Philistines must quantify:
how many Euros,
pounds or dollars
is an opera worth?
What makes it worth
a dip into the public purse?
How will it make life better?
(It could hardly make it worse.)
What do the voting masses think?
(What shade are they of blue or pink?)
What shade of which will it empower?
Which shades might it not disempower,
which bring back from the brink?
Did music lose its value to the nation
on some street corner
where the nation lost its way?
What's that you say;
you've got a new libretto?
What special benefits do you forsee -
if none, we'll have to let it go,
so say if there's a pay-off, kid.
In terms of tourist trade perhaps,
or racial harmony?
Come on now, laddie, lift the lid!
Don't tell us that it entertains -
and don't provoke us either, they're both passé;
we've stopped the funding on those gravy trains!
We're all in this together, man.
All worms are equal in our can!
Cohesion in the city, now...
we might splash out on that...
could your concerto pull that off?
It's one of our objectives, see,
something we must fix...
so, who would watch this play of yours,
the avant garde, the poor, the rich ?
Or could you promise us an ethnic mix?
Art for art's sake cuts no ice...
"Creative Industries"? Yeah, that sounds nice...
I like the sound of that last word.
Industries... We might buy that - not too absurd.
Ah therapy? You're talking now!
That's for the common good, we'd all agree
it's worth a bob or two somehow...
except... you'll understand, it's got to be
the focus of the work. That is a must.
A spin-of's just not good enough.
We're talking here of the main thrust!
Why should we fund the guy who looks
to stick his nose in obscure books?
And if not him, some Glyndebourne guy?
Where should we draw the spending line -
along the ground, or in the sky?
Your poems on earth meditation
must justify themselves like health,
police and education!
This poem was suggested to me by an article in the Saturday Guardian(Value Added, by David Edgar) pointing out that although the minister has described the present cut-back in funding to the arts as temporary, a majority in the government would like to scrap it altogether. In the mean time "they" are devising ways to asssess the value of each art in their own (strictly practical) terms.
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