Friday 29 November 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Gobbling up Britain's Cultural Capital

The recent independent report, “Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital: A contribution to the debate on national policy for the arts and culture in England” studying UK government arts spending
found that in 2012 to 2013 the Arts Council distributed £320m to the arts, with £20 per head of population going to London and £3.60 per head to the rest of England. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport gave £450m to “national” arts institutions (primarily museums), with £49 per head to London and £1 per head to the rest of England. Taking the two figures together works out at £69 per head for London and £4.60 per head for the rest of England. There is also Arts Council lottery money. Since 1995 it has totalled £3.5bn, which works out at £165 per head for London and £47 a head for the rest of England.
Unless of course the "head" belongs to a metal detector-using Treasure Hunter, in which case they get considerably more (tens of thousands sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds) more that the rest who do not go out emptying archaeological evidence out of archaeological sites into their pockets. Each year now we are at the level of 800-900 such finds have to be the subject of inquests and potentially Treasure awards, all at the expense of money including from precisely the same funding bodies which is not available for other areas of heritage and arts. This unregulated metal detecting is emptying archaeological sites and is emptying the public purse all for the selfish gain of a selfish minority.

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