A Pontiff Retires

Bill and Hillary were finishing a late breakfast in the sunroom when Bill’s cell phone began playing the theme from Ghostbusters. Bill looked up from his crossword puzzle and smiled. “Man, I love that song.” He did the stir-the-pot dance with his balled fists in front of his chest. “Who ya gonna call?” Hillary rolled her eyes and went back to buttering her toast.

Bill noted that the caller i.d. was blocked, but answered anyway. “Yo! Talk to me.”

“Hello? Is this Mr. Bill Clinton? Um … Mr. President Clinton?”

“Yep, you got the Big Dog. Woof! Who’s this?”  He popped a chunk of cantaloupe in his mouth.

“It’s Pope Benedict. I mean, Joe Ratzinger. The Pope Emeritus.

“Benny! How’s it hanging?”

Hillary looked at Bill quizzically.  He held the phone to his chest and whispered, “It’s Rat Finger.”  She rolled her eyes again and whispered, “If he’s looking for me, I’m not home.”

“Benedicto! Or are you back to using 'Joseph'? How’s retirement treating you? Working hard, or hardly working?”

“You know, I’m able to get more reading done, so that's nice. Watching a little television. I finally get why everyone’s talking about Downton Abbey. There’s this amazing machine that records televised performances so one can watch them whenever one wants. Duh, of course you already know that. You’re a worldly man.” 

“Well I’ve been around the block a few times. Dipped my wick here and there, so to speak. Say, let’s cut to the chase. What can I do you for, your Honorableness?”

“Well that’s just it, Bill. Can I call you Bill? To be honest, I’m bored. The cloistered life is … let’s just say it’s a lot quieter than I expected. Just a week into retirement and I'm all like, 'Dude, you can still make a difference.' I know I still have more to give to the world. I try making suggestions, but those ingrates at the Vatican aren’t calling me back.”

“You’ll get used to it, Benny. Just give yourself a little time.” Bill reached for a piece of bacon and Hillary slapped his hand.

“Well, that’s the thing. I don’t think I have a whole lot of time left. I’m wondering if you might have a small role I can play in your foundation.” Now it was Bill’s turn to roll his eyes. He mimed gagging.

“It’s an interesting idea, Joe.” He caught Hillary’s eye and mouthed, “It’s a terrible idea!”  She just shrugged.

“Look, Broseph, I’d love to hear your thoughts, but you’re starting to break up. Can  you hear me now? I think I have another call coming in. It’s probably Barack. He usually calls about this time.”

 “Mr. President, please. I need just half a minute. Think about what it would mean to have an ex-Pope on the team.” 

“Look, I feel your pain, but here’s the deal: I’m worried about the brand.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ve worked hard to rebuild Brand Clinton. It wasn’t easy at first, but the people love me again. I’m the wise elder statesman now...though between you and me, I’ve still got that ineffable something that the ladies like.”

Hillary glared at Bill, took the pen out of his hand and scribbled on a napkin, “You can ineffable yourself."  Bill winked back at her.

“I’m gonna level with you because that's the least you deserve. You’re smart, and I know you’re a deeply caring man. You worked hard to do right by your organization. I have a lot of respect for the Catholic Church with its rich history and all those freaky saints and saintesses. Crazy stuff! I don’t know how you keep that big hat on your head, but kudos for the bold fashion choices.

"But here’s the deal. You’re kind of a downer. To be blunt, you’re lacking in the charisma department. I don't know if it's the German thing, but you kinda scare people. Then there’s the scandal stuff. Lord knows, I understand scandals. They’re a total drag. One thing I learned, though, is that you can’t just hide stuff under a rug and hope it’ll go away. You’ve gotta grab people by the balls … excuse the language, Padre … you gotta grab them by the lapels and just say, ‘fix it, goddamn it’ … again, I apologize for the language. Bottom line is that I don’t see what you bring to the table.”

“Infallibility?” Ratzinger’s voice sounded small and uncertain.

How's that?”

“I had a run of eight years without making a single mistake. I can bring my experience in being infallible to the organization. That has to count for something.”

“With all due respect, mister ex-Pope, but nobody can go that long without making mistakes.”

“I beg to differ. What part of in-fall-i-ble do you not understand. Plus I can do magic.”

“Magic? What kind?

“Transubstantiation, for one. Can you do that? When was the last time you changed wine into blood?”

“Sounds like a lot of hooey to me. You don't really believe that stuff, do you? You can be honest with me. Now if you could handle snakes, that might something I could use." Bill sighed deeply. "Look, Benedicto, this thing you’re wanting me to do just isn’t going to happen.”

The phone was silent for a long pause before Ratzinger spoke again. “Okay, I get it. I guess I’ll try a different angle. Maybe I should build houses for poor people. I’m not sure I can handle a hammer at my age, but they probably need help with the paperwork. Hey, do you have Jimmy Carter’s number?”

“Sure, I’ve got him on speed dial, but he doesn’t like me giving the number out. I’m happy to let him know want to talk and he can call you if he wants. You know what I would do in the meantime if I were you?  I'd kick back. Take up painting or some other hobby. It seems to be working for George W. Just don't volunteer to be a Boy Scout leader! Kidding! You know I love you, Ratzo."

“Thanks anyway. Say, while I have you on the line, is Hillary there?”

“Sorry, Joe, you just missed her.”

TONIGHT: An event not to be missed.

Recycle, repurpose, whatever. Here's another retread of an old post, updated to reflect current affairs. While many of you will--no doubt--attend tonight's open house at Profile Theatre for the sole purpose of enjoying the Bourbon Jockey Experience (tm), I enumerated other reasons to be there in an earlier post. In short, you will meet the fine folks at Profile, mingle with other theater devotees and practitioners, and learn what fabulous PLAYWRIGHT will be featured in Profile's 2013-14 season. Bring your thirst and an appetite because beer and wine will be available, and Koi Fusion will be on site, purveying delectables.

Ladies and Gentlemen
Aficionados of Fine Music and Satisfying Potables
Members of the Press

Step forward and prepare to be dazzled, stunned and stupefied as The Mighty Toy Cannon and the members of the acclaimed musical ensemble, Bourbon Jockey, regale you with feats of vocal virtuosity and strumming of stringed instruments in a manner most astonishing. Step back, there's no need to push, shove or jostle. Management assures you that there will be plenty of room for all without raising a ruckus.

Should you choose to partake of a Bourbon Jockey performance, you will be transported on a journey down lost highways and dusty byways of America where you will encounter truck drivers, libertine women and deadbeat desperados in the throes of drunken sorrow. Accompanied by the joyous amalgam of melody, harmony and rhythm, you will be besotted by tales of heartbreak and redemption, hope and despair. The bass notes will rumble deep in your bowels whilst the high notes shall pierce the veil of heaven and wrap you as if by the gossamer wings of the very angels themselves.

FEAR NOT brave spectator! The burden of sadness and introspection thus launched in your heart and mind may be soothed by quaffing ales and fermented juices concocted through the alchemical magic of internationally-acclaimed brewmasters and craft artisans, and poured with the steady hand of attentive servers dedicated to ministering to your needs and lubricating your parched throat with AMBROSIA.

How much would you expect to pay for an evening of entertainment that lifts the soul while edifying in such a potent fashion? What price the opportunity to hear stirring tales of sin and transgression without suffering the searing heat of BRIMSTONE upon your own reddened cheeks?

Would you not gladly drop a treasury note adorned with the visage of Andrew Jackson into a collection plate for such a privilege? Would you not swoon upon being informed that the only cost of this extravaganza is the humble sacrifice of a token contribution--that is to say that the entry fee is just one thin dime? Two nickels are enough to swing aside the turnstile and afford you the opportunity to partake in the dulcet tones of this renowned ensemble of chamber players steeped in the vernacular of American music.

Would you not be further stunned to learn that this meager fee --one-tenth of an American dollar!--were to be fully and unconditionally rebated to you immediately, such that the true cost of this once-in-a-lifetime event is NOT A SINGLE PENNY (as long as you fully commit in your heart within the next ten minutes)?

