Monday, October 26, 2009

Independence of culture

An article in yesterday's Observer allows me to put up an image of one of my heroes, John Maynard Keynes. For Keynes was founder of the Arts Council.
Tamara Rojo makes clear about the independence of culture as a result of having an Arts Council. Clearly this is in part due to a fear of subversion of culture for propaganda ends, as was the case with Nazi Germany. Wittinglly and unwittingly, a number of artists were held up as talismans for the system, such as Wilhelm Furtwangler. Indeed, Germany hasn't had a proper culture ministry in the post war era. If there is one now, it's a new development.
If the Arts Council is streamlined to such a degree that it becomes a mouthpiece for DCMS, then who knows where and how the arts will be used or manipulated. Of course, it won't seem as though that has been done, but it could easily be the case. Over recent years, Arts Council applications have already asked for details about ethnic breakdown (and even sexual preferences) of those involved. And it looks for outcomes rather than artistic quality.
Certainly we have found it difficult at the Vortex to persuade the Arts Council that we are worth significant support as a top quality jazz club! Discussion focusses on making returns in a shortish time period, in my view.
With the government about to make significant cuts in spending, I can easily envisage that they desire to streamline arts funding and bring it "in house". I hope not.

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