Hmm, OK, and?

The National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House are facing financial collapse because of the pandemic and are jointly calling upon the government to throw out a lifeline.

“It is really serious now,” said Greg Doran, the artistic director of the RSC. “And if we lose our performance culture, we lose it for good.” The leaders of the theatres also warn that while they struggle to stay afloat, the whole performing arts sector is in “huge jeopardy”, and that without swift action there will be little left for audiences to see across the country when restrictions are lifted.

If this was a profitable sector laid low by he emergency then we would have one answer – temporary support until the end of the emergency perhaps. As it’s a chronically loss making sector, never does make a profit, then why bother?

44 thoughts on “Hmm, OK, and?”

  1. Be a chuckle if the arts have to return cap in hand to the likes British Petroleum, the dastardly capitalists they so recently spurned. Seemingly even the BBC has decided there’s little future in ‘culture’. Perhaps David Attenborough could help them out?

  2. Yes, it is vitally important that the government bail an organisation like the National Theatre, so that it can keep on churning out shit plays criticising the Tory Party, Capitalism and British culture.

    Then again, let’s not. We can then knock down the atrocious building and replace it with something both useful and not a vile, concrete eyesore.

  3. Thinking what a wily politico would do to minimise the fallout of cutting the arts off. Possibly hand over to the national lottery to fund.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    If the government is rugby, football and cricket clubs, amongst any number of working class sports and activities, it’s going to have a hard time explaining and justifying the elite and rich get (another) bail out at tax payers’ expense.

  5. “It is really serious now,” said Greg Doran, the artistic director of the RSC. “And if we lose our performance culture, we lose it for good.”

    I admire much of Doran’s work, but this statement is simply false: a ‘performance culture’ is a temporary thing anyway and it can be re-created.

    With the government handing out free money, every arts organisation in the land is bleating for more cash. Even the National Trust is trying it on…

  6. There is a considerable demand for Shakespeare and Opera, and it is not expensive. Glyndbourne started after the war, as a cheap way for people to enjoy music, and is still loved to this day. Shakespeare was ignored ,we tend to forget,for 150 years after his death. Entrepreneurial actor impresarios, like David Garrick, unlocked the money pot, without grants.
    I believe middle-brow culture can pay its way just fine, nonetheless, there is good case for the Nation providing spiritual resources the private sector will not, on a consistent basis, just as we preserve the National Parks, the market would turn into car parks.I struggle to see why we have state celebrity dancing competitions and pop music radio…
    I don`t want a country,I already feel unwelcome in,reduced to a rotting backwater where fat white morons read lies in shitty tabloids and are placated with soft porn and sugar. You do. Thats it is a NS
    Speaking of fat …better get off on my bike …30 miles planned

  7. Newmania “I don`t want a country,I already feel unwelcome in”.
    That comment says more about you than you’ll ever comprehend.

  8. If I were to place myself in a pub, a restaurant, a theatre, a cinema – hey, a country, even – and relentlessly criticise it, belittle it and generally whine about it, then it would be no surprise they fail to launder the welcome mat.

    As the Bish says to me often: “You get out what you put in”.

  9. I’m such a bumpkin, I don’t even know what a ‘performance culture’ is, nor would I know if it had been lost.

    O’Sullivans Law has acted forever on the British performing arts. Theophrastus is correct. It’s time to start fresh.

  10. “There is a considerable demand for Shakespeare and Opera, and it is not expensive. Glyndbourne started after the war, as a cheap way for people to enjoy music, and is still loved to this day.”

    If there’s considerable demand, and it is not expensive, why does the RSC get £15m/annum from the Arts Council?

  11. If you hate it here Facepaint–fuck off to join your precious EU pals. A cupboard in Molenbeek awaits you.

    I’d much rather you were publicly hanged as the traitor you are –but rid of you is rid of you.

  12. Glyndbourne started after the war, as a cheap way for people to enjoy music, and is still loved to this day.

    It’s a while since I visited Glyndbourne, but I do not remember it being cheap. As I recall, the ROH doesn’t offer stalls seats to the low-waged for £20. For that you get to appreciate the opera standing at the back behind a pillar. I also seem to remember Travelex being the main provider of discount tickets for the National Theatre.

    The best thing the state can do for the theatres is allow them to reopen.

  13. If there’s one London theatre that I wouldn’t mind too much if it got a taxpayer subsidy it would be the Globe.

    Otherwise only out-of-London theatres should even be considered.

    Mind you if I were in charge I’d probably reject all applications.

    Rich luvvies can subsidise the theatres. Let’s hear it from you, Dame this, Dame that, and Sir the other.

  14. “There is a considerable demand for Shakespeare and Opera, and it is not expensive.”

    It wouldn’t be. It’s subsidised. It says so on the begging bowl. There might not be considerable demand at prices would reflect the cost of the product. I say “might” because I wouldn’t exclude it’s just the opera & Shakespeare going classes ensuring other people contribute towards their pleasures. There being considerable overlap with those entrusted to disseminate taxpayers’ money.

