As people descend at 6pm on the Brighton Spiegltent as we approach the midpoint of Brighton Fringe 2019 for a gathering exploring the question “what is to be done about the Arts in Brighton and Hove?” I wonder why we keep asking this question year after year after year.
It could be that there is always something new to be done (well, of course there is in any changing world); yet there is something same-old familiar about this tired old question rooted in local government that makes its own decisions about the arts and culture and either only tokenistically consults on its dreams or consults too late, even afterwards.
Council-bashing is a spectator sport, and partly justified. Lack of funding for the arts generally means that it is unsustainable for most people and here at the Brighton Fringe (Possibly to be the UK’s largest arts festival if Scotland gets independence), and the pisspoor commecial sponsorship model (A game of thrones) means everyone pays to play.
Sponsorship of the arts in Brighton, where the level of sponsorship gets close to actually allowing the arts makers to pay themselves proper wages, tends to be mealy-mouthed, manipulative and controlling. It is a far cry from no-strings-attached patronage and there is very little of it from corporations who make billions and for whom a million is tax-offsettable small change.
So, what is to be done? We need a sea-change that might be similar to the current environmental movements such as Extinction Rebellion. Art is as vital to our health and progress as clean air or access to water. We have marginalised it, a luxury we can only afford in good times, and prioritised entertainment.
I look forward to tonight’s conversation and will do all I can to make sure it is fresh.