Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lake District Walkers - Hideously White

Woe unto any publicly funded body whose customers are mainly white, middle-class and middle-aged.

The Lake District is facing mass resignations by its volunteer rangers over a decision to scrap free guided walks in the national park because they do not attract enough people from ethnic minority communities.
Ranger-led walks are among 900 Lake District events planned for 2005-06 that are to be dropped because they appeal mostly to “white, middle-class, middle-aged people”.

It's true. "Visibly ethnic" minorities are like hen's teeth in Caldbeck or Cockermouth, although in summer Far Sawrey is besieged by Japanese lovers of Mrs Heelis. You will find the occasional black girl or young Asian professional walking the fells, but hoodies and gold teeth are pretty rare.

We were at Threlkeld sheepdog trials this summer (they were all found guilty) and - though it seems almost incredible in 21st century Britain - I'm sorry to have to report that there were very few black and Asian farmers present. There were however a few women farmers, one or two tweed-skirted, flat-shoed, mannish ladies with dogs, and a number of people with apparent disabilities - well, the beer tent had been open for several hours.

If this precedent is followed it could be farewell to most State subsidy of the Arts. Good riddance Covent Garden, get lost Glyndebourne, adieu Alhambra, ciao CBSO, push off Proms.

Rachel Peppin as Juliet and Robert Parker as Romeo
Above: not much melanin in evidence at Birmingham Royal Ballet.

The Royal Ballet was pretty pale last time I looked, too. And as for the arts and literature festivals - well, all the black faces at Cheltenham are on the lecture podium. Hasta la vista, Hay on Wye !

No comments: