I see the petitions and the protests and half-heartedly sign up. Half-heartedly not because of a lack of passion for public funding of the arts but because I fear the deed is done or soon will be. The UK government is on a destructive collision course, from which they will not deviate. And I don’t think the arts will get much truck from coalition back-benchers, who may just influence some of the other funding decisions. The situation in Scotland is more complicated because the funding comes from the Scottish government, who may be a little more predisposed towards the arts. However, their budgets will be under enormous pressure when the UK cuts come into force.
Many theatres in Scotland receive a goodly chunk of funding from the local authority and that is where the unforgiving double-bladed axe will hit hard and brutally. We have already seen theatres like the Byre in St Andrews move from being an excellent producing house to a receiving venue. Perth Theatre has had to cut back drastically the number of in-house productions and Pitlochry has seen its funding cut back. No matter what is claimed, the National Theatre of Scotland has soaked up a lot of money and it hasn’t filled the gap in some of those locations. I am a supporter of NTS but it should have been in addition to and not instead of.
The coming year will, I am sure, see lots of bad news heading our way and there is an inevitability about it all and that is what is getting people down. I said that I wasn’t a drama queen but what the hell – in the words of Gloria Gaynor, we will survive but (thanks Bette), fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.