Saturday, 12 January 2008

British Council Furore

Union JackOn Thursday the actors union Equity passed a motion of no confidence in Arts Council England (CLICK). Today 100 big guns in the UK arts scene put their names to a letter to The Guardian newspaper condemning British Council's proposal to slash its visual arts department. It was not a happy ship, tra-la-la. If you look at the signatories (CLICK) you'll spot a lot of piffle peddlers from the Brit. Anti-art Establishment. Could it be that the British Council has realised that UK art has become an international joke, thanks to the mindless dross promoted by the Anti-art Establishment?


At 13/1/08, Blogger Eric Dickens said...

I am fascinated by two different letters of protest that have been doing the rounds:

a) The online petition signed by 1,067 people from many countries, including authors, translators, academics and publishers, berating the Arts Council of England for pulling the rug from under Dedalus Ltd., a small but worthwhile literary publishing house in Cambridgeshire, specialising in translations.


b) The letter in the Guardian signed by around 100 worthies who are already rich, privileged and very visible, and who appear to have been relying on the British Council to get them to the Venice Biennale and similar events, year after year, and may now not be getting such a good deal.

For someone like myself who has spent some 35 years learning the ins and outs of several languages, and who translate 300-page novels at the gross rate of £85 per 1,000 words translated, I feel that the former petition, which I myself have signed, is an expression of solidarity with the underdog. The latter, on the other hand, is a shriek of fear by those who know in their hearts that one day the tide will turn, and that the little boy in the Hans Andersen tale "The Emperor's New Clothes" will come and visit their exhibitions and expose them for what they are.

I note the names of three "artists" that crop up in the latter petition: Tracey "The Bed" Emin, Mark "The Bear Suit" Wallinger, and Damien "The Skull" Hirst; the last of these does a lucrative sideline in getting people to catch sharks for him, and selling them on for 12 million quid. For one million of those pounds, a literary translator like me would be set up for life. I would at least have the choice of translating some 15-20 good novels at leisure, or drinking myself to death to kill the pain of being ignored by British publishers...

Dedalus Ltd. in Sawtry, Cambridgeshire, produces books about decadence; some aspects of the British arts scene today are truly decadent. I note Don Thompson's excellent excerpt in The Independent (Extra) on Friday 11th January 2008 in this regard; and David Lister's article in the main section on that same day, questioning assumptions about the Arts Council.

Kind regards,

Eric Dickens (published translator of 5 literary works since 1995, all translations from the Estonian...)

At 13/1/08, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Hi, Eric

Thanks for your amusing comment. There are quite a lot of us who are waiting for the little boy to pop up at a major contemporary "art" show and ask, "Why is the Emperor in the nude, Mummy?" I would like to think that the British Council has detected that the tide has begun to turn against all this overpriced dross.

A year or so ago BBC News stopped having a separate art news section and now puts all its art stories under "Entertainment". This change didn't attract any complaints from the great and the good in Brit. art, probably because they thought it was an appropriate change! Britney Spears and Mark Wallinger, lump it all together. It's showbiz, folks.

Estonia? I must admit that sounds a loser. I didn't know it published anything other than postage stamps!


Post a Comment

<< Home