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March 26, 2010


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1. I agree with you.

2. Tell me why, as someone who writes, I am not... Wait, I am going to blog about this. I have probably done so before.


It's possibly worth flagging up the fact that Samuel West is (or, at least has been) very active in the Socialist Workers' Party. It's hardly surprising he's taking this line.

Ian Leslie

Oh my God. That explains a LOT. That is brilliant info, thanks.


Very ironic if West is an SWPer, since one of the economic cases for continued arts funding is that modern capitalism needs it: Britain's corporate global competitiveness depends on our world-class marketing and advertising skills, which in turn depend on having access to world-class designers, copywriters, film-makers, actors, set-constructors, musicians, . . . the whole enchilada. There's a good reason that the world's modern art capitals (London, NYC, Tokyo) are also its advertising & marketing capitals.

Samuel West

This is Samuel West. Thanks for the chance to comment. The 'no-brainer' thing was actually a quote I made from an article by Jonathan Holmes in the Guardian last month (http://bit.ly/9j1jc7) which unfortunately the Evening Standard chose not to attribute. But the point of the quotation is not to shock - just to point out to people like the Conservatives, who traditionally are against subsidy, how profitable the arts are, and how good for the books at this belt-tightening time. The arguments are set out more fully in a speech I made to Equity's Theatre Manifesto conference earlier this week (http://bit.ly/bvlH1R if anyone wants to read it). All I'd say here is this: the whole of UK theatre received £54m in subsidy in 2008. It paid back nearly £75m just in VAT in London alone. That's a good return in anyone's book. Why cut it? Cheers.
(Incidentally, I haven't been a member of the SWP since university 25 years ago, and I was never 'very active'; I am a vocal critic of New Labour at times).

Ian Leslie

Hello Samuel. Thanks for visiting Marbury and for taking the time to post a courteous and detailed reply to my post. I'm sorry to hear the Standard made that quote sound like it was yours. Thanks for clearing up the SWP stuff.

I agree with what you say above: that there is a very strong case for subsidy of the arts in this country, and that quite apart from broader social reasons to do so, it includes a strong economic case. The arts "pay back" in taxation on revenue, as you say, and - just as importantly, if not more so - attract talent from around the world to live and work here and pay taxes and help the economy grow (that even goes for bankers).

In my post I was drawing attention to the absurd suggestion - in what I now see are the words of J. Holmes - that if arts spending is cut, it's because pols want to censor free speech. I think that's just silly, deeply misguided, and counter-productive because undermining of a strong case.

(It's not clear to me from your note above whether you agree with JH on that point - though you seem to hint at something like it in your speech to Equity:"Governments of any colour are rightly frightened of the ability of performers to make a fuss. We can be very loud, with a size and volume hugely bigger than the amount of subsidy it takes to shut us up". Hmm.)

Regardless, it seems we are, happily, in full agreement on the main point.

Let me end by congratulating you on a great performance in a superb production (if you're in London do go and see ENRON).

Ian Leslie

I've just realised that my closing comment looks like I'm suggesting to Samuel he go and see ENRON. Yes, I realise he's probably seen it. And that if he does go and see it he'll be missing out on Sam West's performance, which he's probably heard is pretty good.

I meant you lot, of course.

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