Funding the arts costs everyone in Britain 17p per week. That's equivalent to half a pint of milk from Tesco. The arts earn the exchequer around 35p per person per week. That's equivalent to a pint of milk from Tesco. Quite aside from all the reasons the arts are A Good Thing, they're straightforwardly, unequivocally profitable. I thought that was the sort of thing this government cared about.
Did you buy a coffee on the way to work today? That's equivalent to your share of arts subsidy until the end of September. If it's Starbucks, til Christmas. Have a pint last night? Have one less tonight and you've covered your share of arts funding until New Year's Eve. And if you buy a full tank of petrol, that's enough to cover your share until after this vicious government has been booted out.
It's not a lot.
On the other hand, everyone in Britain's share of the bank bailout was a one off payment of 708,333 pints of milk. Each. Or to put it another way, 7,100 beers. Each. And that's at London prices. If you drink four pints a night, that's enough to keep you merry every night until the next election. It looks like we're going to need it.
The difference between my share of the UK's arts subsidy this week and my share of the bank bailout, is the same as the difference between half a ruler and the length of the UK. Including outlying islands.
The arts are affordable. And they're profitable. It bears repeating that the exchequer reaps from the arts double in VAT what it has sown in subsidy. A pretty strong business model.
Not that the best thing about the arts is that they're inexpensive and offer a return. If we stop being profitable, that doesn't mean the government should stop funding us. But for now, these are the best arguments we've got against a government so clearly motivated by straightforward greed. The other arguments still stand, and here they are put better than I ever could.
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will