Yesterday @ace_national launched their new Momentum Fund for artists and bands – gaining national coverage across the UK media.
Last year I’d been at the #soundexchange conference where Ben Lane (ACE) introduced some of the ideas behind what would become Momentum. You can listen to a quick interview I did with him here:-
The announcement has not met with universal acclaim. Last night singer and broadcaster @CerysMatthews tweeted ‘Name me a funded artist that has rocked the world’. Some of the suggestions were amusing (God, for example, to which Mike Batt replied ‘I’m here’). Others pointed to the historic (state funded composers) whilst in the modern age several people pointed to Adele – who received early support from the BBC Performing Arts Fund and (like many others) attended the Brit School
Needless to say I waded in with my two left feet and size 11’s and a perspective which is more theatre leaning than music. In what art form (I ranted) and where do you start. In theatre huge hits likes Billy Elliot, Matilda and Les Mis would never have happened / How many venues that artists play receive support? / my point the arts are a complicated ecology – strip away training and early opportunity and we harm the culture of tomorrow.
Cerys was quick to qualify – ‘funding platforms, festivals and arts centres is one thing which I agree with – but not individuals’
By now (and probably unwisely) I’d brought in the idea of the ‘ghost artist’ which I’d first heard @lyngardner talk about at #shifthappens (read the blog here) where she argues for a shift away from investment in major institutions and towards the grass roots.
Back again came Cerys ‘money is better spent making sure all children get a wide and deep education. A great education for everyone is empowering – hand our are opposite. Stopping piracy would help musicians more, not encouraging hand outs’ (easily said, harder to do in the digital age as we all know)
That was the cue for @juliaatthehub to join the debate – ‘promoters and venues are key – support them and you help artists build a fan base, a career and hone skills. Exactly replied Cerys
In the end did we answer Cerys original question – to be fair I think not. Did we all agree whether Momentum is a hand out or key intervention to sustain a vital UK industry? No – not really – and I guess time will only tell. One thing everyone involved in the mini debate agreed on was was the vital importance to the creative industries of ‘a wide and deep education’. Michael Gove please take note.