Toynbee screeches in this morning's Guardian about 'cultural vandalism' in the coalition's trimming of Arts Council grants, completely oblivious to the sustained acts of cultural vandalism committed by the Labour government in flooding the nation with aliens and in the systematic destruction of local cultural identity. Destroying English working-class communities is fine according to Lady Toynbee; cutting 10% State grant from the Black Vagina Dance Collective isn't.
She's also oblivious to the economic powerhouse of the private-sector arts fields in the UK; film and video post-production expertise that leads the world, London's theatreland, the music industry, publishing, fine arts markets, fashion and iconic design that punches well above its weight in international markets. All of these earn premium export income and pour taxes into the Chancellor's coffers. Unlike the Black Vagina Dance Collective.
You see, if you cast your eye down the list of 839 arts organisations permanently funded by the Arts Council at a cost of some £325m annually, all but about 40 of them are, frankly, crap. Toynbee may imagine it's a wonderful use of tax money to bring third-rate mime artists into Manchester primary schools, but actually a couple of the kids mums could do just as well for free. Lots of the stuff funded is embarrassingly bad, stuff you'd squirm in discomfort to see it's so awful. Without a State grant, most of it would thankfully not see the light of day.
The quality end that I think worth subsidising - including bodies such as the RSC, the symphony orchestras, opera and ballet, even the ICA - are an integral part of the UK's cultural 'offer' and secure us a place at the global top table, which is worth having. All that throwing tax money at the Black Vagina Dance Collective achieves is to prevent half a dozen fit-for-work young women from taking their place in the productive economy.