April 03, 2011

General Musings For The Week 3rd April 2011

So it's the beginning of April already. The year is flying by!

Happy Mother's Day to a) My mother and b) All mothers reading this (Especially if you're in England as today is Mother's Day here)

As you read this I should be ensconsed in an editing suite (well somebody's front room) with a Macbook, Final Cut Pro and a couple of hours of footage trying to fashion a film out of it all.

I've managed to land a gig as the director on a Sci-Fi 48 hour film.  The idea is simple: At 10am on Saturday we receive a title, a line of dialogue, a genre and a prop from the organisers. 48 hours later we have to hand in a completed short movie which is in the specified genre, has the title, the prop and the line of dialogue included.

It's a really exciting event and I have a great team of people working with me. Most of them I met while doing other movies but some of them I actually met for the first time last week at a get together meeting. We've spent the last 10 days frantically trying to get together a location, some actors, props and costumes to make this as good as it can be.  Our Title is '27 Arbour Street', the prop is a circuit board and the line of dialogue is 'He was bald and she was like a bloody parrot on her shoulder'. More next week.

One big topic of conversation in the papers this week was the Arts Council cuts in England. The Arts Council is a government body that gives monetary funding to arts projects across the country. This enables things such as dance, theatre and visual arts to reach a wider audience.

In the recent cuts 205 organisations had their grants for the coming fiscal year removed completely. Some organisations have lost as much as a quarter of a million pounds sterling. This - obviously - is a tragedy for the arts. But it’s more than that. It’s a tragedy for common sense. Here’s why:

The budget of the Arts Council is £310.5M (source: The Guardian). It is up to the Arts Council to determine who gets how much. At the moment there are many hundreds of organisations vying for the cash. Recent government funding cuts have meant the Arts Council has had to slice the amount of money it can spend on the arts. This has been their solution.

But looking at the figures reveals a slightly different picture. Data revealed by the Arts Council show a disturbing lack of consistency when determining cuts.

For a start not every organisation has had their funding cut. Certain groups have actually had an increase in the amount available to them - and quite a sizeable one too. But what does stand out to me is the sizeable funding that goes to Opera.

I’m not a big fan of Opera - in fact I can’t stand it. But I do believe that Opera should be subject to the same funding criteria and opportunities as other sections of the arts. Which is why I was absolutely amazed to find out that the two of the four largest recipients of Arts Councils grants are The English National Opera and The Royal Opera House which, between them, take over £43m of the total funding. This doesn’t include such esoteric outfits as the Glyndebourne Touring Opera and The Welsh National Opera which account for another couple of million. At the opposite end of the scale there is the Open Art organisation in my home town which has had it’s funding cut from £22k to zero.

So on the one hand you have many worthy organisations losing money completely and on the other you have a select few organisations receiving huge percentages of the total Arts Council pie. My question is this: If cuts are needed, why not make a blanket cut across all organisations? Why cut some (smaller) funds totally and still allocate a huge percentage of your total money to two esoteric and elitist organisations?

In environmental news today. Rolls Royce has produced an experimental electrical car. It looks like a regular Phantom, drives like a regular Phantom and sounds like a regular Phantom (form the inside at least) but it is powered by the largest electric motor ever to be put into a car and could cost up to 100% more than the regular version. That rounds out at £600,000 for a car. Of course there are folks who will buy it - probably to add to their collection of existing Rolls Royces - but the company isn’t sure how many. That’s why they’re letting 500 existing owners drive this over the next few months.

If the EU succeeds in removing all combustion engine cars from our city centres as it is proposing, then the electric Rolls Royce may yet win the day.

Video of the week is another internet viral. This time it’s the two twin babies having a conversation with each other. You’ve gotta smile!

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