Looking forward to transparency in arts funding
The Department of Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS) has published its business plan, introduced with great optimism by the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt:
Jeremy Hunt, October 2010
"This sets out how we will, over the next four years, boost economic growth, equip the country for future success and transform the way we deliver culture, media, sport and tourism".
Unsurprisingly it is simply a summation of what the coalition government has said and done since it came to power in May. The summary page contains, however, a couple of ambiguous lines that could do with a bit of clarification.
What, I asked, does that mean? The sector appears perfectly happy with its current business model consisting of varying degrees of state funding, philanthropy and commercial enterprise. It is a model that has worked for years and delivered an extremely successful arts sector, so where is the unsustainability?
I was told it meant that the ministers don't want the sector to be so vulnerable to large-scale government cuts, should they occur again in future. Ah, so does that mean weaning the arts off public subsidy? Apparently not: the subsidy is secure.
The other phrase that caught my eye described the government as:
Really? Does that mean that in future arts institutions will be able to borrow money from a bank when they next want to buy a painting or build an extension? No, it doesn't. It means that they can carry on their commercial activity just as they have in the past, but with less regulatory burden on when and how they spend it.
The report also states the department's determination to be transparent about its activities - I look forward to it!