Council Cuts and Churchill


Mrs SG and I are visiting Southampton, on the south coast of England. This afternoon we went to the art gallery. Seeing something resembling a pay-point we asked if there was an entry fee.

“No,” said the man on duty, “It’s completely free. But I should warn you that we close at 3 o’clock.” I glanced at my watch. It was 2:40.

“Is that because it’s Monday?” I asked.

“No. We’re open from 10 to 3 Monday to Friday, and to 5 on Saturday.” Seeing my expression he added apologetically, “Council cuts.”

We nodded to show our understanding and hurried off to see as much as we could. Beside one painting was a Churchillian quotation that was new to us:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them. Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which is their due.”

There’s an irony there, I think.

I also think it insane to invest huge sums of money in great public buildings, fill them with valuable works of art, and then open the doors for only 32 hours per week to the people whose money paid for those investments.


Churchill said and wrote a lot of very wise things; if you click here you’ll see a selection.

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