Just not for pop bands, eh?

We’ve a demand that we should be subsidising pop music in the same manner that we do opera and the like. Something more than a little ridiculous given that pop music is meant to be commercial – the clue’s rather in the name there, popular. Thus, if you’re making something which is meant to be popular and you can’t snare a shilling or two while doing so then you shouldn’t be doing it at all, should you? Your production is, you know, unpopular therefore bad by the standards of this genre?

The Arts Council is spending too much money on “posh” opera and giving other music genres a raw deal, a leading figure in the British music industry has claimed.

For every £1 awarded to pop music, £8 goes to opera companies – a situation that is “manifestly unjust” according to UK Music, the umbrella organisation that represents the commercial music industry.

Michael Dugher, the former Labour MP and chief executive of UK Music, complained that the Arts Council risks being seen as “too posh for pop” and called for an urgent review of funding arrangements.

There’s an amusement that opera etc were in fact the popular musics of their day but that’s another matter. Now they’re determinedly uncommercial and thus exist only with that subsidy arrangement. Sure, it’s correct that we should abolish the entire system and if the toffs want their arias then they can pay for them themselves. But subsidising today’s avowed pop music would be ludicrous. The very fact that it needs subsidy would show that it’s bad pop music.

Besides, everyone knows that pop band subsidy belongs in the aid development budget, not the arts one.

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  1. “subsidising today’s avowed pop music would be ludicrous” Not from the point of view of where the money came from and where it goes to. Subsidising opera and not pop is only absurd in the preserving an endangered species sense. Redistributive-wise or arguably even tax/benefit neutral, it’s the other way round.

    And in any case subsidies are questionable. When all your opera has been kept and displayed in subsidised zoos for decades its hard to know whether wild opera would thrive or die.

  2. Yes, zero out all subsidies; any scheme of deciding between the genres necessarily implies a value judgement, especially against garage bands not big enough to reorient themselves to writing grant proposals.

  3. I looked at the annual report for the Theatre Royal in Newcastle whose government funding has been cut to zero. Yes, nada. “Box Office £13,820,266,Funding £0,Other trading income £1,283,897,Other income £907,540” Expenditure was £15,386,745 so there was a small surplus, for which there are investment plans.

    Highlights of the report say “Attendances have been very good – over 378,000 people at the Theatre Royal, an astonishing 81.6% of capacity (some 20% above the national average), ” and further on it says “there were 399 performances on the Theatre Royal main stage. We also presented another blockbuster pantomime that (yet again!) smashed all previous records, and saw Danny & Clive greet their millionth ticket holder. A run of hit musicals also did big business in the Box Office, in particular an eight week run of Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular Mary Poppins which was enjoyed by a staggering 70,000 people”
    Panto is popular – and it has taken massive cuts to arts funding to discover this? Apparently so. Theatre groups putting on shows that people like, whatever next! – in the Tory world this is a disgusting development and northern theatres should be ashamed of putting on this garbage.