This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

The last days of Cool Britannia?


This week on our Karr on Culture podcast: Will steep cuts to arts funding leave British culture reeling — or help usher in a new age of creativity?

Britain’s creative class has had it pretty good over the past few decades: government arts subsidies have built (and rebuilt) theaters, concert halls, and galleries. Subsidies to theatre and film organizations may have helped an estimated 80,000 Brits land jobs in Hollywood, where many play leading roles and bring home major awards. But now, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is threatening to slash arts subsidies by 40 percent. Martin Smith, former head of the Young Vic Theatre, worries that cuts of that order of magnitude would devastate artistic innovation. The Government hopes that donations from individuals and the corporate sector will make up some of the difference. But this summer, museums in London have been the targets of regular protests against one of Britain’s largest patrons of the arts, BP. Activist Kevin Smith of the anti-oil group Platform says cultural organizations should wean themselves from petroleum industry support. Not everyone things the situation’s bleak, though: London-based artist Alana Jelinek, who’s also done scholarly research into the effects of arts funding, says that art history demonstrates that tough financial times can lead to a boom in creativity. “I’m actually looking forward to the art we’ll see,” she says.



  • Anonymous

    Being a Brit living outside dear old blighty may I proffer a comment.
    Britain has periodically been very “Cool” for all sorts of reasons. Beatle mania and music in the 60″s etc.
    However in general terms it is a very staid and stodgy place.
    For all sorts of reasons Britain has a cultural heritage, a theatrical heritage ,a history unmatched anywhere in the world, in the last 400 Years anywhere ,up and down, good and bad!! It has been overtaken politically, and militarily compared with past times and also on the international influence stage,but remains that staid, stodgy, steadying influence that is a true charachteristic of the average Brit whatever that might be… who loves a good play, delights in relics, and the past, and will forever, love and pay for them all and the artists will thrive on the difficulty .
    Remember that the nation was once told what it may not have known that:-
    Never in the history British nation has so much been owed by so many to so few!
    In this case Art will survive its ” darkest hour”