Installed in Tate Britain’s Historic Collection Room, this piece retells the history of UK government spending on the arts from the birth of the ‘Council for the Encouragement of Music & the Arts’ in 1940, right up to the present day climate of cutbacks.
The Redistribution of Wealth was researched and developed specially for the ‘Acts of Legacy’ event at Late at Tate Britain on 5 October 2012.
In the apt surroundings of Tate Britain’s Historic Collection Room, the piece retells the history of UK government spending on the arts from the birth of the ‘Council for the Encouragement of Music & the Arts’ in 1940, right up to the present day climate of cutbacks.
Three small stages (loosely inspired by Félix González-Torres’s Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) from 1991) are installed in the gallery space. Representing England, Scotland and Wales respectively, they vary in scale to reflect the current total population of each of these constituent countries of Great Britain.
As a simple onscreen display scrolls methodically through the dates 1940 – 2012, the ‘spotlight’ illuminating each stage grows and shrinks in proportion to its country’s annual Grant-in-Aid for the arts (as a percentage of total UK government spending), and changes colour to reflect the political party controlling this at the time.
- Blue = Conservative / Conservative led coalition
- Red = Labour
- Yellow = Scottish National Party
- Pink = Proceeds from the National Lottery
A pattern of gradually increasing expenditure unfolds, until we reach the last six years. Tracking the formation and devolution of the different Arts Councils (and the impact of the National Lottery since 1994) as well as the shift of power to Scotland and Wales since 1999, The Redistribution of Wealth attempts to visualise the value that successive governments have chosen to place on Arts and Culture within society.
Accompanied by a special playlist of music surveying the same historical period created by artist Barby Asante, visitors are invited to use the gallery as a social space and to get up and dance on the three stages.