Yes, you have not misheard us, ladies and gentlemen. But let us repeat this message for the weak-minded and slow of hearing: For the price of a small portion of your leisure and sporting time, you can experience one of the most FASCINATING and CURIOUS musical experiences of the year—indeed of your entire lifetime. Many years hence, your great-grandchildren will gather around your deathbed imploring you to sacrifice your FINAL breath to tell them about the night you heard Bourbon Jockey perform at Theater! Theatre! in the waning weeks of the year of Two Aught Twelve, in a celebration of the wondrous theatrical producers, Profile Theatre of Portland in the state of Oregon. Can you fathom the ignomy of admitting to your progeny that you stayed home that evening to watch television?

Don’t take our word for it, heed the insights of others who have bathed in the euphonious river of glorious sound produced by this remarkable conspiracy of musical genius. If you doubt the wisdom of your neighbors and common citizens, listen to what the experts have to say. Ethnomusicologist Humphrey Von Humphrey said this after listening to an acetate recording of Bourbon Jockey:

Their harmonies are wholly unique, not only within our traditional concepts of western music but, verily, to the entirety of world culture. Their choices of harmonic intervals – and their apparent ease in shifting those intervals at a microtonal level from moment-to-moment is astonishing. I can safely say that I’ve never heard anything quite like it. The jarring and unexpected microtonal dissonance carries into their instrumental work as well. I’m telling you that it is physically impossible to get that particular sound unless you intentionally fail to tune your instruments relative to each other. Of course, that would be crazy!

Another thing that intrigues me – perhaps 'baffles' is a better term-- is the band's artistic strategies with regard to shifting rhythmic patterns and its curious selection of tempo changes. As an ensemble, they display an uncanny knack for randomly speeding, then slowing the tempo– sometimes even within the traditional verse/chorus form. It’s simply remarkable that they all manage to end each song at approximately the same time—and here I’m talking about ending within at least two measures of each other. I’m reminded of the keening and wailing that accompanies the funeral rites of some tribal cultures, particularly the Oomaomao people who are, as a race, totally deaf.

In an unpublished review, a noted cultural critic declared, "It's as if T-Bone Walker and Hank Williams had a baby. And that baby was born with withered arms and something wrong with its soft palate and was raised by, gosh I don't know, Patsy Cline. And maybe it has a hugely swollen tongue or something. Oh, and the baby is drunk too. Forget the baby analogy ... it's more like if Howling Wolf and George Jones were arm wrestling while Fats Domino and Fats Waller argued over which one of the two was fatter. Never mind. There's just a lot going on during a Bourbon Jockey concert and these are grown men who should know better."

Important Details:

Profile Theatre Open House
Bonus: Season Playwright Announcement
3430 SE Belmont Street
Monday, December 3, 2012
--starting at 6:00 pm going until they tire--
No Admission Fee, Cover Charge or other Consideration

Free Membership in the Bourbon Dynasty
(the exclusive Fan Club of Bourbon Jockey)

Recommended Dress: Classy Dungarees/Tube Tops

Bourbon Jockey is:

Ross McKeen (aka The Mighty Toy Cannon): Singin’, guitar slingin’ and harmonica blowin'.
Alan Cole (aka The Perfesser): Six string fireworks and harmony yelpin'.
Matthew Jones (aka Mr. Jones): Upright and sideways bass thumpin' and gravitas.

Kid Nathan: Saxophonist Supreme 

Of Your Assistance I Implore (Redux)

I updated a Culture Shock post from wayback times for the purpose of entertainment, and to promote the appearance of Bourbon Jockey at the Profile Theatre open house on Monday, December 3, 2012.

Dearest fellow,

I humbly seek your most urgent attention for a matter of most import. To my attention has come news that a musical group of note by which is known as “Bourbon Jockey” will be performing at your city at the soonest Monday night from this date. It has been my dream of my lifetime to enjoy such musical pleasure in the city of Portland Orgon.

My late-uncle, who was most fortunate to be Minister of Foreign Culture in the nation of Absurdistan before his recent death, wished me to have this absurd pleasure. Having wished that for me and to assure such would take place, he placed a sum of $3,000,000 million US dollars in a secret account. This sum to be used to travel me to listen to your Bourbon Jockey, of which I am biggest fan, on December the 3, 2012 at the occasion of Profile Theatre opening of the house for announcement.

Having demised unfortunately of an accident, my uncle failed to leave instructions regarding the sending of this money to my account for the purpose of hearing Bourbon Jockey. My remaining relatives which are of evil intention have made to block me from my due right to this sum. More so, I am locked in a closet and prevented from all person contact except by the internets.

