Making a song and dance over budget cuts

IT was possibly inevitable that the Government would chose to divert funding from the arts to pay for the London Olympics. People in the arts have had a long struggle to convince others of the credibility and importance of culture. However this doesn t ma

IT was possibly inevitable that the Government would chose to divert funding from the arts to pay for the London Olympics.

People in the arts have had a long struggle to convince others of the credibility and importance of culture.

However this doesn't make it any less disappointing that £100m of lottery funding will be taken away from the arts to go to the Olympics, and a further £90m from heritage spending.

One of the things that concerns me about this is I'm not entirely comfortable with the way that the arts and sports have been pitted as being so diametrically opposed.


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Granted, you'd have difficulty arguing that a poetry reading has anything to do with sport.

But I'm a keen dancer and I defy any sport fans out there to come along to my hour-long streetdance class and tell me it's not as good a form of exercise as synchronised swimming or a session of archery (both Olympic sports).

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And yet, with the exception of gymnastics - which I would class as only loosely related to dance - it remains categorised as a form of the arts and is excluded from the Olympics.

(I'm currently considering starting a campaign to remedy this, much to the annoyance of The Comet's sports editor).

My point is that to go all gung-ho on sport and exclude the arts rather works on the assumption that the two have nothing in common, when actually sometimes an activity can fall into both categories.

And for those elements of the arts which bear no relation to sport, I still don't understand why they should suffer just because we want to get all show-offy and hold the Olympics.

Arts have a valuable part to play in our society as a form of self-expression and a way of understanding the world we find ourselves in.

They can also be huge amounts of fun. Anyone who has ever seen the enjoyment of children going to the panto for the first time would surely not dispute that the arts can bring people a lot of pleasure.

I would not for one second claim that panto is high art but when I go to one it always seems to me a very simple example of how, even for small children, live theatre can give you a real buzz.

It's sometimes quite difficult to defend the arts when people make things out of cow dung or dead sheep and call it art, but my view is that, to be slightly pretentious myself and paraphrase Voltaire, I might not like what they're doing but I would defend to the death their right to do so.

Part of London's Olympic bid was centred on the city's cultural attractions.

Whatever you think of the Olympics, it will mean a possibly unprecedented number of visitors to our capital.

It would be a shame if when they got here, all the wonderful cultural aspects of our country had dwindled away to nothing because someone out there couldn't budget for the Olympic Games properly.

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