Principal fights cuts to arts
Posted on 15/10/2010
Professor Rick Trainor
The Principal, Professor Rick Trainor, has warned against possible government cuts to arts and humanities at a debate at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, the biggest literary festival in the world. Professor Trainor was speaking in a panel debate chaired by Sky News Political Editor and College Council member Adam Boulton, alongside The Guardian’s Chief Arts Writer Charlotte Higgins and Wasfi Kani of Grange Park Opera (David Willetts – Minister of State for Universities and Science - was scheduled to appear, but was prevented from doing so by Parliamentary business).
The event centred on the question, ‘In a climate of universal cuts, what does the future hold for Higher Education and the arts in Britain, and can creative solutions be found?’
In a wide-ranging, well-attended, and lively debate, the panellists agreed that any large-scale cuts would have serious economic repercussions for the UK, and that, although not all arts funding deserved protection from cuts, education was a ‘special case’ that was essential to preserve the country’s considerable global standing in the arts.
Professor Trainor emphasised several points in the discussion:
• The rumoured end of subsidies in university teaching in all non-STEM (science, technology and mathematics) subjects would have serious implications for arts and humanities education, and could threaten collaborations with arts institutions. Examples of existing good practice in this area include the College’s work with the Globe Theatre, Tate, British Library, British Museum and National Gallery.
• Nevertheless, in the face of cuts, collaboration between the arts and HE must be the best way of meeting the challenges ahead. The Opera Group’s ‘The Lion’s Face’ (which is about Alzheimer’s), developed with the Institute of Psychiatry, is a good example of such collaboration.
• The arts make a huge, underappreciated contribution to the economy – around eight per cent of GDP, which includes, for instance, the income from overseas students, whose numbers have risen especially fast in non-STEM subjects.
• Current proposals would make it more difficult to attract cultural ‘stars’ from abroad which would be very undesirable for universities and arts institutions alike.
King’s is the academic partner of the Cheltenham Festivals (Science, Music, Jazz and Literature). The Cheltenham Festival of Literature runs from 8-17 October, and has sold well over 100, 000 tickets to its events this year.
Audio excerpts from the event are expected to be available in due course at http://cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature-2010/testing-times-wasfi-kani-and-rick-trainor/
Notes to editors
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