From the front line: you probably won’t notice the cuts in the Arts Council budget, and the furore over them masks the fact that ‘the arts’ are, not to put too fine a point on it, fucked, whatever the measly sum given them by New Labour. The Guardian‘s idea that ‘A series of above-inflation funding settlements since Labour came to power has released a flowering of fertile talent in arts organisations around the country’ is miserable cant: ‘the arts’ are kept going by volunteers and the government has maintained a veritable Speenhamland system of non-funding, just about keeping ‘them’ going but certainly not permitting any kind of ‘break-out’.
Why all the quote-marks? Mainly because I don’t know what ‘the arts’ are, but I do know about minority film culture, and this gets by on will, dedication, self-negation, and lots of other values ilx-popism hasn’t quite eradicated from my book of Good Things. Three of the key film organizations reside all in one location, the third floor of a warehouse in Dalston: the magazine Vertigo, the Wallflower Press, and probably most importantly the quondam Other Cinema’s film library. The department imposing these pointless and divisive cuts is the same that’s going to be bringing big tax gains for the Treasury by ‘liberalizing’ gambling. It’ll probably make a profit.
The de Gaulle government’s vandalization of cinema culture in France led to the Langlois affair of February 1968 — widely seen as a contributory factor to the events of May. Just saying.