Of favor to me and in interest of your enjoyment of fine music, I am implore you to visit the Bourbon Jockey performance on December 3. It is of my knowledge that Bourbon Jockey makes western music of roots variety for the enjoyment of the people and the drinking of the beer.

I ask of your assistance to please attend this most important event for to write to me describing its wonders after its completion. This way I will have enjoyment too. Also, it would be of true assistance to also send me your bank account number and all codes which are necessary for making it of access to me.

Sincerely and with honest hope,

Mrs. Martha Kwesi Ubunde


WHEN: Monday, December 3, 2012. From 6:00 to 8:00+

WHY: Profile Theatre Open House/Season Playwright Announcement

WHERE:  3430 SE Belmont Street, Portland OR

HOW: By the plucking of stringed instruments, vocalization and blowing of reeds.


Ross McKeen (aka Mighty Toy Cannon): Vocal, Guitar, Harmonica
Matthew Jones (aka Mr. Jones): Bass
Alan Cole (aka The Perfesser): Guitar and harmony vocals
+ Mystery Guest Saxophonian, Nathan

Top 8 Reasons Everyone Should Attend Profile Theatre's Season Announcement Event

Profile Theatre is holding an Open House at its SE Belmont venue on Monday, December 3, 2012. I'll be there, playing music with Bourbon Jockey.  Here are eight reasons you should join me:

REASON # 1You’ll be one of the first to learn what Profile Theatre has planned for its 2013-14 season.  Remember, when Profile announces a season, it announces the playwright whose writing be explored in depth that year. Want a hint who it’s going to be?  I don’t know. They won’t tell me. It’s like they don’t trust me with information. The suspense is very Christmasy.

You ask, “But, isn’t it a little early to be announcing next year’s season?” Sure, but isn’t knowing something in advance a great comfort in this age of uncertainty?  I'm reminded of the words from one of America’s great poets, Donald Rumsfeld:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

REASON #2: You’ll get to meet Profile’s new artistic director, Adriana Baer.  If you haven’t met Adriana yet, this is your chance to give her a warm Portland welcome. If you’re an actor, you’ll have a chance to demonstrate your wit and your knack for dialects. (Bring your head shot and talk to her in your best Cockney accent. She’ll love it!) When Adriana wins a Tony and/or an Obie, you’ll be able to tell people you knew her when. 

REASON #3: Profile is starting to serve wine and beer at the theater, so you’ll be able to drink.The invitation says the first drink is on the house. Good enough for me.

REASON #4: Honestly, you have nothing better to do on a Monday evening. The event is scheduled from 6:00-8:00 pm. You can afford to miss Jeopardy for once, and you can still be home by bedtime. Better yet, head out after the event and grab a bite at one of those trendy, locavore SE Portland hot spots you’re always reading about in Portland Monthly.

REASON #5: Forget what I said about finding a restaurant after the event. Koi Fusion will be parking its truck behind the building and serving its yummy Korean tacos. Gourmet Magazine selected Koi Fusion as one of “Eight Great Street-Food Vendors in Portland". I'll bet that the NY Times likes it too, because they love everything about Portland.

REASON #6: Get your holiday entertaining out of the way. Invite friends and family to the event. Tell them it’s your annual Holiday Party. Wear a smoking jacket and greet them at the door. They’ll think you know a lot of cool people, and will be only mildly confused by all the talk about Profile Theatre.

REASON #7: Sure, you supported Portland’s new “arts tax”, but do you really support the arts? Really? Prove it.

REASON #8:  Bourbon Jockey will be playing music. That should be reason enough. Profile Theatre's invitation goes so far as to call the band “legendary”. Over at Arts Watch, Barry Johnson wrote a lengthy and thoughtful post-mortem of Portland’s so-called arts tax.  Blah, blah, blah, whatever…wait a minute… did he mention me and say that I play in “a swell cowboy band?” He did!

 See you there?


