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  • "Every television programme you watch, Rockwell, is Art - in the broader sense of the term that is generally encompassed in speaking of The Arts ... although, like the more commercial 'modern art' which I don't like either, not all programmes broadcast are of a quality and taste you might like, e.g. soaps & Reality TV, I expect you spend quite a bit of your leisure time enjoying the whole spectrum of these on offer - and without protest pay your public-contribution share towards it, in the nifty arrangement that's long been devised for financing much of it in your television licence fee.
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    It's the same principle of Community financing of the Arts to give a tiny little slice of the council tax pie to some of the more deserving Community serving, social life enriching, venues, projects, and programmes of performances and activities on offer, run by voluntary syndicates of enthusiasts, to make it all available and accessible to the community.
    If you think all art is a load of bolsh then I guess you don't have a television set, for instance?
    Faculties of The Arts at Universities are not populated by students wielding paintbrushes and poetry anthologies. It would be a dead world and narrow minded Government and life-culture without the vibrancy and contributions to society of either Art or Bachelors of the Arts. It's not all watercolour painting.
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    What I find sad about the cuts here, in this area of expenditure, when I think specifically of places like The Meeting House in Ilminster (which gets funding as a community facility from the District and County councils to help support its existence), is that projects and venues like this one... (by the way: one of the very few things of any value and relevance to, and used at all by, me personally from out of all the Local Authority spending... so further demonstrating the acknowledgement that, Yes, this budget mess and the resulting spending cuts affects us all.. ) ...are not resource-wasting, clinical-type, local-authority-paid officials and administrators being trimmed down, here, but are actually genuine examples of The Big Society in practise, being vapourised - which Big Society ideal is where the Conservative Party sees up heading towards, as being the financial, pragmatic and ethical future.
    Such a bad demonstration of any understanding of or support for it it then, by the local Conservative Party councillors, in this remarkable policy decision; showing themselves as perhaps being out of touch with their own Party leaders, disconnected from its own ideals and visions and policy scope for a future concept of alternative to Big Government/ Big State... for them to dream up a staggering 100% cutting of its Arts budget (unprecedented anywhere in Great Britain - what a great reputation as cultural heathens Somerset will now have throughout the UK!), opting for the total cessation of any financial grant support for regional cultural arts activities and (..my point..) what little big-society practise already exists (of which model the Gvt. seeks us/them/their councils to support the introducing and emulation of). THAT I find very worrying - that they can be so out of touch with the entire concept of where their own Party in Government is speculating, nationally - to be devolved regionally into local practise - is the way to go.
    I suppose that proposing a 100% blanket-cut to all projects and services was an easier solution for them to agree on among themselves than groaning their heads together to decide on which ones to keep giving to, in the face of these severe financial restrictions, and which to cease giving to. I would propose (for political AND cultural best interests) that any percentage other than one-hundred would have been better for their own credibility AND for the Arts!
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    I hope they're being quite as ruthless in measures to cut the expense of their own burden of cost levied on the tax payer before they cut all other expenditure.
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    I wouldn't accurately describe myself as a left-winger, Rockwell, and one of the many reasons why I think Marxists are so full of bolsh actually is their abhorrence of and attitude towards "Art" and "unproductive leisure pursuits", as seen by Marx as a bourgeois and frivolous innecessity to be replaced entirely by work work work, bleak communist functionalism and no beauty nor pleasure."
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Somerset cuts: Protesters try to save arts, jobs and services

Bridgwater Mercury: Members of Unison at this morning's demo Members of Unison at this morning's demo

ABOUT 200 protesters gathered in Taunton this morning to lobby against cuts to jobs, arts and other services across Somerset.

They were demonstrating outside Somerset College where Somerset County Council’s Cabinet committee has embarked on a meeting that will bring sweeping cuts – reported on this website over the last 10 days - a step closer.

The majority of the protesters were from the county’s arts groups with representatives from organisations including TakeArt, the Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton, and Somerset Film, based in Bridgwater.

The county council is planning to pull all its arts funding, a move that many fear will prompt other funding organisations – most notably the Government’s Arts Council – to follow suit.

The protesters had made a symbolic cake saying they only wanted a small slice of funding but they were unable to present it to council leader Ken Maddock before the meeting.

At the demonstration, Phil Shepherd, of Somerset Film, said: “I am here because I think the council is about to make a very bad decision.

“I am very concerned about how the risk assessment has taken place. We were negotiating a cut of 26% over three years but now they are cutting 100% in one year.

“A teacher said to me over the weekend, ‘the less art a child gets, the more it shows.’ Art is not just a leisure option – it is part of the fundamentals of life.”

Robert Miles, director of the Brewhouse, said: “We are trying to make the point to the Cabinet that the 0.0004% of the budget that they spend on the arts has huge leverage. It makes a real difference to people’s lives and is huge driver for the county.

“We understand cuts need to be made and the arts will do their bit but this 100% cut is just shocking and short sighted.”

The said the Brewhouse had been working with the Arts Council to secure a better funding package for the county, arguing that Somerset gets the least per head of any South-West county.

“Talks have been really positive because the Arts Council recognises the lack of investment. For Somerset County Council to send this out a message that Somerset doesn’t care about culture is dangerous in terms of attracting other national funding.”

Pauline Homeshaw, director of the 10 Parishes festival, centred around Wiveliscombe was also among the demonstrators.

The festival does not receive any funding from the county council but she said: “I’m here for the bigger picture. What the cuts say to the other funders is ‘our county doesn’t care about the arts’ – it’s just so wrong.”

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