Jonathan Jones makes a compelling case that the success of visual arts in the UK is making it hard to justify government support of the arts–now a hot button issue with a celebrity artists publicity campaign:
A poll by the organisers of the Threadneedle prize, which was reported by the BBC, found that two-thirds of its sample “agree with arts funding change”; only 16% of those questioned believed the public should be the main funder of visual art. A fifth felt visual art should get no state funds at all, while 66% said the majority of visual art funding should come from corporate sponsorship and private donations.
Sadly, the success of Britain’s artists is a major reason many people will support cuts to visual art funding. If there is one thing the public believes about art it is that artists make piles of money. (The full mantra goes: for putting rubbish in galleries.) And it’s no use the art community complaining about this image when it has spent the last few years extravagantly vaunting connections with big money. Museums have deferred to commerce more fulsomely in the last decade than ever seemed imaginable. It seems incredible that Tate led the way in gearing London’s entire autumn art calendar to the Frieze art fair, an event that resonantly insists on the glory of the big, beautiful art market. It’s no use complaining that people think art can fend for itself, when you’ve fallen over yourselves to praise Frieze and the commercial ethos it stands for.
ArtsFaustian Bargain with Commerce Means It’s No Good Carping About Cuts (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)