The Countess of Albemar
Over half a century ago, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation  asked some fancy English people to help it figure out a policy for supporting the arts in Great Britain, much as the Oregon Community Foundation is now formulating policy on the use of the $150 million recently given by the Fred W. Fields estates in support of the arts and education.  The following report from 1959 is illuminating for many reasons, not the least of which is its parallels with arguments for arts funding that are still alive today. The full report follows, but let me jump to the conclusion for those readers with short attention spans:

What is lacking, and still seems to be lacking, notwithstanding the significant advances made in recent years or months is adequate support or patronage. Even today, far too few people seem to recognize the place which the arts should play in the life of the nation as a whole, or if they recognise it, show a marked reluctance to meet the cost.  If this should be thought too harsh a general judgement, let us say rather that the arrangements for support of the arts seem to us rather scrappy and patchy - some things are well done: others almost wholly neglected. The synoptic eye does not seem to have been at work: or if it has, its vision has not yet stimulated enough action from the nerve centres of the brain."

The full report follows, with highlights added by me.


The Board of Administration of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation asked Lord Bridges, the Countess of Albemarle, Mr. Noel Annan, and Sir George Barnes to review the needs of the arts in Britain so that the Foundation might formulate a policy for their support.


The reasons why the arts should be fostered may seem so obvious that there is little to be gained by discussing them. But to leave unsaid the basic assumptions often leads to misunderstandings.

Put very briefly, the arts represent much of the finest achievements of the human spirit in all ages. Enjoyment of the arts is not confined to those who have themselves outstanding artistic gifts; it is something which in varying degrees brings insight, delight and pleasure to countless men and women.

We believe that this latent power of enjoyment is far more widespread than are the opportunities of awakening it, and that when awakened it can open channels of communication between individuals and groups who share few intellectual or social sympathies and who are unsuspecting of the powers which they possess. It is something which, if left dormant, leads to impoverishment of human nature. Charles Darwin put the point well in his autobiography. Speaking of the time when he had lost his powers of appreciating poetry, pictures and music he wrote:

“The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.'”

Through the arts people acquire some sense of the past and of the heritage of their own and other nations. The arts can also awaken people to the beauty and the infinite variety of life. In learning to love art men and women not only sharpen their emotions and relate them to intelligence, but they learn to discriminate between different pleasures and to prefer what is of lasting value to what is fugitive. Enjoyment of the arts is something which our civilisation should make available to all who are capable of it.

Today this reasoning has greater force than ever before. For the trend of our social conditions means that a far greater proportion of the people of this country will, in years to come, have leisure and the means to enjoy the arts. Moreover as education and knowledge become more scientific and technical, it is even more important to encourage delight in poetry, painting, drama and music. For the reception of facts alone, without the feeling which is necessary for their due realisation, will lead to public indifference. It is art which can bring facts to life and make them real in our imagination.

Opinions may differ about the proportion of the population of any country which is capable of enjoying the highest forms of art. But few will dispute that there are marked differences in the prestige and degree of support accorded to the arts in various countries. These differences depend in part on national tradition and in part on the manner and extent of the patronage exercised in the past. Thus the prestige which the arts enjoy in France is bound up with the part that they played in the 17th and 18th centuries, when France was mistress of Europe and when her culture dominated civilized society. In Germany artistic activity is widespread, partly because each court fostered it in the days before the unification of the country, and today each provincial city has behind it a long tradition of princely or aristocratic patronage. The same is true of the cities which were the capitals of the Italian states from the days of the renaissance onwards. Again, in Italy opera is a popular art, and the agelong pilgrimage of travellers to admire the buildings and the pictures in her towns persuades people that art is important.

Traditions such as these are not nearly so strong in this country. In the provinces they are often conspicuously weak and patronage has been much less widely exercised. Nevertheless, since in no country and at no time have the arts flourished without patronage, our starting point must be the present methods of patronage in this country. It may be of help if we state briefly at the outset the main directions in which our enquiry has led us to think that present methods do not achieve all that should be done, and that further help is needed by the arts.

The first is that far greater support is needed for the arts than in the past. Nor is this a temporary need. Once high standards of artistic creation and performance have been established, an increasing sum is required to maintain these new standards. This means that over the years public authorities will have to find more money for the arts. The second is that far more needs to be done today to render the arts accessible, particularly in the provinces. The third point is that there should be more scope for experiment in order to invigorate the arts. The fourth point is that we think that more should be done to foster appreciation of the arts among the young. The introduction of music and drawing into primary schools has been of the highest importance. But in grammar and secondary modern schools, the practice and appreciation of the arts is apt to be crowded out after the age of 14; while little incentive or encouragement is given to boys and girls after leaving school to develop whatever interest in the arts they have acquired. The best means of doing this is something which would well repay enquiry.


