Food for the Mind

pile of second hand booksHow urgent is food for the mind? Keeping the brain alive is as important as sustaining the body. This has been recognised by a new charity, Bookbanks, which runs alongside food banks to allow people to pick up a paperback or two as they receive their vegetables and tins.

The advantages are not just in giving people access to books and reading, but also in creating a sense of community in the opportunities for the sharing of ideas. Like a food bank, anyone in need has access, so it is a particularly important idea for children who might not have books.

Now bookshops, publishers and the Arts Council are supporting the project and the hope is that it will be able to expand to serve more people in more places. Read about it here.

Arts Funding

When theatre tickets can cost £100 and upwards, it is clear that many people are automatically priced out of artistic and cultural events. That is why arts subsidies are so important – to allow everyone a chance to see an exhibition, enjoy a performance, hear a concert.

town museum signYet repeatedly over the last year or so we have heard of town and city councils slashing their arts budgets. Birmingham is planning to reduce spending to zero, Suffolk is risking the survival of its museums with a £500K reduction to the arts budget, and so on. On a national scale, the Arts Council has had its budget cut by 30% over the last decade.

As the UK approaches a General Election, the main parties have been saying much the same thing about the limits on public money, so it is unlikely that there will be much change whichever party winds power. Yet the situation impoverishes us all and is particularly devastating on those with lower incomes.

Two of our most recognisable actors, Imelda Staunton and Olivia Coleman, have therefore called on all political parties to commit to increased funding for the arts, which has fallen by 16% just in the last five years.

As Imelda Staunton says in this article:

I want to see all parties promising much more on the arts. They are not just a ‘nice to have’, they are essential to the thriving, confident country we all want to live in.