Where to begin with this trough of shit my darlings? Like most of the work that goes into Telegraph opinion pieces, not a lot of thought has been put into it. As is revealed in Ms McDowell'-s explosive first paragraph. Now it might just be me, but isn't kicking off with the phrase "...I had not given a lot of thought..." something of a bold journalistic gambit? Additionally, isn't "paying more attention" a basic conceit of any form of reportage? But let us put ad hominem asides, err, aside and focus on the TRUTH BOMBS being dropped here.
Once a year in Ye Olde Village of Belfast we get the opportunity to experience the classic forms of street performing that appear all over the world, many of them hundreds of years old representing divergent cultures and societies that may well have passed into history. While many of these seem to the naked eye to be mere "foolery" there are many subtle nuances to consider. Is that motorised robot designed to look like a homeless man a tasteless piss take ? Or is it a subtle satire of the way we treat the homeless? Somtimes if you look beyond FACE VALUE you might notice a SUBTEXT. If you are too shallow to try any of these ideas might I recommend November's "Festival of Saucers, Envelopes and Small Streams." I suspect they'll be at your depth.
The Festival of Fools allows, for at least a short period of the year, Joe Belfast to see some stuff they would not ordinarily get (it's considered too twee for the rest of the year). Without subsidies, much of the arts scene in Northern Ireland would simply not exist. Simply put, these things nine times out of ten don't make a profit. Why? BECAUSE IT ISN'T ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY. SOMETIMES IT'S ABOUT EXPRESSION, OR ARTISTIC ENDEAVOUR, OR JUST TRYING SOMETHING NEW!!!!!!! Obviously because of this, these events might have limited appeal. It's not for everyone. So without vital funding we wouldn't get any of this good stuff.
All right the Cathedral Quarter Festival certainly attracts the crowds because it has big name acts, but if that festival isn't subsidised in some fashion either by arts council or sponsorship I will eat my fucking hat. In fact, just checked--massive arts council funding which was recently cut. Still, maybe that will result in a higher quality of craic, eh?
Basically what our Ms McDowell is saying is "I saw some people doing stuff I didn't understand or like. Some people told me they didn't like it. Other people may have. I couldn't be bothered to check. I saw Andrew Maxwell at the Cathedral Quarter last year and there were loads of people at that. That must be much better."
And a final note: if we were left to have our "craic" without funding, we would be left with either top end commercial acts who can pull a crowd themselves without any subsidy, or acts that are free. Like street performers. who apparently we are too sophisticated for. We can leave that for the bumpkins in Covent Garden.