A Dependent Client Class

J.G Ballard (Empire of the Sun, Crash and many others) writes in his autobiography, Miracles of Life:

The funds disbursed by the Arts Council over the decades have created a dependent client class of poets, novelists and weekend publishers whose chief mission in life is to get their grants renewed, as anyone attending a poetry magazine’s parties will quickly learn from the  nearby conversations.  Why the taxes of people on modest incomes (the source of most taxes today) should pay for the agreeable hobby of a North London children’s doctor, or a self important idler like the late editor of the New Review, is something I have never understood.  I assume that the patronage of the arts by the state serves a political role by performing a castration ceremony, neutering any revolutionary impulse and reducing the ‘arts community’ to a docile herd.  They are allowed to bleat, but are too enfeebled to ever paw the ground.

I can’t help but think the state is using much the same tactic with community development workers,  third sector and social enterprise communities.

Even in the for profit sector the state has fallen so in thrall of the ‘start up rate’ that many business are started in a flabby and flaccid condition because of the ‘encouragement’, soft loans and grants made available in some areas.

Comments

  1. I do hope you haven’t been reduced to taking advice from science-fiction writers…postmodernists have no morals!

    This is a difficult argument because the obvious conclusion is to withdraw funding meaning that no-one starts up a business (and there’s no arts).

    Could you please clarify a business in ‘flabby and flaccid condition’? And how does this differ from a business with a liquid cash-flow situation?

    • Hmmm. I get inspiration from all sorts of places. I am much pickier about where I get my advice from….. Have you read any Ballard?

      The conclusion is not to withdraw funding – but to leave funding of businesses to the market place. Sure we would get fewer start-ups but they would be much healthier and survival rates would improve. Higher survival and success rates lead in the longer term to a more enterprising culture.

      You think that we only create art because someone pays us to do it? The first cave painting was funded by the state. I think not. We create art and business because it gives us way of shaping our world, of expressing our selves. They are ways of being in relationship to others. As soon as this relationship is distorted by the public purse then integrity maybe compromised.

      Flaccid and flabby condition = dependent on soft grants, loans and ‘favours’ to stay in business. Business plans that is laughably optimistic – but ticks public sector funding boxes and targets. A business may have both a ‘positive cash flow situation’ and be in a ‘flabby and flaccid condition’ if much of its revenue derives from grants and soft loans. There are plenty of enterprises out there who have lost sight of purpose and mission as they have become miserable grant writing bodies chasing whatever funding is available to survive.

      Many of these were once the darlings of government policy on whom the winds of politics changed.

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