Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not just the Arts Council

Item this morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 about Arts Council metropolitan bias.

The Arts Council is a classic establishment institution.  Quintessentially New Establishment, it has over nearly seventy years become almost Old Establishment (its luminaries decked with so many gongs and titles they appear positively ruritanian when gathered together).  It's power is enormous, but because this is soft power (cultural, influential, almost indefinable) most politicians do not take it seriously and so it slips away from democratic control.

For most of its history this did not matter.  The Arts Council was run by elitists, and although they may not subsidise experimental rock, they would not subsidise a Lloyd-Webber musical either.  Like almost all establishment organisations appointments tended to be by "buggins turn" which was undemocratic, but also uncontroversial.

Things changed with the rise of New Labour.

Not just the Arts Council, but almost all establishment institutions were filled with socialist placemen and place women (the Law Society is an excellent case-study that demonstrates how this was done - someone needs to record what happened there while it is still fresh in the minds of Council members).

"Socialism?  Don't make me laugh" says Owen Jones about the New Labour period.  This illustrates how subtle and insidious the Blairite cultural revolution has been - even New Labour's supporters (and Owen Jones was a supporter let us not forget) did not recognise it.  And broadly the socialist apparatchiks are still in place, long after the demise of Blair.

What is to be done?

In more ways than one Gordon Brown has been the antidote to Tony Blair.

The Brownite recession and subsequent austerity has driven cuts in public spending that are having a disproportionate impact on arts organisations, not least the Arts Council.  It is not clear whether the government is targeting these cuts ideologically, but I sincerely hope they are.  Therefore I quietly cheered when I heard socialist impresario Danny Boyle on the PM programme on Radio 4 bemoaning "the cuts" - if I had my way I would cut public funding to everyone and everything even remotely connected to Danny Boyle so that he found himself in the midst of his own personal pandemonium.

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