This is the latest work produced for the Save the Arts campaign, this time by Cornelia Parker, featuring Anthony Gormley’s Angel of the North missing a wing…
It’s a graphic way of representing the proposed 40% cuts to arts funding that have been proposed. The caption also plays on the idea; the arts in Britain are at an all-time high, and cutting funding will cost more in the long-run.
But I think the Angel of the North is a really interesting symbol for Parker to have chosen. I remember when the Angel was first put up – lots of people didn’t get it (I was one of them). This is exactly the kind of project people have in mind when they think about how public money is spent on the arts. Some people would probably look at this picture and shrug – who cares if it loses a wing.
The Angel of the North divided opinion, and so will these cuts. But the Angel represents more than just a few tonnes of rusting steel. Do you really want to live in a Britain where the Angel of the North couldn’t have been built, whatever you think of it? Where people from all walks of life have access to the mind-broadening world of the arts? Where arts projects in deprived communities would have to be scrapped? And where freedom of expression is fine as long as you can pay for it yourself? You might not like the Angel of the North, but you probably like the Britain where it stands.
Another development came this week as Nick Serota, the Director of Tate, added his voice to the campaign. He likened the strategy to a “blitzkrieg” and reminded the Government of previous commitments to seeing the arts flourish. Serota’s comments represents a significant shift in the conversation, as a subsequent Guardian feature pointed out.