Congratulations to the well deserving team at The Royal Opera House. The £10 million endowment from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is however, more than good news. It indicates a potential sea-change in arts funding.
State sponsorship of the arts has generated vulnerability in those whose livelihood depends on Arts Council grants. What’s the alternative? Be dependent entirely on box-office? For ROH this would inevitably result in endless seasons of La Traviata, Sleeping Beauty… All gorgeous. Unfortunately leaves little margin for artistic freedom, genuine creativity or experimentation.
Money buys artistic freedom. Lack of money constrains ambitions.
As I understand, the endowment is a capital sum that, through interest and capital growth, provides a long-term income. Effectively a water-tight insurance policy.
unleash a tsunami of demands from arts organisations demanding endowments
rather than one off grants? Who knows but it has to be an improvement on the
current you're either in or out scenario.
All of the public
organisations I know are gearing up for that slightly clichéd expression “a
change of administration”. With the prospect of no real increase in arts
funding, plus the buoyant public demand for art in all forms, we have to look
to new models of sustainability. We need to accept that we are all responsible
for the development of our society. Dependency on government subsudy can abidcate responsibility in the wider business community. It is just not something that they "do".
A cultured and creative population is the measure of any civilised society. The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about that. The Americans appear to have this sussed with a history and value placed on creative philanthropy.
It’s made me think, again, about the relationship between creativity and money. A separate post, I feel.
debate this raises, it really couldn’t happen to nicer people. Paul Reeve, now
Head Of Education, gave me my first break directing (wait for it) a Bollywood
version of Turandot. A new commission, we had classical Asian and Western composers,
film makers, players form the orchestra, Bollywood choreographers, librettists
and me trying to pretend I really knew what I was doing. Plus over 100 young people
This was a very long time before Andrew Lloyd Webber hit the Bollywood trail. Yes, Paul knows the meaning of the word zeitgeist alright. Tony Hall, Chief Executive of ROH, still describes this as a formative experience. In post a few weeks, I will never forget his face, support and enthusiasm as he sat near this very nervous young (ish) director.
Well done to all of them. I know their work is about so much more than anyone could ever anticipate.