Spendthrifts

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spendthrifts

This week the British government – which is now borrowing upwards of £20m per hour just to pay its bills – decided to splash some cash on the arts world.

According to the BBC, it will provide £45m to fund a National Film Centre, which will house the British Film Institute (clearly their existing offices will no longer do), host key film events (because obviously London lacks appropriate venues), and contain 5 digital cinemas (something the private sector plainly doesn't provide). Then there's £50m for an 11-storey extension to the Tate Modern, another £22.5m to expand the British Museum, and £10m for a new visitors' centre at Stonehenge.

Frankly, it beggars belief that the government can claim that they are cutting public spending to the bone, that any cuts beyond the pathetic ones they've planned will result in abject destitution, and that anyone who suggests such a thing must be an evil, heartless brute, while simultaneously lavishing £127.5m that they don't have on vanity projects that we don't need.

Couldn't the British film industry pay for a national film centre if they really wanted one? Couldn't the Tate Modern just build a more modest extension with the £75m they've already raised privately? If the British Museum is running out of space, couldn't it loan some of its exhibits to other museums? And as for Stonehenge, does a mysterious pile of rocks next to a dual carriageway really warrant a £10m visitors centre?

Spending taxpayers' money on 'arts and culture' is questionable at the best of times. When you already have the biggest budget deficit in the developed world, it is nigh-on indefensible.