BBC aiming to put arts in mainstream

A friend recently linked to this article, BBC aiming to put arts in mainstream, commenting “Oh I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!!!” From a national perspective, it’s got to be time to rejoice, that’s for sure!

Personally, I’m delighted to hear that the arts will get more prominence on prime-time media. The BBC said: “The arts have been central to the BBC’s past and are central to its future. As all arts organisations face the challenge of delivering more in a tight economic climate, it is vital that we work together in new ways to create a bigger and better offer to the public.”

Tony Hall

The BBC’s Director General is a man called Tony Hall, and I take comfort in the fact that, according to his biog. on the BBC website, Hall comes from a background in arts management (previously having held the position of chief executive at the Royal Opera House for 12 years before joining the BBC in his current role) is passionate about education and skills within the cultural industries, and wants to return the arts to the corporation’s “heart”.

I just wish that Editors-in-Chief in the local media were taking the arts equally as seriously. Despite contributing to local arts coverage myself, it astounds me just how few column inches are dedicated to the arts in local media. It seems to me essential that the general public understands the value of the arts to the UK economy and, more holistically, to the general well-being and development of society. Equally, and at a time when regional funding in the arts is being questioned, it’s important for people to know and understand how and why government funding (tax-payers’ money) is being allocated locally across the arts. Such spending ought to receive the same platform as spending on health facilities, pot-holes, land development plans and the like, as it stands it’s frequently sad to see arts coverage dropping down the priority list, if it manages to stay on the list at all.

Of course, I understand that it’s increasingly difficult for independent media bodies to sell advertising to pay for the paper that news is printed on at a time when there is less money in marketing pots for promotional activity… and it must be difficult to justify advertising charges when circulation is dropping as people are consuming more news online. It’s catch 22, but surely this is were content becomes increasingly important. Give people what they want – the basic principle of supply and demand. Hopefully Tony Hall’s plan to redress this dangerous imbalance will put the arts back on its rightful pedestal, and regional media will fall in line accordingly. My fingers remain tightly crossed, my eyes and ears firmly fixed on the BBC, my small change spent on regional newspapers and magazines, and my heart full of hope that regional Editors in Chief will wake up to the realisation that there is a ferocious appetite for local arts coverage.