Writing to newspapers is a little hobby of mine, and I’ve enjoyed a good hearing from one local paper in particular, the Belfast Telegraph.

My most recent offering was published today: a reply to journalist Alf McCreary about public funding for the Ulster Orchestra. I can’t find his original article on the newspaper’s website, nor my letter as published. If they appear I’ll post them up. In the meantime here’s my original letter on the matter, which appeared in the paper with few editorial amendments:

Alf McCreary makes a song and dance about the lack of financing for the Ulster Orchestra and writes in the Belfast Telegraph (March 4): “Artisitic merit should be given its due financial reward.” But, just who is to give it its due financial reward? Lots of people love the orchestra, true. However, whack me over the head with a club and call me a neanderthal if you wish but the last time I saw them it was a massive yawn-fest and I’ll be in no hurry back. Why should people like me be forced to fund art we’re not interested in? Why should money be taken forcibly from my pocket to fund something because Mr. McCreary values its artistic merit? I don’t wish to force Mr McCreary and others of his ilk to fund my artistic tastes or pay for bands that I love to hear – many of whom struggle to make a living, too. Here’s the fact of the matter: if enough people love the ulster orchestra then it should have no problem receiving enough voluntary support to survive; and if too few care for the orchestra then why should the majority be forced to fund the artistic tastes of the minority? Arts funding is about forcibly taking money from us all to pay for the aesthetic tastes of the few. It should all be ended in favour of the principle: “user pays.”

Stephen Graham