Monday, February 21, 2011

'How to do a Bail-In' connects video art and arts funding

You may have noticed that rather a lot of the most unlikely people have been demonstrating and protesting of late - with some fairly significant results.

Here in the UK, it's been a slightly quieter affair - but points are being made nonetheless.

In the age of video as art installation, I was wondering whether any of you fancy seeing a nice bit of video as art making a point - plus a nice civilised demo against the funding cuts for services likes the arts?

You've heard about why we got into the financial mess - bailing out the banks who had acted irresponsibly towards people who could not afford debt. 

Well below you can find "The Art of How to Do a Bail-in" - which effectively closed branches of Barclays Bank on Saturday.  That's the bank which made £11.6bn of profits but paid only £113m in UK corporation tax in 2009 .  Although it was able to afford to pay £1.5bn in bonuses.
Big Society Bailed-In to branches up and down the country, transforming them into libraries, comedy venues, children’s breakfast clubs, a crèche and even a bus route

Next week I understand it's the turn of RBS/Natwest

I don't normally do political type stances on this blog.

However I don't think this is political.  It's just ordinary citizens saying that they refuse to pay for the fact the banks got themselves in a mess - and that the taxation regime needs a complete rethink.  Plus irrespective of whichever political party was in power right now, funding for the arts would be being cut - because the government supported the banks when they were about to fall over and they now need to address the budget deficit.

Let's just remind ourselves that:
  • nationally government funding for the arts in the UK is currently being cut by about 30%
  • at a local level, this week most Councils in the UK will be setting their council tax charge.  You should expect to find funding for  arts groups in your area dramatically reduced - probably by more than 30% as it's a discretionary service
North Yorkshire County Council has cut its arts budget by almost 80%

Arts groups in Somerset face a 100% cut to their grants from the local council.
  • and - just in case you think I've strayed too far - don't forget banks sponsor a lot of arts events.  Let's just make sure they are the ones which pay rather than avoid tax and/or they pay more if their aim is to sanitise their reputations! 
I must confess I have become ever so slightly enamoured of late with the idea of peaceful mass action  by people who are not affiliated to any political party.

Ever since I became one of the half a million people in the UK who recently signed an online petition targeted at getting the government to think again about the idea of selling off our national forests to commercial enterprises.

The government did a U turn on that one last week - all due to the public outcry about the proposal!

PS  US Uncut comes to the USA this week - starting February 26th.  Are your arts groups having their funding cut?
According to this study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations that operate in the US exploit corporate tax havens. Since 2009, America’s most profitable companies such as ExxonMobil, General Electric, Bank of America and Citigroup all paid a grand total of $0 in federal income taxes to Uncle Sam.

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