I see that a leap of faith, or worse an assumption that everyone else should know what comes next, in the continuingly abortive argument in defence of the arts.
I heard a leading member of the arts – I knew he was from the arts by the way because he was lean and spare like a triathlete (I’ll explain that shortly) - who said he’d fight tooth and nail to avoid having to prove the arts was an economic generator. That’s a bit like a Bishop saying he’d fight tooth and nail to avoid having to prove Christ rose from the dead it being so obvious to him that it was beneath him to revert to anything as tawdry as proving it – proof? Pah! Beneath him.
So the economic case for the arts has not been heard (albeit it may have been made.) In Birmingham recently a Councillor said “Yes. I know you’re right but I need more evidence to sell it to others.” Whilst in the Nesta paper of April 2013 “A manifesto for the creative economy”, it was said:- ”the economic argument for public funding of the arts and culture have had little traction with the UK’s cultural leaders… and there’s been a corresponding unwillingness of economists to engage with the arts and culture.…..they do not necessarily provide justification for why public funding is needed to support it.”
Already, as I read this I’m fighting tooth and nail not to go to sleep.
William Tayleur at the Business of Culture 10th birthday celebration at the Africa Centre on May 16th 2013 quoted Churchill who defended spending on the arts as being dedicated to creating the sort of society in which we wish to live.
Music, art, sculpture, drama, opera, TV, advertising, novels, talks on culture are all the stuff of two things that make us human (or better humans)
The capacity to learn and surprise ourselves
The ability to suspend our disbelief and dream
And here’s one for Maria Miller and the Czar of Health, the one time Culture guru, Jeremy Hunt, the arts also make you fit – hence my comment about the uber-fit grumpy Arts Chief I referred to earlier.
More seriously the argument for civilisation shouldn’t be too hard to make or take should it?
I’ve decided to redesign my own life by cutting down on what I spend on food and diverse charities and increasing what I spend on the arts.
As with most things in life this isn’t much to do with government which is generally hopeless at determining priorities in the lives of ordinary, hard-working people (hard-working? George Osborne is using these words the whole time – have you noticed?). Well me? I’m going to work less hard and enjoy, explore and discuss more art. And singlehandedly I’m starting a movement to change the way we look and think about the arts.
And I’m fighting tooth and nail for it.
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