Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by Paul Clark (arts 142)

This submission is from myself, Paul Clark, an individual artist (composer) who regularly works in the subsidised sector, specifically theatre and the performing arts and, on occasion, in the commercial sector of TV, film and commercials.

The themes of the submission are:

- What level of public subsidy is necessary and sustainable for performing arts sector, particularly theatre.

- There is a medium/long term impact of the subsidising of theatre on individual artists/practitioners, who become successful and create inward investment and raise tax revenue for the British economy.

- How the transferable skills learned in (and paid for by) the subsidised sector , including in experimental work, are highly valued by the commercial sector who are prepared to pay for them. The fees they pay (which can be high) are taxable in Britain and return to the exchequer.

- These calculations have to be born in mind when considering cuts. Every time Judy Dench, Danny Boyle or Ben Kingsley make a film and pay tax in the UK (or spend their money here), we are making a return on an investment in their talent made decades ago by the public subsidy in the arts. It is profit making.

- We have a global competitive advantage in this field which must not be neglected

- The competitive advantage is a perceived one and is not one based entirely on cost. In an increasingly competitive global economy we need to strategically focus the economy on sectors that cannot be easily undercut abroad. Theatre is, perhaps surprisingly, such a sector - British performing art is highly regarded internationally, and the premium it can charge feeds directly into the wider economy.

- There are dangers in the Arts becoming over-reliant on private/ corporate sponsorship, because of short termism and global financial instability. Government should create incentives (tax breaks) for corporate sector to invest in arts organizations long term and for core running costs , (rather than project based donations) so those organizations can be planning over longer time frames and do not have to swallow huge cuts at the whim of market/economic downturns.

- This submission puts to one side any wider cultural/social benefits the arts brings.

1. I write this submission in a rehearsal room in Berlin, during a lunch break. we have just finished a session rehearsing a new version of a classic play, Miss Julie, using live video, sound and Music. I am composing the music.

2. In the same room I can see 10 British artists and technicians who have been invited to work on the production. A team first put together at the (subsidised) National Theatre. We are being hired by the Schaubuhne Berlin on the strength of ambitious, experimental work which was paid for entirely by the British subsidised sector. Collectively we will be bringing tens of thousands of Euros into the British economy and paying tax on that in the UK. It is an expensive way for a German producing house to proceed - it would be much cheaper for them to use local artists - but the reputation and professionalism of British artists is such that they are prepared to pay.

3. The piece is co-directed by Katie Mitchell and Leo Warner. The National Theatre invested in their first collaboration in pioneering video/theatre work six years ago. I wonder if they would have taken such an expensive risk in a cash strapped atmosphere of cuts. They have taken this work to theatres in Germany (twice), Austria, and the USA and all of this income comes back into the British economy. Leo's company (59 Productions) created its first ten productions with public subsidy - he now has taken this work to , for example New York Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Opera, The Lincoln Centre New York and other venues around the world.

4. You will probably have been reminded already that the estimated contribution from West End VAT receipts alone are larger than the entire Arts Council theatre budget. Much of this success comes down to the investment made by the government in public arts subsidy - it is difficult to find artists and technicians in the West End who didn't cut their teeth in the subsidised theatre. There are direct and indirect ways in which this subsidy/investment feeds back into the British economy.

5. Others will be making the case for the tourism that the subsidised arts attract to Britain (particularly London) but consider also the wealth created by individuals working in the subsidised sector who take their skills to the West End, Broadway or to film . Even that doyen of the commercial theatre Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph had its first professional production produced by the (subsidise) Young Vic theatre. Stephen Daldry was director of the (subsidised) Royal Court before making Billy Elliott for film and stage. Phylida LLoyd worked at the (subsidised) Royal Exchange Manchester and the (subsidised) RSC before making Mamma Mia for stage and screen . Tom Morris was Artistic Director of (subsidised) BAC before co-directing (with Marianne Eliott - RSC/Manchester Royal Exchange etc...) War Horse (opening soon on Broadway and shortly to be adapted for film by Stephen Spielberg, featuring a British cast - tbc - set to include Peter Mullen and Emily Watson who both started their careers on the subsidised stage.) The list goes on and on and I haven't included names in the technical (lighting/sound/design) departments who take their work around the world, because the list is already long enough just cherry-picking a few famous examples.

6. If the idea of cuts is to address a public deficit that will haunt generations to come then the argument for cutting funding to theatre is lost already purely on economic grounds. The British theatre creates £2bn p/a on a subsidy of £120million. We have to invest if the criteria for cuts are financial and are being made for the long term.

7. I would add that it is not just mainstream practitioners that can make the leap into serious revenue generating productions - who would have guessed that experimental company Improbable (whose primary medium was sellotape for a while) would create a show (Shockheaded Peter) that was a hit in the West End and Broadway? Practitioners in experimental work can flourish, if they are well nurtured early in their development.

8. You will know that Film inward investment of £800m far outstrips the entire ACE budget. Obviously subsidised theatre cannot take the full credit for this - but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

9. Consider a few names - Sam Mendes (American Beauty) , Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) Mike Leigh (Vera Drake etc..), Martin McDonagh (Oscar winning director and widely believed to be the second most- performed playwright in the USA after Shakespeare), Nick Hytner (Madness of King George) - all have had or continue to have long associations with the subsidised theatre. And then there's acting talent: Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart, assorted Redgraves, Bill Nighy, Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Ralph Feinnes, Maggie Smith, Ian McKellan. etc, etc...

10. Try compiling lists like this of other great English speaking countries like Australia or Canada. The reason you will struggle is because the UK has a culturally embedded, decades-long , low-cost solution for training talent and offering up the skills learned to the commercial sector. The subsidised theatre.

