Dialogue:______read aloud in pairs
A: In my view, government money shouldn't be used to support the Arts.
B: I'm afraid I can't agree. Public support for the Arts is the hallmark of a
civilized society where people enjoy freedom of thought and expression.
A: Those are very nice sounding words, but look ... when we visit Art Galleries
in other countries, we usually have to pay to go in, but when foreigners come to
Britain, they're subsidized by the British tax-payer. They can enter the National
Gallery and the British Museum without paying a penny.
B: I think you're straying from the main point which is the access of British
people to their artistic heritage whether they're rich or poor. If this also makes
Britain more attractive for overseas visitors, so well and good. What's wrong with
creating a few more jobs in the tourist industry? Think of all the money that's spent in
the souvenir shops of these galleries and museums.
A: Well you might as well argue that the government should subsidize all shops.
I'm saying that it's the British tax-payer who pays the bill.
B: You misunderstand me! I'm talking about national institutions, centres of
culture which represent the best of Britain's historical and artistic treasures.
A: That's highly debatable. Some of the exhibits you see from contemporary
artists are no more than tins of baked beans or piles of bricks.
B: I'm afraid you're just trying to prove a general point by quoting extreme
examples. Of course, not every artistic creation will be to everybody's taste. The
Arts can never take new directions without risks. Both the impressionist painters and
Picasso took risks.
A: But in the real world, if people want to take risks, they should do so at their
own expense. They should either find private sponsors or sympathetic bank managers.
Why should other people pay for the exhibition of junk which nobody wants?
B: To come back to the main point, this isn't only about contemporary
experimental art. I'm talking about the appreciation of great masterpieces which have
been acknowledged for centuries.