Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Culture cuts

Although the orthodoxy has been that cuts in arts budgets are bad, for obvious reasons, there is also a strand of opinion that the new age of austerity offers opportunities as well as threats. A good example of this imaginative thinking is playwright Fin Kennedy, who in a Guardian article says, “I have a theory that, as the theatre industry contracts, more and more artists – in particular playwrights – will find a welcome reception in schools.” In fact, for a number of years now, playwrights and other theatre-makers have been finding sources of funding outside the traditional system of Arts Council grants or theatre commissions. Some, like Kennedy, have successfully embedded themselves in the education sector; others have drawn on funds from the health budget or community sources or from other institutions. But there is still room for more of this lateral thinking: after all, a resident playwright could fulfill a similar function to that of a resident poet, and don’t big corporations have plenty of those? The most delicious irony of all would be to become a resident playwright in a major bank.

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