Friday, 11 April 2014

More uncultured Culture Ministers ?

 A Minister for Culture doesn't have to know much about the arts, but his/her brief is not to destroy.  The newly appointed Minister for Culture, Sajid Javid, apparently said in 2011 "Ticket resellers act like classic entrepreneurs, because they fill a gap in the market that they have identified." This is an extremely sensitive issue in the arts world. Any competent business person knows that you can't shoot off without knowing the terrain. You check out the ground first. I don't think Javid is stupid. Let's hope he's learned.

One of Alex Beard's earliest pronouncements since he took up his post as head of the Royal Opera House was to address the long standing problem of ticket touts. "Being complicit in ticket touting should be illegal, (he) has argued, as he admits it is “desperately unfair” on would-be audience members but so far “impossible” to prevent.... (nobody) “come up with a silver bullet” to solve the problem of touting.He has now argued for the “straightforward” method of making “it illegal to be complicit in the sale of invalid tickets”.(source here)

"The frustrating thing in our case is that it tends to be the cheaper seats and it tends to be an extraordinary mark-up, effectively misselling,” he said.“That damages two things. Firstly the quality of the poor people who have bought it, because the tickets themselves are not valid. And two, it means fewer people are able to get cheap seats to the Opera House.”He added it is “just at the moment impossible” to stop resellers from plying their trade.“The ones that are being touted tend to be the five and ten pound tickets, which are presented on these resale website as though they’re the top priced tickets,” he said.“It’s desperately unfair, both to the people who have bought these invalid tickets because they won’t be able to get entry into the opera house, and for the people who otherwise would have been able to purchase them.”“People have been wrestling with this issue now for decades, and nobody has come up with the perfect silver bullet, as it were, to take the touts out of business." 

It's not just the ROH. The BBC Proms have the same problem. These sales have nothing to do with promoting the arts, because they bring in punters with more money than taste or basic common sense. Sure, people miss out when tickets sell out quickly, but it's the touts who create the situation in the first place. Eliminate them, eliminate the problem. 

Government exists (in theory) to keep things in relative balance. If governments believe in unalloyed greed, what's the point ? Do MP's who think the system exists so they can fiddle expenses going to stand up to pressure from commercial inducements. Conflict of interest - and the "C" word that eats away at Parliamentary ethics like a cancer.

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