So Newcastle Council have announced a proposal to cut 100% of their arts funding…
This news sends chills down my spine. That a city that has had culture at the heart of it’s massively successful regeneration is about to have it’s legs cut out from under it. A city I am very fond of. That had things turned out differently for me personally I was all prepared to move to two years ago. A city that is home to some brilliant venues and even more brilliant people who work and make work there.
This news sends chills down my spine because now I fear, more than ever, for the rest of the regions. I fear that if this government continues to behave so idiotically, clamping down on public spending and strangling the regions that eventually we will all have to go to London to see theatre, to enjoy art because for some reason they feel we don’t need it up here in the grim old North.
And what really sends chills up my spine is the fear of a migritation that follows this. That all our talented, brightest and best will be forced to seek the capital in order to fulfill their aspirations because why should they stay? What will we, the poor lowly regions have to offer them?
I love the arts. I need them. All the arts. I don’t just mean the stuffy old, historical and ‘high art’. I like my art dirty and raucous, fast and loose, hands-on and accessible to all, ethereal and experimental, developing and emerging, studio based and site-specific, intimate and epic, magical and political. I like variety and lots of it. I want everyone in every region to have the chance to see it, hear it, taste it, touch and be touched by it and so I feel deeply for those in Newcastle who give their heart and souls to make great art for the people in their region. I know they will fight this and fight hard. I just want them to know I will be standing right behind them. And I won’t be the only one. I hope this is the beginning and not the end.