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Where Scotland gets it right on arts

The five national arts companies in Scotland are now funded directly by the Edinburgh government. The five are National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO), Scottish Ballet, Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) and Scottish Opera. They performed to nearly half a million people last year. Not bad in a nation of five million.

A report this morning says their finances are in good shape, too.

England should do the same. For a decade and more I have urged the Big Four – Covent Garden, ENO, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare – do demand direct funding from the Culture Department (DCMS) and break free of the sagging Arts Council.

Most directors would dearly love to do so, but English politicians like Lazy Hunt-Vaizey are desperate to keep the Arts Council going as a fig-leaf for their errors and they fear that stripping ACE of its main customers would be a fatal blow.

The break-up will happen, though, and sooner rather than later.

ACE, by the way, has still not filed its annual accounts. They are almost two months late. Send in the bailiffs.

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  1. 1a. I guess the £4.5b arriving in Scotland each year from England, under the Barnett formula, is rather helpful. . .
    1b. £25m spent, 0.5m performed to. A subsidy of £50 per person per performance. A figure too high, too low, worth paying?

    2. I doubt that Jeremy Hunt wishes to “keep the Arts Council going as a fig leaf…”, and from what I know would be keen to look at reform. (Vaizey I’m not so sure) – but imagine the political outcry from scrapping or radically changing the Arts Council! Not worth losing that amount of political goodwill in a coalition scenario.

    3. Why “send in the bailiffs”? Doesn’t make sense. Companies House have a series of statutory penalties for the late filing of accounts, and until those have been applied, I can’t see the relevance. You could call for the directors to be prosecuted, as failure to file accounts or annual returns is a criminal offence which can result in directors being fined personally in the criminal courts. The registrar may also take steps to strike the company off the public record. But talk of bailiffs is just playing to the crowd.

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