As some of you know, I rewrote the below post for the Guardian blog. You can find it here.
I got one response that's worth reproducing. It and my counter-response below:
Personally I'm happy to fund the arts cos they're awesome but the arguments here are misleading. It basically says that the government win out of arts, because they make twice as much in VAT from the arts as it costs to fund them. Maybe s...o but that argument only works if you assume that if i had a tenner which i wanted to spend on arts, but couldn't because they don't exist, then the government miss out on £2 in tax. Surely not true - i would just go and spend that tenner on Nando's or clothes, so the government still gets its £2. In fact I might spend it something taxed more aggresively like a pint and 20 cigarettes where the government would get about £6.
It's a good point, as far as it goes. But I'm not arguing that we should fund the arts simply because they're profitable. There are far better reasons for funding them regardless of their economic impact. I'm just trying to counter the assumption that arts subsidy loses the government money. As it doesn't, it's not subsidy, it's investment: since they don't lose money, why *not* maintain the funding? Especially given all the other, much better, reasons for supporting the arts.
While I'm about it, here are two more of my favourite financial factoids:
Tax evasion and avoidance cost the UK £95bn a year. Imagine a tall man. The arts cost £0.47bn. Beside the man, a spider.
Last year the Queen's estate rose in value by £25m. In the same year, funding the arts for the whole of the North West cost... £25m!
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will