According to senior figure in the arts world the UK’s culture sector is too focussed on the nation’s capital.
Talking to the Independent Colin Tweedy, the vice-president of Arts & Business, said that the arts sector is ‘London-centric’ and caters too much to a ‘middle class elite’ so he is calling for a ‘radical’ re-think of how and where the money is spent.
He said to the Independent that “81 per cent of all private philanthropy is in the capital. Most – around 75 per cent – goes to just 25 institutions … But [across] the rest of the UK … the balance is not there. The focus is on what I would call a middle-class elite. We are failing – profoundly, if we're not careful – to engage the majority of the British population.”
The independent puts the spending on the arts per head in the capital at Â£62.50p compared to the rest of the country which gets only Â£3.60p.
Mr Tweedy is of course right. But before we start redistributing the money we might need to ask the question of what ‘art’ and ‘culture’ are in the modern world. Is it just works produced by the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House as well as stuff on show in museums and art galleries? Or should it encompass spending on such things as art and music classes for the masses (even if they don’t want them)?
Or, if art is only being seen by those in London who are interested in it then maybe they should be the ones to pay.
To extend the sort of service that London currently receives out into the regions would be hideously expensive. And to spread the same amount of money across the country would make it unworkably thin.
But this is not a new question. The comedy series Yes Prime Minister (now there’s an insight that is as relevant today as when it was written) had a look at it way back in ‘The Patron of the Arts’ (clip below).