“Opera is often derided as elitist”

There was a leader article, “Opera is often derided as elitist”, in the Guardian on the 28th September 2017. Regrettably the article ignores the fact that opera in the UK receives a disproportionate amount of public subsidy compared to other art forms and like the banks are too big to fail. In a time of austerity there are two opera houses cheeks by jowl in London soaking up substantial amounts of public funding. If politicians allowed two Accident and Emergency units to operate in the same way they would be publicly derided.

The Arts Councils funding decisions are based on the bounded rationality of the past. The lack of art form polices guiding funding decisions has bedevilled the arts in England since the instigation of the National Portfolio bidding process in 2012.

The National Portfolio scheme was an abrogation of the Arts Council’s duty to ensure funding by art form on an equitable basis. The result of this flawed process is that in 2018/19, Opera will receive a total of £57.1 million of which 32.5% will be spent outside of London. Classical music will receive £19 million of which 55% is allocated to the English regions and jazz will receive a total of £1.6 million of which 30% is spent outside of London. For the avoidance of doubt 3.4 million people attend classical music concerts, 2.1 million people attend jazz concerts and 1.7 million people attend opera.