From Iceland — A Bottom Line For Culture, Nature And Life Itself

A Bottom Line For Culture, Nature And Life Itself

Ragnhildur Sverrisdóttir, communications officer, Novator

2014 was the year of the Excel spreadsheet. Not in business, where it belongs, but in politics. It‘s all about the bottom line.

I’m all for spending wisely, especially when politicians are portioning out taxpayers’ hard-earned money. It’s the “wisely” part I worry about. Politicians seem to actually think that you can somehow divide everything into debit and credit.

Most people know better. We certainly need to make sure that the taxpayers’ money used to run the state broadcaster is used wisely, but in that case “wisely” is not the same as “turning a profit.” Culture is not profitable. But creative people tend to panic and start to fill in their own cultural spreadsheets with all kinds of direct and indirect debit, hoping that the politicians will believe that culture pays in the one sense they understand, because they seem to be utterly incapable of comprehending that something can be rewarding in any other sense.

I worry that we won’t stop at taxing books, but will try to figure out a bottom line for literature, that we won’t stop at nibbling at radio programmes, but will put a price on culture as a whole, that we will actually start to believe that we can calculate the value of nature. I’m worried that we forget that most of us tolerate Excel as a necessary evil while what makes us tick are other things.

And we have to be able to throw a lifeline to those who will never be able to show a healthy bottom line.

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