I’ve been wondering which is better, ‘steady state’ or ‘boom and bust’. Clearly, in the Republic, we’ve gone for the latter. While other countries around the world are showing signs of pulling out of the recesion, we get to flounder a while longer, thanks to a decade of crazynomics.

I wouldn’t wish the recession on anyone. That said, we borrowed wildly to buy ourselves good times, and it could well be that that mad tactic has hidden benefits. For example, is it better to have four years of 10% unemployment or two years of 5% and two years of 15%? Most people would probably go for the 10%, but in that option it tends to be the same 10% of the population who get left unemployed; if half of those 10% get a taste of work for two years, and a line or two on the CV, perhaps that’s better – time will tell.

Is there anything similar in the arts? We are probably facing into another round of cuts, and this time it’ll hurt more as the recession has already reduced wiggle-room to zero or less. It is very disheartening to think of the likely shrinkage in artistic activity. However, the boom times, however unwisely constructed, gave a broader swath of the population a taste of the arts than would otherwise have occurrred. As we retrench, we can hope that that is a legacy to call on when better times return.

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