Seeing Sir Peter's productions in my youth made me the theatre lover I am today. He and Trevor Nunn are national treasures; every bit as much as the great actors of the last generation Hall lauds in the linked article as "bloody good." It is too much to hope that an arts person who has largely lived on public subsidy should be other than a Labour luvvie, but it is highly encouraging that even he has noticed his favoured party's tendency to subvert all public expenditure to political ends;
"The idea that the Arts Council is a body that should operate at arm's length from the government has long gone. The Arts Council now belongs to the government."
and its fundamental dishonesty;
"I am sick of the fact that the political establishment is concerned with soundbites and announcements. The Government has concerned itself with announcing reforms, rather than implementing them. It's all wonderful PR as long as you don't look at what they said three months earlier. It's a hateful climate of spin. It's lies, basically."
If Sir Peter is, as reported, thinking of abstaining at the next election, then Labour should really consider not contesting it at all. I wonder if his political thinking will ever move so far as to consider whether public subsidy of the arts (and not just because of the risk of their being politically subverted) is really a good thing?
When I hear theatrical types asserting that public money is essential to their art, I always remember that their god was a successful theatrical businessman who wrote and staged his plays for money. He was so English a genius (can you imagine this of Goethe?) that he actually retired when he had made enough money to achieve his modest goal of setting himself up in his home town as a local gent. As far as we know, he only set pen to paper again to write his will. He died of a chill after walking home in the rain from meeting his old theatrical mates at the pub. I am sure I would have delighted to be in that company, but am not at all sure I would want to spend an evening with his successors.
If they emulated his lack of pretension and his commercial nous, perhaps modern luvvies might also hope to reach such a wide audience as Shakespeare did, while neither begging for handouts nor compromising artistic standards?