Tory Tony Arts Cuts:
The new DCMS push for thinking about a renewed emphasis on supporting the creative industries is beginning to look somewhat like a rearguard action, as other bits of government lose interest or even take outright hostile actions. Latest in line to kick ‘the creative economy’ is Gordon Brown and the Treasury. A worrying lead-story in this week’s Times Higher newspaper forecasts “considerable pain” for university arts courses, as the Treasury’s new metrics funding system will switch considerable amounts of funding away from the arts and toward science-based courses. Will the Higher Education Minister fight back against the Treasury? Erm, probably not. In February, H.E. Minister Bill Rammell mused that it was “no bad thing” that applications for arts-based subjects were falling.

In the recent words of the Director of the Tate Modern, someone who is out every night schmoozing with the policy-makers… “The Government’s problem is a lack of awareness of what culture brings to the productive fabric of the country. It’s fundamental. It’s what I call the immaterial side of production. That’s what makes a difference. But they can’t see that. They cannot weigh it, they cannot measure it, and so it doesn’t exist.”

How hard would it really be to get sound evidence on self-employed and microbusiness creatives? We file tax returns, which get digitised. How difficult would it be for the Inland Revenue to extract the “business type” self-description from the relevant box on the forms, then place it in a huge comma-delimited file that could be searched by keyword? A search for self-described “artists” would give a reasonably accurate and up-to-date ‘ballpark’ figure for the number of professional self-employed artists in the UK.

[tags]creative industries[/tags]