We don’t often get political at Red Dog Music – we’re generally too busy making music and furnishing other people with the equipment they need to make music – but it is sometimes worthwhile looking at the bigger picture surrounding our shared passion, specifically the bigger financial and political picture. And what better day to do so than the Chancellor‘s autumn budget statement?
Part of the government’s austerity drive has included some pretty swingeing cuts to arts funding which, as music-makers, we read as “music funding”. Check out this map to get an idea of how massive and wide-ranging this has been in England. Scotland is not much different.
There will be less money used to encourage children to get into music, less money for community projects that bring people together with music, and less money to help less commercial types of music get made. There is of course nothing wrong with being less wasteful with spending, but it is worth thinking about what constitutes “waste” and what doesn’t.
Winston Churchill supposedly once said, when asked to cut arts funding to help the war effort, “Then what are we fighting for?”.
Even if he didn’t say this, the claim that he did went viral because it resonated with a lot of people; if all those things of wonder such as music and the arts are stripped out of life, what do we really have left to live for?
This is where George Osborne needs to consider the effects of his policies, and the following anecdote may help him put it all into perspective:
The boss of a large company gave his tickets to the evening performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony” to the company’s accountant. The next morning, the boss found the following written report on his desk:
1. For considerable periods, the oboe players had nothing to do. The numbers should be reduced and their work spread over the whole orchestra.
2. All twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems an unnecessary duplication, and the staff of this section should be drastically reduced.
3. Much effort was absorbed in the playing of grace-notes. This seems an excessive refinement and it is recommended that all 16th notes be rounded up to the nearest eighth. If this were done, it should be possible to use trainees and lower-grade operators at reduced salaries.
4. No useful purpose is served by repeating with the horns, the same passages that have already been handled by the strings. If all such redundant passages were eliminated, the concert could be reduced from two hours to twenty minutes. In fact, if Schubert had attended to these matters, he probably should have been able to finish the symphony after all.
Then again, he might just read it and nod his head in agreement at the wisdom of such musical frugality.
What can we do about this? Possibly not much other than making our voices heard by voting and contacting our local MPs.
However, a good start would be to donate to one of these lovely charities:
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