    Somewhat confirmed by: ” there is good case for the Nation providing spiritual resources the private sector will not, on a consistent basis, just as we preserve the National Parks, the market would turn into car parks.”
    The carparks would exist for a reason, no? Could it be that ” fat white morons read lies in shitty tabloids and are placated with soft porn and sugar” are not good enough to participate viewing spiritual resources? They should be preserved for our betters with smaller, well appointed car parks provided at taxpayers’expense for their benefit.

  15. Incidentally, I do harbour a certain distaste for the insurance industry, targeting the EU market or not. It may be an unavoidable necessity but it’s only gambling against certain specified events. It just lacks the honesty of other forms of gambling. Gamblers in other forms don’t go to such lengths to welsh on their wagers in the event of losing.

  16. Britain does do very well financially out of “cultural exports”, before one tries to estimate any putative value to the soft power it brings. What I have no idea about is the extent to which the non-commercial, subsidised part of the cultural sector is a necessary long-term ingredient for that wider success – a training ground, safe to innovate and experiment, as a place that inspires the next generation to get into the arts and so on, as its proponents would claim. Or whether it’s actually just hanging on to the coat tails of the more successful parts of the industry, without substantially feeding in to it.

    The commercially oriented world of pop, rock, electronic and urban music has certainly shown extraordinary power to innovate over the last 60 years, whether any of its to your taste or not every decade or so seems to bring about a distinctive set of new sounds, and the pipeline of new performers seems never-ending. This has all been brought about with minimal public subsidy – not zero, there are a couple of performing arts schools, for example. Classical music seems remarkably staid by comparison, is that subsidy essentially a cultural conservation exercise? Similarly British authors and screenwriters often sell well overseas (and many have had a creative arts or humanities education largely at public expense) but much of modern theatre writing only works on the back of a myriad of grants and subsidised venues. If they had to have more of an eye on what the public were willing to pay for, would they create better products?

  17. “Glynd(e)bourne started after the war, as a cheap way for people to enjoy music, and is still loved to this day.”

    It is not cheap and was started in 1934, not after the war. I stopped reading after that.

  18. Newmania: “Speaking of fat …better get off on my bike …30 miles planned”.

    Besides that it doesn’t surprise me at all you’re one of the spandex moron squad.. I do realise the UK hasn’t got as much of a bicycle culture as the Netherlands, but 30 miles is something a fair percentage of highschoolers here does in a day, On a bog-standard bike, in whatever-is-fashionable-with-that-lot, with a backpack full of books ‘n stuff.. Or a short leg (suited for furriners) for a bicycle tour- holiday. Again, with all the camping gear attached to the bikes/riders..
    So yeah… 30 miles… *chortle*..

    And what the hell is “middle-brow culture”, other than another one of your condescending little innuendos?

  19. Oh alright it ‘restarted’ after the war ( during which it was used for evacuees ), but it is very reasonable as, indeed, are the Proms which I used to go to for £10 to £15 to see epic performances. It has certainly cost me a great deal more occasionally watching Arsenal, and I have have only rarely managed to get into a competitive game of international rugby at all.

  20. The UK hasn’t got as much of a bicycle culture as the Netherlands

    Yeah yeah thats why Brits have wont the Tour De France 2012 2013 20015 2017 2018 and bagged 32 golds to your pathetic 18 at the last Olympics.30 miles on a pancake flat reclaimed bog wouldnt` kill me now actually maybe thats why you are so bad at it.

    Looo ooo oo oooo ooo seeeeeeerrrrr

  21. I’m not sure that’s quite how the eternal and unbowed European fraternal spirit of goodwill and reconciliation is supposed to work, Newmie?

  22. bloke in spain,

    “It wouldn’t be. It’s subsidised. It says so on the begging bowl. There might not be considerable demand at prices would reflect the cost of the product. I say “might” because I wouldn’t exclude it’s just the opera & Shakespeare going classes ensuring other people contribute towards their pleasures. There being considerable overlap with those entrusted to disseminate taxpayers’ money.”

    There really isn’t a problem with the poors affording opera. Opera is fairly cheap if you go to a regional company and get a seat in the balcony. Cheaper than musicals, gigs, not much more than an IMAX cinema seat. And the people that go are overwhelmingly middle class in attire and accents.

    The other thing is that when you throw a subsidy at an opera company, they waste a lot of it. They don’t go looking for savings. Private opera is proper Little Platoons stuff. Find a country house owner who likes opera, erect a marquee, get volunteers to help out with a lot of the work (in exchange for dress rehearsal tickets), use off-the-shelf web stuff rather than some super fancy branding company.

  23. Cycling in the Netherlands is an absolute doddle. Then you turn round to go back and, bugger me!, you now have to cycle into the wind. Different world, that.

