Selby Whittingham: Tate Modern or Tate Theatre

A survey by the Office for National Statistics in May revealed that the British are changing their spending habits. Instead of filling our homes to the rafters with consumer durables and not-so-durables, we’re spending our spare cash on

to be full of covetable objects ordinary people could fantasise about owning


– modest-sized works, originally made for private consumption, put on public display for the benefit of the general population. The Switch House galleries are mostly full of /* xin2 */ large-scale works created with public display in mind. Like public sculptures, they

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are made for rushing past.

400;">The mystery of this so-called gallery extension which has so far cost src="//"> £58 million of public money is how relatively little art

there is in /* xin-1 */ it: only three of its ten floors are exhibition galleries, four if you count the Tanks. But this didn’t stop the panel assembled for the press launch – including poor little Sadiq, whistled up at short notice as a
multicultural mascot – from harping on about how transformative it would all be. It’s unfortunate that the most conspicuous evidence of the
economic transformation so far triggered by the old Tate Modern should be Richard Rogers’s Neo Bankside luxury apartments with their litter of posh nosh outlets underneath. Looking south from Switch House’s 10th floor viewing platform, it’s hard to imagine the Tate’s
regenerative effect rippling out towards the

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North Downs without the swathes of intervening social housing being swept away

before the debt was paid. Slim chance of our new tightwad PM delivering on Osborne’s previous promise of an extra £6.8 million of annual funding – and extra funding will be
not just to service the debt.


As with any expanded operation, the elephant in the gallery extension is google_ad_width = 970; the payroll. Billionaire donors who will happily part with capital //--> to get their names on a museum building

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give a stuff about the extra numbers of staff needed to keep

it open. They leave such practicalities to museum administrators and the public bodies that fund them. If it came to keeping museum staff in jobs //--> and pensions, your average billionaire would hand straight

over to Dominic Chapell.

In America, where more than $5 billion

been spent on museum google_ad_width = 970; expansion


in the past nine years, administrators are getting google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; wise. The Met, which reported a $10 million
deficit this year, has mothballed plans for a David Chipperfield-designed modern and contemporary wing and, along with MoMA and the Brooklyn Museum, has announced plans to cut staff. The
Met’s 2,300 staff – who, unlike museum staff in Britain, are properly paid – cost $200 million in salaries and benefits in google_ad_width = 970; 2013. MoMA, which spent $87 million on its
800 employees in the same year, has scaled back plans for a new extension.

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costs, at least in theory. One reason, I suspect, why Tate Modern’s Switch House galleries are almost


entirely given over to large sculptural installations is that they require less security – the worst you can do is steal a Carl André brick. Meanwhile