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Save the Arts

It has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world.

We the undersigned appeal to the government not to slash arts funding and risk destroying this long-term achievement and the social and economic benefits it brings to all.

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  1. An important message or a video that's patronising beyond belief? I work in the arts, but I'm tending towards the latter I'm afraid.

    "Jokers in charge of banks"... the ones who arts companies desperately want sponsorship from?

    "[the arts] delight us, transport us, surprise us" - I have a real problem with this. The arts do this for some people, yes, but they don't do it for everyone, and presuming to talk in that collective first person tone is only going to alienate people for whom that statement simply isn't true (yet). David Shrigley does not speak for me, and I do like the arts - what about those millions who have no interest?

    Moving on...

    Having a go at Big Brother, etc, is not only extremely obvious, but about 10 years out of date and, once again, likely to help polarise opinions of the arts and make them seem more elitist, sneering and exclusionary.

    The piece saves its best arguments (economic, employment and tourism benefits of the arts) till near the end, but by then many will have turned off. I would have if I didn't have an obvious personal interest in the subject and if I hadn't been so annoyed by the opening 2 minutes that I wanted to critique it.

    Then it ruins it again with another lazy and obvious jibe at football - there's as much high quality football out there as high quality art and as much self indulgent, poorly thought out pish in the arts as badly organised or boring football teams. But it's an easy and obvious target for a cheap jibe. The sort that is likely (again) to appeal to arts snobs, mean nothing to many and piss off everyone else.

    The principle behind this message is spot on IMO - the arts ARE valuable to this country and its people. This method of spreading the message however is short sighted and unlikely to preach to anyone but the converted. Disappointing.

  2. I have to agree with the above. You can't win an argument, where the aim is to win widespread public support, by taking the piss out of large sections of society. A real miss this one.

  3. Love the Arrested Development reference Bob :-)

  4. Brilliant. I love David Shrigley :)

  5. The arts "allow" us to look at ourselves do they?....thats very kind of it :)

    Sorry lovelies, I have to agree with the comments at the top about missing the point with an out of date argument.

    The "Arts", as such, wont die if money is taken out of it....just like football wouldnt if you took the money out of that... would change. Thats all.

    There is very little state support for "The Arts" in the USA, and yet they still seem to thrive there....look at what is happening in Detroit for instance?

    "The Arts" could do well to become more entrepreneurial and understand the real audience it music does, without any huge national subsidy....or not...its our choice :)

    There is no money, its a sad, but unavoidable fact...a petition wont change that (the situation is far too serious economically)...change is inevitable...but not necessarily fatal...luckily :)

  6. I agree with Michael and Bob Lob Law.
    The arts are obviously important and vital in the UK - but taking the piss out of large sections of society and being patronising to Twilight fans/football/Big Brother fans isn't vital in promoting your campaign.

  7. The other problem with this is how nationalistic it is -- the arts aren't just there for the UK, but internationally. I'm in the US and against spending cuts in the UK arts, but not because the arts somehow redeem Britain's loss of its empire ("one of the few things we can be proud of"). And the notion of the arts as economic engine, and a tool of urban regeneration, is also deeply problematic. Altogether the tone is resigned, valedictory, and grumbling: instead it should perhaps be about the achievements of the arts -- as art -- rather than as Blairite program for social renewal. That would be harder, of course. Still, both the film and the wording of the petition are troubling as they stand.