11. Take my own field of music; Stephen Warbeck worked in theatre (musical director of the subsidised RSC) before going on to win an Oscar for his score for Shakespeare in Love and composing dozens of film scores. George Fenton also started his career composing at the RSC before working on scores of film scores and going on to win 5 Oscar nominations.

12. There are numerous other examples, not only in film but in TV and commercials. Careers like this are a fantastic investment by the British government - bringing ready money into our economy.

13. I can't speak for these composers, but I know that the tax I paid in the UK for two sequences of commercials made in the USA is more than I have been paid in Arts Council Grants in my entire 20 year career. Anecdotally, I know that the fact that I work in experimental forms and have written operas holds a certain allure in the wider commercial creative community. They want originality and the subsidised sector can take the financial risk of nurturing it while it is still cheap. The commercial world know that if you have performed at a high level on the British stage, the quality of your work is likely to be high.

14 . As composers we obviously are creating further ripples in the creative economy - paying artists' agents, session musicians, recording studios, publishers and the like. Our collection agency PRS (in the form of its charitable foundation the PRSF) is the biggest donor to creating new music with an annual budget of over £1m

15. If it is cheaper to procure steel from Russia than England, then a buyer will procure from Russia. In the arts/creative industries this is simply not the way the economy works. It may be the case that Sri Lankan economy can offer a much cheaper film score or Opera director, but this is not enough to make it competitive - the perceived worth of the talent is critical.

16. We live In a European economy which will struggle to grow (is already struggling) as it competes against cheap employment elsewhere in lean asset-stripped industries seeking ever- shrinking profit margins. If we are serious about aiming for 3% growth in this country, nurturing industries that cannot be undercut on cost alone should be a crucial part of an economic strategy. The only way we will be undercut in the performing arts is if we let it atrophy by cutting public subsidy and slowly depressing the pool of talent. To let it atrophy would be as silly as the french deciding to not tend to the vines of its money-spinning wine industry during a bad drought year.

17. The investment (it IS an investment) is also incredibly good value. In many areas of the public sector it is easy to find quick ways of cutting costs - consultancy fees in NHS Trusts, maybe, or bloated pay-packets for senior figures in Universities for example. Orchestras/Opera pay serious money to conductors and virtuoso soloist and singers. In the subsidised theatre it is very difficult to make such a case. Its quite hard to think of anyone in British subsidised theatre who is embarrassingly overpaid. Performers fees are not yet criminally low, but they re not far off. Especially in the dance world. Equity minimum is currently £400 per week - which is not great for freelance work, particularly if you are highly educated and skilled. Fortunately for the UK economy, there is good, artistically rewarding work around, being subsidised by the country which make such a small wage worth taking. Plus there is the prospect, for the fortunate or talented, of upward mobility financially, as I've illustrated with the numerous examples of those who have made good on the public investment. As a fringe benefit for the British economy, at a time when we desperately need fluidity in capital flow, you can be sure that the vast majority of recipients of theatre public subsidy will not be investing their money in investment vehicles that don't feed back into the real economy, like buy-to-let properties or hedge funds. On £400 per week you are buying a sandwich and maybe a book. Our £120m investment flows right through the economy. If £120m seems like an insignificant sum, in the context of, say, the Special Liquidity Scheme of over £200bn that allowed the banks to lend to each other (but not necessarily the public) then I agree, it is a very small sum.

18. I would suggest an increase in funding for theatre would be a more financially prudent decision than cuts, if (as the government insists it is) these decisions are being made for long term reasons.

19. Notice that , despite being a musician, who has worked in the classical world and in Opera, I am not using the same arguments to defend these areas of the arts. They too play their part in the economy but Theatre is a particularly compelling economic case in terms of the cost to benefit ratio. I would argue that UK dance could probably pull off the same trick if it was as well supported as theatre.

20. With no serious adjustment to the way the banking and finance sectors operate and re-invest their surplus capital , there is a real danger in the next few decades of similar trouble in the financial sector to the recent events we have experienced. Recent history is littered with increasingly frequent crises with numerous industrial basket cases (Long Term Capital Management ‘98, Enron ‘01, Northern Rock ‘06, Savings and Loans ‘84, Continental Illinois Bank ‘84, and general meltdown in Japan and Nordic countries ‘97. And then the dot com bubble and the recent bank wipeout of RBS et al. The private sector is extremely, unpredictably insecure. If we create an arts economy over-reliant on private sponsorship we risk a great deal. MOMA New York lost a third of its revenue overnight when Lehman Brothers collapsed. This is a case in point - they (Lehmann) wanted to invest in a huge cultural behemoth like MOMA, not a small theatre like BAC where I did most of my early productions. Luckily the Arts Council did want to invest. At home, we have seen how the ICA's fortunes have been rocked by the financial crisis, partly because their fund raising auction happened to take place in the same weekend as the Lehmann collapse and raised £500,000 pounds less than expected. It has also suffered from short term investments by the private sector .

21. There is no compelling reason why the private sector shouldn’t be contributing to a mixed arts economy, but I would encourage the government to create incentives for Industry to sponsor over the long term - perhaps giving tax breaks for investments that are ongoing for 3-5 years. In addition, I would suggest giving incentives to invest in arts company’s core running costs, rather than, say a particular (transient) performance or exhibition. These core costs are extremely difficult to raise funds for - it is harder to motivate private donors to put their money in the rather unglamorous field of administration. As an arts organization, it is very difficult and inefficient to make medium term plans when you are relying on funds that last for only a year or for a single project.

September 2010