65daysofstatic query UK arts funding claims

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65daysofstatic have queried the claims of a government scheme that gave them cash to advance their career.

And while they’re grateful for the financial boost, the Sheffield outfit say it doesn’t prove that British authorities are genuinely supporting the arts – and they claim the opposite is true.

They’re one of 19 acts to have benefitted from a programme called the Music Export Growth Scheme, which pays up to £15,000 with the aim of developing artist profiles overseas. MEGS is said to generate £8.50 for every £1 it spends, and offiicals say grants are to be matched with an equal amount from each artist’s label.

65days say in a blog post: “This is a good thing for us. It’s appreciated and will be put to good use.”

But they continue: “Arts-based public spending is so often justified as being ‘good for the British economy.’ This entirely misses the point of why we need to support arts and creativity in the first place.

“Discussing the point of why we should support arts is kind of out of the scope of this text, but the ‘too-long-didn’t-read’ would be something like: ‘The world is ending. We’re gonna need some imaginative minds to be able to think our way out of extinction.

“The press release mentions that this public funding will be matched by the music companies. This is the first we’ve heard. Either this is accurate, which seems unlikely because if any of the companies we work with were giving us money for nothing, they’ve have told us about it.

“On the other hand, it could be that the idea is that companies match the figure but it’s added to the band’s recoup. This also seems unlikely as it would mean, on paper, if it’s the artist that’s required to match the funding, they’re actually not getting any help at all.

“Unlikely – but this is the music industry we’re talking about.”

The band suggest that the government’s release is designed to avoid criticism for funding the arts. “The third option is this ‘matching’ is entirely fabricated. Somebody somewhere is so scared of the Daily Mail or whoever that they literally invented non-existent extra funds to give the illusion of an industry that’s in rude capitalist health.”

65days also reject the suggestion that part of the agreement includes their participation in “writing camps overseas to help boost revenues that come from publishing and sync deals.”

They say: “If they think they’re gonna get 65 to attend they’ve got another thing coming. How patronising and wrong-brained this patronage is, whereby acts are given songwriting classes about how to better grow and focus their ‘product’ in order to help grow the British economy.

“Who thinks like this? Probably Mumford & Sons – in fact, they probably run the writing camps on the grounds of their LA mansions or something.”

They’re planning to use their funding to help cover the costs of a US tour, but say it currently looks unlikely to turn a profit.

And they add: “The point here is absolutely not to complain that we as a band are not getting paid – simply to point out that it is not accurate for this kind of funding to be held up as evidence of a government who is supporting the arts in this country when, in actual fact, they are destroying the conditions where it can even survive, never mind thrive.”

65daysofstatic play this year’s ArcTanGent festival on August 20.