  8. There once lived a cobbler who made and sold shoes, a baker who made and sold bread, a tailor who made and sold clothes, an armourer who made and sold guns, a builder who built and sold houses, an artist who painted pretty pictures and a chief who passed and enforced laws. The chief had been elected by the others to represent their interests as a collective.
    The cobbler, the baker, tailor, the armourer and the builder bought and sold goods from and to each other and gave a little bit of the money they had saved to the chief who, as legislator, judiciary and executive, was too busy passing and enforcing laws to make or sell anything himself.
    If they had any money left over, they might buy pictures from the artist. But they didn’t always do so. Sometimes they wanted to save more. At other times they didn’t like the pictures.
    The artist was unhappy. He felt that they should have to buy his pictures even though they could neither eat nor wear nor shelter under them so he went to complain. The chief listened and, as times were good, he agreed to take a little bit more money every year from the cobbler, the baker, the tailor, the armourer and the builder and give it to the artist. The artist was happy because he could carry on painting pictures that nobody wanted to buy at the price that he wanted to sell them at and the cobbler, the baker, the tailor, the armourer and the builder weren’t too unhappy because, after all, times were good, and they were rather nice people.
    And then, one year, times were less good. So the cobbler, the baker, tailor, the armourer and the builder paid less money to the chief who, perversely enough, needed even more money than previously. So the chief took out a gun that he had bought from the armourer (in fact, he bought all of the armourer’s guns but that’s a different story) and held it to the head of the cobbler and said, “Give me more money. I need it to give to the artist.”
    “This is daylight robbery,” said the cobbler.
    “It’s called a tax,” said the chief and then went on to the baker and did the same.
    “This is not what we elected you for,” said the baker as he handed more money over.
    “It’s called funding the arts. I have unilaterally decided that doing this is in your best interest,” explained the chief and moved the gun to the tailor’s head.
    “But I don’t even like pictures,” remonstrated the tailor, “they mean nothing to me – why should I have to pay more tax?”
    “Because other people like looking at the artist’s pictures,” answered the chief and, pocketing the tailor’s tax, pointed the gun at the armourer.
    “Well, I like looking at pictures,” said the armourer, “and I’m quite happy to buy them if I like them and think they’re any good but this artist’s pictures… well, I either don’t particularly like them. It’s most unfair that some of my money is going to end up with him anyway.”
    The chief went to the builder and, a little less certain of himself, mumbled, “Give me some more money for the artist, please.”
    “Is this wise?” asked the builder. “Times are hard. Much as I like pictures, we all need new shoes, clothes and homes more than we need pictures. Isn’t it best to let people decide how to spend their money rather than to decide for them?”
    The chief thought about this and said, “You’re right. I will stop taking money from you to give to the artist. But for every picture you buy from him, I will give you a little of your money back.” He then announced to everybody, “I am going to reduce the funding to the arts.”
    The artist protested but the cobbler, the baker, the tailor, the armourer and the builder had more money with which to buy goods from each other and to invest in their own businesses as a consequence of which times improved and as a result of which the armourer and the builder had more money to spend on pictures that they liked. The artist, no longer subsidised to paint pictures no-one wanted, improved the quality of his pictures and consequently sold more of them than he ever had before.

  9. Sorry guys, but you've got to put the link to the petition in a more obvious place. It's a right arse to find and if you want people to sign then you might as well help them out a bit.

    I've signed now. Hurrah. I can relax.

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  11. If you are expecting this Government to be more lenient on the Arts funding, then give up now. Everybody knows that appealing to a Tory's better judgement is like hitting your head against a brick wall, though the Tory is more dense. Just look at the Thatcher years, for example, how many plea's for leniency were heeded. It took riots to change the name of the Poll Tax, that was a stupid name that went back to feudal times and related to an eronious tax, for whatever reason, to fill the kings coffers, hence Magna Carta. Just shows how conceted the Tory mindset is, then what can you expect from a party that had it's leaders, until recently, chosen by the ruling monarch. No, if you want to make anti-establishment films then look to V for Vendetta, another product of the Thatcher years. Don't expect a Tory to have anything but granite where the heart should be.

  12. I totally agree with the earlier comments - the animation is in no way a good example of or argument for what we are trying to protect. Many of the well known artists who have signed the petition are very wealthy from mediocre output - arts funding won't effect them in a way that is worth fighting for against other cuts at present, so in effect I agree with the story of the baker and the cobbler etc above. BUT what is so precious, important, democratic and worth fighting for is arts funding that is not about this painting or that high profile exhibition but that funds the arts that address and contribute to the big problems in our society such as isolation, illness, ageing, drug abuse, community cohesion, loss of identity etc etc. Art of high quality that really works and operates in these realms alongside education, healthcare etc at the grass roots, this does really need to be defended, supported, funded and understood. This is a social responsibility, the rest can earn itself a living if it is good enough. For this I will sign the petition.

  13. "It has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world."

    Really? The arts didn't exist before 1960? Who'd have thought it.

  14. Funding is not necessary for art. Cavemen didn't refuse to paint their caves because there wasn't an Arts Council to give them a grant. Everything in the animation is about saving the arts *industry*, not the arts themselves. If funding stopped today people wouldn't put down their paint brushes, guitars and word processors.