Above all a trust can and should be prepared to back individuals, whether artists or those who follow other callings. It should never forget that artists, and not institutions, create art; and that however desirable it is to foster the growth of a public for the arts by spending its bounty on education or by supporting institutions, that public will evaporate unless its interest in modern art is continually stimulated. And how better can this be done than by encouraging, by its patronage, composers, poets, painters and sculptors? Backing individual artists is a risk, and often a disappointing venture. But the winners justify the process, and if trusts will not back their fancy and be bold and be prepared to face ridicule, how can State patronage, which is accountable to public criticism, be expected to do anything more than play safe?

Another important duty of a trust is to give help which would enable the promoter of, say, a series of concerts or a dramatic production to employ artists who will make the venture outstanding and superlative. By pursuing the highest standards, art flourishes; wheareas dim second-rate ventures drive people away and do more harm than good.

Unlike public bodies, trusts are accountable to themselves only. They give decisions but do not have to give reasons. This gives them a freedom of which they should make the fullest use.

It is, of course, wise for a trust to concentrate its resources on certain broad purposes and to form certain general conclusions as to how those purposes can best be served. In other words a trust is bound to develop a policy, and it is as a help to that end that the suggestions which follow are made. But trustees should never allow themselves to be dominated by that policy. They should not allow themselves to slip into a position in which their decisions are governed by precedents, like most public bodies, and they cease to be free to exercise an unfettered judgment on each case as it is presented to them. A trust must therefore be ready to change its policy at short notice and to back novel and promising schemes outside its normal scope. For we believe that one of the chief aims of a trust must be to seek out and give encouragement to movements which are significant and creative and to support schemes which others may not feel bold enough to support.

A more general, a more humdrum, but nevertheless an equally valid way of stating the general position outlined in these paragraphs would be to say that it is the duty of a trust to encourage and foster new developments or growing points, where there is a reasonable chance that the new development will later on either be self supporting or will attract permanent support whether from public funds or from elsewhere. It will be well advised to help these growing points by grants either of a capital nature or for a fixed term of years.

To say that a trust should encourage new developments does not mean that it should give all its support to newly established organisations. This would be a mistake. It would put too great a premium on mere novelty, and would be wasteful of the wisdom acquired by those organisations which have built up valuable experience in a particular field. Opportunities will arise in which a well established organisation which has outrun its original impetus, or perhaps has lost some of its effectiveness through shortage of funds, can be given a fresh start or encouraged to pursue a promising new line by, for example, a grant for re-equipment, or a grant to tide over a difficult period.

Yet no trust can allow itself to get into the position in which its resources, or a substantial proportion of them, become, as it were, permanently mortgaged to the support of particular institutions or objects. Its support must, therefore, be given to meet particular emergencies or needs, or to provide help over the initial periods of a new scheme after which it will be either self-supporting or will obtain help from other sources.

It is important that money should be given in a way which does not weaken the responsibilities of those who receive it. We are entirely opposed to the practice of giving grants to meet annual deficits, more particularly where grants on this basis are made over a period of years. The results of this course are plainly mischievous. Grants should usually be made for fixed amounts and for fixed periods. The receiving organisations will thus know where they stand and can make their plans accordingly. If they get into debtin the first year, they will have to adjust their plans for later years. If they make a profit, or a larger profit than expected, that is surely something which should be welcome to receiver and giver alike.

One further point. There are, of course, instances in which a grant by a trust to meet quite a small proportion of the sum required for a particular scheme will attract help from others and will make the thing go. Indeed there are many instances in which it would be inappropriate for a particular trust to do more than give a helping hand to a scheme to which others, whether individuals or corporate bodies, could be expected to make larger contributions.

But a trust which goes far in this direction will soon find that it is being milked of a large proportion of its resources without having to its credit any notable or worthwhile achievements. It will have lost its opportunity of doing something which would not otherwise have come to pass. On the whole, we think it is better to aim at giving generous help to a small number of worthwhile objects rather than to spread the butter thinly over a large piece of bread.

