Letters from Jeremy Hunt and Brian Winston in the Guardian yesterday:
Our commitment to the arts is rock solid
The Guardian 31 July 2010
Polly Toynbee claims (Comment, 28 July) the government wants to replace public funding of the arts with private. That is simply not the case – I have always argued that private funding should be in addition to, not instead of, public money. Why? Because state funding offers stability over many years which usually philanthropy cannot. It also, with a proper arm’s-length relationship, allows creative risk-taking and artistic freedom that is not always possible with other forms of funding. But the arts, too, should play their part in helping to reduce the deficit.
So we need to protect the arts, which in this country are probably the finest offered anywhere in the world. We also need to explore whether the government can do anything else to help. That’s why I returned the lottery to its original four pillars, which will lead to a significant boost in arts funding. That’s why I am concentrating on removing costs from the parts of my budget that are not frontline. That is also why we are right to explore whether philanthropy can be increased, with the important caveat that this will be more difficult for smaller organisations, especially those outside London. Restoring the nation’s finances is in the interests of all our sectors. We don’t yet know what cuts we will have to make to our budget in the autumn spending review, but this government’s support for the arts remains rock solid. The 2 million people in our creative industries and our reputation as a society that is both civilised and creative demand no less.
Jeremy Hunt MP
Secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport
• As a governor of the British Film Institute at the time of the creation of the UK Film Council, I have to demur from Colin McArthur’s description of the BFI’s support for the UKFC as “treacherous” because the council was “designed to supplant it” (Letters, 29 July). The council was not so designed, but rather it represented a rational plan to focus official support for the film industry. The BFI’s cultural functions were left untouched. OK, I will admit to naivety. The Film Council rapidly became a quango to give quangos a bad name – its chief executive earning more than the director of the Tate. He and its bloated staff have palpably failed to build a self-sustaining film industry. But we were not to know that in 2000. Not all of us at that time despised the BFI “as a ghetto peopled by unworldly intellectuals”. For me it was rather a matter of its patchy record of support for production. McArthur’s touching belief in the “irony” of the BFI surviving the Film Council is probably just as naive as my belief a decade ago that the Film Council was a good idea. The BFI is surely just as threatened by this government’s Kulturkampf as any other cultural organisation.
Professor Brian Winston
University of Lincoln
Letters: Our commitment to the arts is rock solid | Culture | The Guardian