The mixed news from the Arts Council for England today has left the landscape of arts provision in this country fundamentally changed. Not as a result of the number of companies and organisations that have lost some or all of their funding, but because the flimsy veil has slipped from the Government's true face and their craven attempts at social engineering can be seen for what they are. The general public, should they have the will to do so, can examine the results of the Government's policies on arts provision and detect the undermining of opportunities for creativity and self-development that the arts provide.
Just as they have taken the scalpel to the NHS (operating without anaesthetic), and broken the spine of public libraries, so are they attempting to pull down the curtain on artistic endeavour. Not in a single swipe, of course, that would be too blatant, but in a more insidious manner. The big, tourist friendly organisations remain secure; they have had to take a little bit of the pain, we are all in this together remember, but they aren't facing closure. A number of companies from our neck of the woods - the North of England - have had their funding slashed or stopped completely. Red Ladder Theatre who have created some of the most powerful and socially relevant theatre in years are one example. Their left-wing origins and political allegiances, or their commitment to social issues won't have had anything to do with the decision, of course.