.

So, whilst I have absolutely stuff-all interest in going to see the London Symphony Orchestra, I am still forced to pay for it and do so to the point where those who do want to see the LSO pay less for their entertainment than I do for mine.

Truly, this is a wonderful world...

UPDATE: The Barbican itself, of course, is heavily subsidised—although I cannot find an up-to-date financial report at present—and sure enough, the Arts Council England pops up on the Barbican's list of sponsors too.

I cannot understand about the Corporation of London: is it a private body or a public one? Either way, in 2003/04 it supported the Barbican to the tune of over £20 million [PDF] (not including £8.9 million capital costs).


Mark Wadsworth said...

Don't forget £500m tax breaks for film production (or "Labour luvvies" to be precise), enough to pay for three or four cinema tickets for every household per year.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I'm not sure what you are trying to say with this one, Mr Devil.

Are you saying that generally we shouldn't subsidize the arts, or am I being dense?

Arts subsidies in this country are smaller than the sexually transmitted ticks in my armpits. - Theatre funding from public sources is running at just under £100 million, for example. I am not a mathematician or someone who can be sure that he spells "mathamatician" correctly, but if you compare that with the £6 Billion we are spending on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the costs of lots of worthy goodwill projects to rebuild the infrastructure for people who hate the cockles of our hearts, it seems to me to be well worth it. Not only that, the majority of theatre funding is private sector these days anyway.

An extra £25 million allocated to theatres this year excluding the RSC and the National represented, according to govt. figures, an increase of 72%, which rather suggests to me that this amount barely subsidizes the little wooden spoons in the little fake bottomed ice-cream tubs that you buy in the dark of the matinee.

Trying to stay on topic, some cinemas also benefit. I guess there is an argument for making sure that quality films get made, and, more importantly seen, now that the digital cinema network is being rolled out.

This may just be propaganda but according to the same document


"The UKFC Premiere Fund supports the development of
projects through to marketing and distribution, in the
production of feature films that can attract audiences
the world over.The annual budget for the Premiere Fund
is £8 million. Up until the end of 2006, the Fund had
invested in 39 feature films at a value of £48.7 million.
Return on investment in terms of recoupment back to
the UK Film Council is running at over 50 percent
(£24.4 million).The films have been seen by over
13.6 million people in the UK; a box office take of
£60.4 million in the UK and world-wide $348 million"

So actually, I challenge your assertion that cinemas are not subsidized.

Like most people, my introduction to Shakespeare, as it should be done, was the RSC. I was able to see to fabulous productions because of public funding, which in turn enriched my life. Very much so. I even saw Alan Titchmarsh in the audience of "Troilus and Cressida" when it played at the Swan some years ago, and you don't get that happening very often.

I don't get angry about arts funding much. I get angry about war funding and EU funding. I get angry about the cost of government and that the cost of maintaining the Deputy Prime-Ministership during Prescott's tenure probably exceeded the amount given to the LSO.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Cinemas are NOT subsidised, Labour luvvies in the film industry are subsidised.

Anonymous said...

Would you like to come to a concert with me, DK? :-)

Robert said...

@ Wrinkled Weasel

I doubt very much your argument will wash with DK. Since Libertarians tend to beleive that the primary function of the state is to protect its citizens, defence spending is a whole different ball-game and not comparable.

I would be more inclined to the argument which states that Arts funding is actually an investment in Britain's cultural capital. The thing that keeps the UK as one of the most influential countries on the planet is not just Trident, but the cultural influence it has on the rest of the world. Shakespeare and the RSC is a good example of this.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Robert - I think that if I am anything I am a libertarian too, but a confused one.

I was being ironic about Alan Titchmarsh, but probably not with enough skill.(not that you mentioned it)

I agree very much that we should have a strong defense and I am happy to support our armed services. My view on Iraq and Afg..whatsit is that the whole venture was a bit of adventurism and vanity on behalf of one Tony Bliar, and therefore I am pissed off about paying for it.

Our culture informs our society, but it also enriches it. The Devil is a thesp, I believe, and he knows this, but I don't put words in the Devil's mouth because there are enough of those already, most of them very rude.

I believe in centres of excellence and I believe in a classical education and an education for no particularly practical reason. In other words I do not see people merely as economic units and the Arts is an example of a mature culture.

Orchestras are an entity, not just a performing machine. They lay down recordings of great musical works and create benchmarks.

I am heading for pseuds corner now so shall stop before I get the piss taken out of me.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...