  24. MBE,

    “Britain does do very well financially out of “cultural exports”, before one tries to estimate any putative value to the soft power it brings. What I have no idea about is the extent to which the non-commercial, subsidised part of the cultural sector is a necessary long-term ingredient for that wider success – a training ground, safe to innovate and experiment, as a place that inspires the next generation to get into the arts and so on, as its proponents would claim. Or whether it’s actually just hanging on to the coat tails of the more successful parts of the industry, without substantially feeding in to it.”

    There’s all sorts of problems with that. They always include things software in those numbers, and I’m sorry, but Sage Accounts doesn’t count as a cultural export. They also include all the arts that pretty much stand on their own two feet, like musicals.

    With regards to training grounds, most filmmakers and screenwriters are inspired by film now. Most of the best filmmakers come from shooting low budget movies or working in advertising. US theatre doesn’t get subsidies, but it didn’t stop them producing John Lithgow or Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  25. “European fraternal spirit of goodwill and reconciliation”

    “To be a gentleman, you have to be able to afford to be a gentleman.” – GC

    It’s hard to play nice when you are under siege. Greece, Italy, France, and Spain are not in position be be nice.

  26. Rent seeking scum, seek rent.

    Fuck em. Why should people pay for stuff they do not want or care for?

  27. “When I had a quick look at it, turns out that federal, state and municipal funding goes into US theatres… though I haven’t attempted any comparative calculation with the UK.”

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the NEA.

  28. @Newmania

    “better get off on my bike”

    I’m sure you will. Has it got a seat perchance, this imaginary bike you so love.

    Hell’s teeth troll, you do make it so easy.

  29. Gov’t DCMS should be abolised along with all state subsidies to “the arts”. Plenty of private theathers in East End and rest UK are (were) proftable by hosting what public want to pay to watch

    TNT, RSC & ROH should balance their books by hosting sufficient good to cover losses of crap few willing to pay for

    Now, like 2010 (when Osborne chickened) is a great opportunity to have a mass cull throughout public sector – not only budget cuts, but real single out and end non-jobs, depts, orgs, ‘charities’

    Charities: is Batwangoolie in jail yet?

    @dearieme

    Rich luvvies can subsidise the theatres. Let’s hear it from you, Dame this, Dame that, and Sir the other

    +1 and multi-millionaire BBC darling Steve Coogan who furloughed his full-time gardener & housekeeper; plus the staff in his ‘business’
    – Coogan: who wants a free holiday paid for by taxpayers?

  30. Pcar,

    “Gov’t DCMS should be abolised along with all state subsidies to “the arts”. Plenty of private theathers in East End and rest UK are (were) proftable by hosting what public want to pay to watch

    TNT, RSC & ROH should balance their books by hosting sufficient good to cover losses of crap few willing to pay for”

    Also, they might actually come up with some good plays.

    If you look at the history of subsidised cinema, in the 20th century, it’s a disaster. Nearly all the best films, from German expressionism to Hitchcock to Billy Wilder to Spielberg, Woody Allen and Scorsese were produced with private money. The great films of the French new wave were all private money. France now makes a ton of films about middle class Parisian naval gazing with public money that no-one cares about. How many great films were produced under communism? There’s those Bondarchuk films like War and Peace, Tarkovsky’s pretty great, and that’s about it.

  31. MrsBud and I were supposed to be seeing A Winter’s Tale last Wednesday in Stratford as part of our abandoned UK visit. They did ask us if we’d donate the cost of our tickets, but we requested a refund.

    Incidentally, the only people not to give us a full refund or full value credit note were Sykes Cottages, they said they were not offering credit notes (which we’d have been happy with) and kept the full deposit for our week in West Bay, we won’t be using them again.

  32. @ Newmania
    Surely you mean Aldeburgh – not Glyndebourne. I could afford to go to Aldeburgh when I was young and did. In theory I could have afforded to go to Glyndebourne when I was middle-aged but I could not justify the ridiculous expense: I’ld rather give the money away to something worthwhile.

  33. @ Grikath
    If it wasn’t for lockdown I should be *walking* 30 miles in a day (actually before breakfast because doing so after breakfast would render me subject to the Robbie Brightwell syndrome but saying “xxx before breakfast” makes one sound like the Red Queen or a fitness fanatic).

  34. dearieme said:
    “If there’s one London theatre that I wouldn’t mind too much if it got a taxpayer subsidy it would be the Globe.”

    The Globe was brilliant to start with, and did some superb things under Mark Rylance (not always successful, but always worth watching). After he left it got a bit dull. Then they had a woman director who was a bloody disaster (she ditched the historical authenticity, which was a large part of the point of the Globe) and it started disappearing up its own arse. The Much Ado About Nothing set in some sort of South American revolution was particularly grim. Fortunately she didn’t last long.

    The new woman in charge seems OK; mostly not spectacular but not dreadful. I’ve seen a very atmospheric Macbeth in the indoor theatre, and a rather good abridged Romeo & Juliet last summer that was very funny (not something I expect from R&J, but I suppose the basic plot is rather farcical).

    But I’d be against government subsidies for it; I expect it would encourage the crappier elements.

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