Arts cuts - deja vu

March 31 2011

Image of Arts cuts - deja vu

Above is a Canadian cartoonist's take on arts cuts in British Columbia.

And, as I always like taking the 'long view' of events, here's Woodrow Wyatt's critique of an earlier Conservative government's cuts, in 1952:

Nothing like this has ever happened before in our history. Never before have so many museums and art galleries been compelled by any Government to impose restrictions on the public. And all this in order to save 84 people on the staff and £30,000 a year. When these announcements were made, there were, naturally, tremendous protests from those interested in the presevation of our culture. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury sought to justify these cuts in the House on 25th June by a very peculiar method of argument. He said that all museums and art galleries, taken together, had 59 more on their staffs today than they had before the war, and he went on to say that they had 277,000 square feet less of galleries to look after, because of losses due to enemy action, and that therefore there was no need whatever for them to have closed down any part of their premises.

The Financial Secretary looks at our heritage, our traditions and culture as a matter of arithmetic, and no doubt this Government would try to assess the artistic value of the Elgin Marbles by weight. In that case, there would be very little hope—if there are to be further cuts—for Magna Carta, because, although it is a very important document, it does not weigh very much.

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