Editorial: arts should be about people, not income

The arts should always be about the people, rather than the ego or the income involved, says Maria Roberts. 

It’s great that we’re seeing evidence of this mentality at both an organisational and artist level. In Belfast, a festival is bringing more international artists and audiences to the Northern Irish city. The Belfast Festival at Queen’s (pictured) has used a European grant to collaborate with organisations such as Institut Ramon Llull in Catalonia, and will bring an eclectic line-up of artists to the city, from Bosnia to Brazil, as well as encourage broader access. ‘Accessibility is a key part of this year’s festival, with 95 per cent of all tickets priced at an affordable GDP16 (€19) or under,’ says festival director Richard Wakely in this issue of IAM. ‘Pricing is important – we’re very aware of the spending constraints of consumers.’

Yet good discounts won’t necessarily lead to increased revenue: at Edinburgh International Festival a total of 158,500 tickets were sold – the highest number for a decade – and yet box office takings took a real blow. Despite an average audience attendance of 80 per cent across performances, the income was GBP2.43m (€2.87m), the lowest figure since 2006.

Of course, the balance sheet is about more than just income. Also in Scotland, a survey of 10,000 people found that 60 per cent were more likely to report good health if they had attended a cultural venue or event in the last 12 months. In a bid to make classical music accessible to more people than ever before, Singapore Chinese Orchestra will hold a ‘mega-concert’ at Singapore’s newly built National Stadium in April 2014.

And over in Brazil (see Diary) Claudia Toni joins composer Paulo Zuben at a ‘Guri’ rehearsal, a music education programme for 15,000 children in São Paulo. The Spotlight this issue falls on David Finckel and Wu Han, who talk about their work ethic. ‘We’d always wanted to be able to do more to contribute to Aspen than just perform lots of concerts,’ says Finckel.

Read the latest issue of IAM here.