Even idiots do the right thing sometimes.
Boris is an idiot. I think that much has been apparent for a long, long time.
But this week, he did something sensible, something right, something innovative.
He pledged a huge whack of money to the arts in Britain.
There are some who will wonder about that.
Niall Breslin tweeted yesterday that he “Just had a debate with a guy online where he suggested the arts is a hobby and bit of craic to those who chose it as career. How it should not get funding or support over other more important areas. His profile picture is him at a music festival.”
Most if not all musicians in Ireland will tell you that, at some stage, they have been invited to appear at some festival or function or event where they have been told “we can’t pay you but it will be great exposure.”
I tried that with a plumber and a mechanic but it didn’t work!
The arts are, indeed, vital.
There used to be a gallery in Dublin where, an artist told me, the proprietor took 80 per cent of the sale price of paintings telling the artists yes, “you’re lucky to be in my gallery with all the exposure you’ll get.”
There was a pub in Dublin many years ago which was famous for rock gigs. The bands were paid by the proprietor – who then charged even more than their fee for use of his sound equipment. He wouldn’t let them use their own.
The arts are not a hobby.
They are a vital part of our lives.
Right now, artists are suffering. Small galleries aren’t open for people to casually walk in and browse let alone buy.
Our major galleries are just reopening but slowly and with restrictions.
Theatres are closed.
Bookshops are beginning to open but only allowing small numbers in to browse.
Sure, you can buy online. But personally, browsing through a proper bookstore like Hanna’s in Rathmines – it smells of books for God’s sake – is part of the joy.
And as for music, well, forget it.
Musicians, sound men, barmen who work at venues, ticket collectors – they’re all out of work.
And don’t mention Spotify and YouTube. Spotify pays $0.0044 per stream – YouTube pays $0.00069.
Life isn’t either/or and neither is government spending.
So it’s not funding the arts at the expense of a hospital bed or a house.
The arts help keep us going, help to keep us sane.
Me? I’m waiting for rescheduled gigs by 10CC and Ron Sexsmith and The Walls and several others.
I can manage with my pension.
These brilliant, brilliant musicians and performers might be getting a few bob from the state.
But they’re losing out badly. Many are looking at throwing in the towel altogether.
zgrsa They deserve so much more.