Uncultured Austerity

VITORIA-GASTEIZ – Culture is the silent victim of the euro crisis. Last month, the Portuguese government announced the definitive closure of 38 cultural and social foundations and 100% cuts in the funding of 14 more.

Likewise, the Spanish government has reduced public funds allocated to cultural organizations by 70% in the last three years. Despite State Secretary of Culture José María Lassalle’s previous affirmation that culture is “neither a luxury nor a caprice,” the new budget of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government did not spare the hallmark Prado Museum, the Institute of Cinematography, or even the Network of Public Libraries, which will receive no money for new books next year.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, arts funding has been slashed by 25%. And Italy’s La Scala opera house faces a $9 million shortfall, owing to reductions in subsidies.

Such decisions rest on the premise that culture is nothing but superfluous entertainment. After all, who needs circuses when there is no bread?