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to think that Tony Hall could have found a better recipient for free tickets than 3 rich Cabinet ministers?

(18 Posts)
sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 09:42:48

Now, you will all note my name and guess that I a a Wagner fan, so this isn't a rant about opera in general; it's a rant about freebies worth 880 quid going to George Osborne and his kind.

Here's the story and it's made me even more livid than usual about this stupid country and its imbecilic government and wretchedly entrenched class system:

The focus is on whether Gideon could really take the afternoon off. But that's not what made me furious. Surely Tony Hall could have given the tickets to someone who couldn't afford them? A poor music or voice student at the RAM, or ten kids from Tottenham, or three music teachers in East London? Why the FUCK should RICH people get given more? Wouldn't it make more sense to give the poor the odd treat? Otherwise they might conclude that there's a bit of an expectation that they will never rise to being opera-goers, y'know.

Alas, I know the thinking; Osborne et al have power and must be converted to our ways. But why not give tickets to people without money and just ask Georgie in for a drink beforehand?

This assumes new relevance if Hall is really a strong candidate to be BBC D-G.

whatwereyouthinkinof Tue 13-Nov-12 10:25:21

Sadly Sieglinde, you already have given the is to keep those in power or who have or possibly could have any clout with Arts councils and wealthy patrons of the arts sweet.
As a former opera singer myself I know only too well that half the job is wine pouring, canape offering and sweet talking the rich and power weilding on behalf of the company who is employing you.
In their defence, the major opera companies do give tickets to students ... I know that Scottish Opera used to offer comps (especially for dress rehearsals) to students at the RSAMD, and when I was working with British Youth Opera on Magic Flute, Covent Garden gave us stalls tickets to see their production, and years later when studying at the National Opera Studio, Covent Garden again occasionally offered tickets to those of us studying there.
Most opera companies usually do offer bargain tickets for those who can't afford the top prices (I have never had to save up for a ticket for the opera...unlike the tickets to see Wicked on tour NEXT YEAR that I have just broken the bank for!) and they also run schools projects to take opera to those children who have never had the opportunity to see let alone take part in one before.However those things dont get very much publicity. But wining and dining those with influence does and is sadly a very necessary part of keeping the genre alive proving to those who hold the purse strings thsat we are worthy of the investment, especially in times of public austerity when governments cannot be seen to be throwing money at the luxuries in life whilst squeezing the middle classes who normally support the Arts by buying tickets.

EmmelineGoulden Tue 13-Nov-12 10:34:17

That is a brilliant picture of Osborne!

It is, of course as suggested - people with resources get freebies in the hope it will convince them to direct some of those resources in the "right" direction. It isn't just the class system though. It's concentrated power. You see the same thing in China.

sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 10:40:18

Thanks, whatwereyou. Good to know, and it might be wise for the companies in question to announce this more often. I've taken parties of students to the ROH, virtually all of them people who had never ever been to an opera, and we get a discount for being a party, but that's it, even though I've always asked. One reason I'm peed off. The other is that I AM the middle class who buys tickets sad

Emmeline, can't say it's all better now I know we are like China. [rueful smile] I'd be roasted alive if I allocated Oxford places on this basis, and RIGHTLY SO.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 13-Nov-12 11:21:34

I don't have a problem with things like this. People are free to give whatever they want to whomever they want, whether it be one rich person giving another rich person an opera ticket or a NMW earner giving twenty quid to charity.


sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 11:23:00

Nobody said they weren't free, freddo. People are free to do whatever damn fool thing they like. What I said was that morally it stinks.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Tue 13-Nov-12 11:26:33

I don't understand why you think that morally, it stinks.

Yes it would be nice if they also made tickets available for people who couldn't otherwise go, but there is be nothing to stop them doing that as well.

sieglinde Tue 13-Nov-12 13:33:12

'To each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities.'

Are you saying people who can't pay 880 quid on top of the tax they already pay somehow don't deserve highbrow art?