Much more needs to be done to persuade people that pictures on walls are as necessary to a house as furniture. It is noticeable that in the New Towns, houses which are furnished with contemporary furniture, fabrics and wallpapers, have bare walls. Here an example could be set by institutions, and (as suggested in paragraph 74 above) universities and colleges could do much by establishing picture-loan libraries so that the coming generations learned to put modern paintings, reproductions and lithographs as well as pin-ups in their rooms.

In putting forward these suggestions we recognise that money alone will not give birth to good art; but it can provide, for those artists who have proved their worth, a respite from debt and from the necessity to spend long hours at other work in order to provide for a family.


The other line of approach is that, even if good theatres are provided, there can be no certainty that they will be used for good plays worthily acted. There are at present about 30 repertory theatres which receive help from the Arts Council and about half as many again which receive no such help at the present time. The standard of performance of these companies varies considerably. Undoubtedly a proportion of them do first-class work and it would be a great pity if their continuance or progress were to be hampered
by financial difficulties.

The chief difficulties which beset these companies are as follows: first the labour and cost of continually putting on new plays after the very short runs usual in repertory: secondly, the balance on which these companies operate is so delicate that one failure may upset their finances for a whole season: thirdly, adventurous programmes of plays do not pay, and this imposes caution on all but the most daring managements: fourthly, television not only reduces audiences but draws the best repertory actors from the provinces to London, because touring or acting in repertory companies is both less lucrative and more obscure than work which can be picked up in the London studios, where they may become known to an audience of millions.

Again if a promising scheme were devised for an experimental theatre, whether in London or in the provinces, it might be thought worthy of support by the Foundation. By an experimental theatre we mean a theatre in which a producer can try out new plays and
playwrights, relying on outside financial support.

It might also be possible to give financial help to a limited number of managements which both need and deserve it. Surprisingly strong stimulus can be given to the theatre simply by helping one brilliant and imaginative producer. Such seasons have an influence on the theatre out of all proportion to the number of people who take part in the productions or even see the plays.


Playwrights. The English theatre is greatly hampered by lack of good playwrights. We do not believe that there are many original and skilled playwrights who cannot get their plays produced on the London stage or elsewhere for lack of interest in new plays by managements. Playwriting is governed by technical considerations hardly less severe than the composition of music; but, whereas musicians study composition in academies, there is no place where the technique of playwriting is studied. The drama department at
Bristol University, however, is doing pioneer work in providing courses on the drama and acquainting students with the problems of the living theatre. It seemed to us that this initiative could well be followed by other universities. Indeed, it is remarkable that many of the present distinguished generation of American playwrights have, at some time, been members of drama departments in American universities. It would obviously be otiose for all universities to establish such departments but one or two would serve as growing points. They should be genuinely concerned with the problems of production and the technique of writing plays and not primarily with the academic study of drama already fully catered for in the language faculties.


One of the surprising omissions in the cultural life of this country is the proper provision for children's theatre, which flourishes in so many parts of the world. There are very few adult professional companies giving dramatic performances which are planned and produced specifically for children, although where they exist they receive support from local education authorities; but for lack of a central body and funds for initiating companies, children's theatre depends on the spasmodic efforts of a few enthusiasts. Another inhibiting factor on its development is the lack of playwrights who understand the mind and reactions of the child today. Any private patron would find a comparatively untouched field for pioneering experiments both in playwriting and play production for children.


If this country was failing to produce artists of the highest quality, the outlook for the arts would be gloomy indeed. But that is not so. British painters, musicians, composers, sculptors, ballerinas - to mention only some artists - all these are now held in the highest repute internationally.

What is lacking, and still seems to be lacking, notwithstanding the significant advances made in recent years or months is adequate support or patronage. Even today, far too few people seem to recognize the place which the arts should play in the life of the nation as a whole, or if they recognise it, show a marked reluctance to meet the cost.

If this should be thought too harsh a general judgement, let us say rather that the arrangements for support of the arts seem to us rather scrappy and patchy - some things are well done: others almost wholly neglected. The synoptic eye does not seem to have been at work: or if it has, its vision has not yet stimulated enough
action from the nerve centres of the brain.