Arts bludger comes clean

UK arts bludger Mark Ravenhill comes clean on excesses of arts subsidies. His observations apply just as easily to the culture scene in New Zealand, especially under Helen Clark.

One of Britain’s leading playwrights has said funding cuts could be “a good thing” for the arts because artists would be less “safe and well behaved”.

Mark Ravenhill said he was against cuts but that the performing arts had been compromised by a “cosy” relationship with funders over the past 15 years.

He said artists “weren’t telling the truth” about the world often enough when public funding was more plentiful. 

Lying bludgers in other words.

 “Didn’t the arts become safe and well behaved during the New Labour years? I think they did.

“I think they weren’t telling the truth – the dirty, dangerous, hilarious, upsetting, disruptive, noisy, beautiful truth – as often as they should have done.

“Why? Because most artists are decent, liberal, if only everyone were nicer to each other and let’s heal it with a hug sort of folk and so voted New Labour.”

When Labour came to power in 1997, there was “for a few years a modest but real terms increase in government funding for the arts”, he said.

“And we artists were so grateful for that relatively modest bit of attention and money that we changed substantially what and who we were as artists.”

He said the arts world “went astray” in the 1990s and become distracted by a focus on urban renewal, corporate sponsorship and social inclusion, rather than reflecting the real world.

And then the words that would set Brian Rudman’s heart on fire.

“Maybe the artist free of any relationship with any public funding body is freest of all?

Yeah, how about you all stop your bludging and set yourselves free.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

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