I caught sight of a tweet yesterday by the Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, critical of the Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who had apparently cast the “‘shameful slur that arts community ‘disingenuous’ & their concerns ‘pure fiction’”. I enquired of the context and, to my surprise, Ms Harman responded swiftly with a link to an article by the Culture Secretary which appeared in the Evening Standard in November last year.
I don’t quite know why it’s taken a quarter of a year for Ms Harman to decide to get upset about this, but – I think for the first time in my life – I find myself agreeing with her. If this article was written by Maria Miller personally, she seems purposely to perpetuate the myth that Conservatives are basically all philistines who don’t quite “get” the Arts. If it was written by a civil-service aide, he (or she) deserves something of a reprimand – even after
the space of three months. Continue reading →
Rationing Mammon emaciates the Muses. Plato knew it, and so does Polly Toynbee: it’s just simple cause and effect. And government cuts tend to be cyclical: seven fat years of abundance are invariably followed by lean years of famine. Unlike health and overseas development, the arts seem to have no divine right of exemption from the fiscal straitjacket presently being strapped around other departments of state: it is undeniably politically easier to cut Northern Ballet than hospital beds or malaria nets. But the suggestion that a reduction of £150 million amounts to little more than a slight nip‘n’tuck in a very fleshy sector is a little misleading. Certainly, there are savings to be made in the labyrinthine, pathologically-left-leaning quangocracy which generously bestows public money more in proportion to political correctness than artistic merit. But, my goodness, we need to be a little careful before we equate the RSC with a bloated BBC; the LSO with the inefficiencies of the NHS; our museums and galleries with otiose Harrier jump-jets; or the local school film club or drama group with rubbish collection and pot-hole filling. Continue reading →