    If you believe that the government should be saving what is essentially an unprofitable and failing industry that can't support itself that's fine. Plenty of people believe that. But don't pretend that sort of intervention is any more worthy than the government propping up the banking system; it's exactly the same thing.

  15. Personally I think there is very little in the way of culture left in this country.People aren't interested in this petition because art certainly doesn't inspire people any more and alienates them instead due to the elitism.

    Art needs to mean something to people now and I think the bit in the animation showing the art gallery with Anthony saying "what is it?" reiterates exactly why the general public chose to ignore the arts rather than support them.
    "It's bloody brilliant, is what it is" is what the art elite think, not the general public.

    We are at a pivotal point in history where the art world needs to change and be more approachable for society to want to support the arts. I think we do need to be saving the arts but it's going to take a lot more than just saving our art funding, we need to change our attitudes too.

  16. It feels like the Shrigley animation is a bit of an opening own goal, why are you endorsing the Arts and poking fun at northerners/farmers/the working class at the same time? It doesn't really sit well or help to support the concept of shared experience and inclusivity in my mind. Why not approach this from a slightly more engaged and genuine point of reference, and show arts activities working to improve the community? Otherwise, don't we run the risk of preaching to the already converted? Less tongues in cheeks and more hands in pockets please. Tracey, Damo, Jake, Dinos, Anish et al, get your cheque books ready and show us how much you mean it. Man.

  17. While the Shrigley video can be seen as a short-sighted and arguably inefficient way of gaining the empathy and support of the nation I would like to contribute to some of the above comments.

    Working within the arts industry as an artist and arts development worker I do want to stress the importance that arts funding has on the community. Funding does not only go to 'line the pockets of the already rich and elitist', it goes towards supporting community arts organisations who provide important and invaluable provision to communities in some of the poorest areas of the UK. I have seen how art in its broadest sense influences and changes peoples lives....even the Twilight, farmer, 'average joe', working class people. And sadly that video seems to patronise with such labels and does not get the right point across.

    Arts organisations will have to change and ARE constantly changing to adapt to the new societies that are ALSO constantly changing and without sufficient funding a huge population of people who need, want and desire the arts in their lives will go without. And that's not acceptable.

    ps Great to see healthy debate taking place!

  18. Where's Banksey in all this? Just curious.

  19. Envy of the world? The arts culture in Britain? Steady on there, not even I, a fully fledged Brit believes that, or can indeed quote that. Before we start making sweeping statements such as, we need to asses what is the Arts exactly, And Banksy can f*** off, he is no exception.

  20. Brunonoble, nice story, and a good moral,(artists abusing funding just to unleash there egotistical, fantastical bullshit on the world is selfish and shouldn't be funded) however, the "Arts" spans wider and i find your argument naive and also offensive to the hundreds of people working hard, solely dedicated to using the Arts as a regenerative tool often in communities badly effected by .depression, and often producing astounding results.

  21. ...and that hard work, dedicated to rebuilding FAITH in communities (that has duly being broken down by government and banks) should be part funded by the state. I do also believe however that artists should be more entrepreneurial... on that note, does anyone want to buy a postcard so we can make a community arts project happen?

  22. Cuts to the Arts shouldn't be seen as fatal, surely it's a question of how to adapt to the climate we're in? To pick up on the entrepreneurial point, if/when/if and when/when and if there's a cut to public subsidy of the Arts, just as there'll be a cut to public subsidy of hospitals, the Police force, the Forces, the libraries, the care centres, the youth community groups, the housing association, you name it, then it's time for the proponents of the Arts to explore a mixture of other ways of funding. People have produced Art based on their experience for generations, all over the world, in times of hardship, war and poverty. We're currently in a recession, it's not the first recession the UK's experienced and neither will it be the last. It's time to galvanise, collaborate and explore a future with a decrease in public funding. You feel angry? Then be angry. It's good for creativity. You want somewhere to aim it? How about the banks? They're already awarding themselves bonuses again, at the same time holding out on loans to new businesses and self-starters.

  23. If the rather stupid and pointless Shrigley cartoon is an example of the arts we are being asked to support, I'd rather not. It is patronising, like much of the rest of the demands for the arts. People are being 'arted at'(!), into the wind. Hardly worth spending money on.

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