Magazine article Art Monthly

Lies, Damn Lies and Spin

Magazine article Art Monthly

Lies, Damn Lies and Spin

Article excerpt

When the BBC caves in to government pressure and starts referring to the cuts as 'savings', it is obvious who is winning the media war. After all, it is not for nothing that the present prime minister is a former TV public relations executive. At least under New Labour Alastair Campbell, the government's infamous spinmeister, initially stayed firmly in the background. However, spinning the truth is one thing, but when the mainstream media unquestioningly repeats culture secretary Jeremy Hunt's claim that his cuts to the arts represent a mere 15% reduction in funding, it is time to re-examine the facts.

The spinning began back in October 2010, when chancellor George Osborne announced that 'frontline arts' would be cut by only 15% (Artnotes AM341), even claiming that such a cut was supported by some major organisations within the arts community as being the maximum they could withstand without having to scale back provision drastically. But what did the chancellor mean by 'frontline arts'? Most people interpreted the statement to mean that either all state-funded arts organisations would see a 15% reduction in their funding over four years, or that all state funding for the arts would be reduced by 15%. But it seems that what Osborne actually meant was that while most so-called 'flagship' national museums that are directly funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport--Tate, the British Museum etc--would indeed be cut by 15%, the DCMS itself would have its budget slashed by 25%. Similarly, while Arts Council England, which distributes the bulk of the rest of government funding for the arts, would be instructed to reduce its funding to Regularly Funded Organisations again by 15%, ACE itself was to be handed a massive 30% cut to its budget. …

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