Just not for pop bands, eh?

We’ve a demand that we should be subsidising pop music in the same manner that we do opera and the like. Something more than a little ridiculous given that pop music is meant to be commercial – the clue’s rather in the name there, popular. Thus, if you’re making something which is meant to be popular and you can’t snare a shilling or two while doing so then you shouldn’t be doing it at all, should you? Your production is, you know, unpopular therefore bad by the standards of this genre?

The Arts Council is spending too much money on “posh” opera and giving other music genres a raw deal, a leading figure in the British music industry has claimed.

For every £1 awarded to pop music, £8 goes to opera companies – a situation that is “manifestly unjust” according to UK Music, the umbrella organisation that represents the commercial music industry.

Michael Dugher, the former Labour MP and chief executive of UK Music, complained that the Arts Council risks being seen as “too posh for pop” and called for an urgent review of funding arrangements.

There’s an amusement that opera etc were in fact the popular musics of their day but that’s another matter. Now they’re determinedly uncommercial and thus exist only with that subsidy arrangement. Sure, it’s correct that we should abolish the entire system and if the toffs want their arias then they can pay for them themselves. But subsidising today’s avowed pop music would be ludicrous. The very fact that it needs subsidy would show that it’s bad pop music.

Besides, everyone knows that pop band subsidy belongs in the aid development budget, not the arts one.

Subscribe to The CT Mailer!

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
5 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
BongoRhoda KlappSouthernerSpikeHallowed Be Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be

“subsidising today’s avowed pop music would be ludicrous” Not from the point of view of where the money came from and where it goes to. Subsidising opera and not pop is only absurd in the preserving an endangered species sense. Redistributive-wise or arguably even tax/benefit neutral, it’s the other way round.

And in any case subsidies are questionable. When all your opera has been kept and displayed in subsidised zoos for decades its hard to know whether wild opera would thrive or die.


Yes, zero out all subsidies; any scheme of deciding between the genres necessarily implies a value judgement, especially against garage bands not big enough to reorient themselves to writing grant proposals.


It’s not as though the skills would be forgotten and lost forever. That’s what Am Dram is there for.

Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp

Opera is indeed corrupted by being subsidised. All subsidy is wrong., Open-ended subsidy is a conspiracy against the public. Cut Opera loose. It’ll be OK, in possibly a reduced form.


I looked at the annual report for the Theatre Royal in Newcastle whose government funding has been cut to zero. Yes, nada. “Box Office £13,820,266,Funding £0,Other trading income £1,283,897,Other income £907,540” Expenditure was £15,386,745 so there was a small surplus, for which there are investment plans. Highlights of the report say “Attendances have been very good – over 378,000 people at the Theatre Royal, an astonishing 81.6% of capacity (some 20% above the national average), ” and further on it says “there were 399 performances on the Theatre Royal main stage. We also presented another blockbuster pantomime that (yet again!)… Read more »