That seemed to be the strength of the establishment objection to abolition, as expressed by Richard Mantle of Opera North in our Front Row debate last night. Click here to listen (starts at 07:40). Follow further debate here.
The objection strikes me as specious. Over 68 years of British public funding, arts organisations developed a need to talk to power. Some, especially in the regions, want to remind the distant authorities in London of the valuable work they are doing. Others have come to regard the ACE as a resource bank, an occasionally sympathetic ear, a free cup of tea.
But that’s no reason to keep the ACE.
It’s time the arts grew up and stopped talking to power. No other industry, other than arms, has such engagement with central authority. Enough. Scrap the ACE, invest the money saved in grassroots and start-ups, and the arts will forget they ever needed a dialogue with bureaucracy.