I bet you wish you could get half a million quid in grants because you need a new bathroom, your garden needs doing, you’d like “state of the art lighting”, or you have “inadequate foyer facilities.” As similar as this may sound to the recent scandal of British MPs and their expense claims for absurd items like duck houses while some of their constituents can’t even find homes fit for human habitation (and it is very similar, though not quite so scandalous), it’s actually Arts Council England’s capital grants scheme for organisations that are already in receipt of regular, long term funding.
I’ve sometimes had to escalate to just a hair’s breadth away from taking galleries or arts organisations to court in order to extract a few hundred pounds that they owe me; and this is a situation where I’m supposed to be paid and they agree that I should be. I know artists who’ve just given up fighting for their money. It’s increasingly common for galleries to not even mention budgets or payments, as if it’s something an artist shouldn’t even consider. We’re constantly being told that it’s austerity all the way and everyone has to suffer. And yet… £500K for goods lifts, washrooms and gardening still seems valid to some people, apparently. Read my latest article at a-n about the topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass priorities of arts council mandarins:
PS: Cut from the article for brevity and clarity, but an interesting footnote: in answering objections to huge sums being spent on offices and coffee shops while artists struggle to get a few hundred pounds for an exhibition or workshop if they’re lucky, the Arts Council says it’s addressing decades of under-investment in England’s arts infrastructure with these grants. As the main funding body for the arts in England over the past sixty years or so, whose fault could this under-investment possibly be other than that of the Arts Council itself?