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Arts funding in England is a thin gruel that organisations are forced to beg for

Arts funding in England is a thin gruel that organisations are forced to beg for

Ah yes, begging for funding, an industry in itself. Doesn’t just apply to arts organisations; any divested, contracted service has to do this for ever decreasing sums of money.

This doesn’t just apply to the arts: any divested service has to beg just to maintain its existing funding, framing what it does in terms of what it thinks its funders want, rather than what its users need.

Do you remember “eat out to help out” – Rishi Sunak’s wheeze (let’s not dignify it with the word policy) that subsidised restaurant meals during the pandemic? It cost £849m for one month – that’s one single month of populist, back-of-the-envelope, unscrutinised public spending. What a grotesque contrast to the painful, toiled-over, self-justifying applications that arts organisations have to turn in before they get their bowl of thin gruel, in the form of ebbing funds that they’ve taught themselves never to complain about in case it makes them look like whingeing luvvies.

And of course, there’s always money for some business wheeze or other.

By Charlotte Higgins. Originally published 02/09/22.

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