And I take it you won't mind if I auction half the Oxford places I allocate to the highest bidder because his or her mummy and daddy will be able to give to the university? grin

laughtergoodmedicine Tue 13-Nov-12 15:58:44

yep, giving to the rich does not grab my chymes

EmmelineGoulden Tue 13-Nov-12 16:28:59

sleglinde tickets at the ROH start at less than £10, I'm pretty sure that's cheaper than when I was a student 20 years ago (I recall being amazed at getting in for £15). And they do a bunch of free stuff too They are fairly heavily subsidized by tax and lottery funding. I'd bet most of those subsidized ticketsgo to those who could afford to pay full price if they prioritised it (and gave up other things), but would rather not. I'm sure Hall was mainly trying to ensure that funding continued, and having read the papers knew Osborne couldn't be expected to sit up in the Gods with the plebs.

I think it stinks morally because people who are able to influence public funds towards or away from institutions should not be able to accept gifts from those institutions. And institutions that receive public money should not be able to give gifts outside of their direct mission. The ticket isn't free - Hall expects something from Osborne in exchange. What stinks is that Osborne will be using tax payer's money to make good on that obligation (i.e. Osborne gets something for nothing).

(I'm not sure your Oxford analogy is great though. Isn't one of the reasons Oxford [and Cambridge] are elite institutions today because they used to give places away for money, nepotism and good rowing skills? Now they don't need to of course. But does anyone think Prince Charles got in on the merit of his A levels?).

OTheHugeManatee Tue 13-Nov-12 16:59:46

It's politics, you daft git. You give people with power nice freebies to help build a relationship with them. What is the point of giving expensive tickets to people who can't pull strings when you need a favour?

Pretty much the whole world works like this. I'm amazed at your outrage tbh.

sieglinde Wed 14-Nov-12 08:59:36

Well, manatee, I'm kind of proud to be a daft git. If people just swallow this kind of stuff then it will indeed be the norm. I see a strong rebellion against it in Oxford, which has stopped it being a cosy corner for the rowing sons of the rich, and I'm not willing to give up on the rest of the planet just yet grin.

emmeline, my point was that people - including the very ministers who were off to the orchestra stalls - would be loudly offended if we STILL operated on the lines you define as normal. Not denying that we ONCE did, but that basically stopped in the 1960s, though patchily.

In a nutshell; if you don't fight you lose.

And on cheap seats; they are tough on anyone with any kind of disability/the elderly/children. I've sat in them many times, including this time, but next to me was a woman in her early seventies who was virtually crippled by sciatica... There were also only a very small number of day returns for The Ring, and those involved queuing for hours. Of course, rich people send someone to queue for them sad

EmmelineGoulden Wed 14-Nov-12 10:25:07

And yet Oxford serves the children of the rich now more than it did in the 60s.

sieglinde Wed 14-Nov-12 11:29:53

Which is because of the decline of the selective state sector, I'm afraid. Most of those we take from the state sector are still from grammars and 6th-form colleges. (Not my choice, but they have better marks..)

I maintain that there was a left-right tacit conspiracy to close them; the right didn't want little Basil's chances ruined by some broad-talking smartypants, and the left didn't want to be led by boys who had been brought up bourgeois.

EmmelineGoulden Wed 14-Nov-12 12:16:22

Why is that any better than paying for the place at point of entry?

sieglinde Wed 14-Nov-12 13:17:32

Sorry - not getting this. Selective state schools don't make any payments to us, and nor do private ones. confused

EmmelineGoulden Wed 14-Nov-12 14:09:56

No. Rich parents used to be able to get kids into universities by making big donations. Now they spend the money on private schools and tutors. It doesn't really matter if they paid Oxford or Eton.

The broad-talking smarty-pants still exist. They just aren't getting the same bits of paper out of the secondary education system (well they are, they're getting better, but the Basil's are getting sent to schools that get better still). Oxford's entry systems haven't adjusted to make sure they can find those broad-talking smart-pants. They make a few token gestures. But it's not effective.

In the last 20 years the ROH has done more to reach previously under-served audiences than Oxford has.

So although I think the Osborne ticket gifts suck, I still think the Oxford analogy is pretty shakey.

sieglinde Fri 16-Nov-12 07:21:08

Ah. See what you mean, though this method is not foolproof, so to speak.

The trouble with Basil is that we aren't Basils and Basilias ourselves anymore. None of us went to Eton or send our kids there. So we are just as chippy as you. And I'd love to find more broad-talking smarties because they are wonderful to teach. I turned down 4 from Westminster, 4 from Pauls Girls, and 2 from Nth London Collegiate last year, and took both my Access students... but ALL basically on quality assessment, not as an act of social engineering.

So while I agree we are not great, we are trying grin

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