Here in the UK our chancellor of the exchequer, George Osbourne (now also known as Geoffrey, following a slip of the tongue by US President Barack Obama which has greatly tickled the funny bone of UK society) has announced his 2013 comprehensive spending review (CSR) 11.6 billion pounds worth of yet more funding cuts did little to warm the cockles of the nations heart. The cut of 7% to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, felt like a joyless, gloomy picture painted by a lacklustre artist whose eye was tainted by myopia.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23060049

Meanwhile the passionate, the cultured, the creative and the positive all fight on to preserve the treasures of the UK that make our nation great. These treasures are reflected both in and by, our art, our heritage and our creative industries that globally touch the lives of people around the world; whether it be through film, theatre, history, our gaming industry or our music, or even our eccentric propensity to take something absurd or quirky and make something of it. Culture is barrier breaking. Even for people who think their lives are not touched by it, it is there in their psyche. Perhaps because it is so intrinsic in our lives we underestimate its worth to ourselves, individually and as communities. But as culture and the arts come under fire; an easy target for cutting corners and saving money across the world, some interesting discussions have been had. We are not alone, on twitter the likes of @catalanmuseums and @simonbrault (président de Culture Montréal) to name but two,  have joined the debate showing that universally ‘culture matters’.

At the beginning of the year, writer and presenter Melvyn Braggs explored the history of the idea of culture and its value today on Radio 4   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pmg02 .  Sameer Rahmin, assistant books Editor at the Telegraph offers his insight here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/9772655/Melvyn-Bragg-and-the-value-of-culture.html and you might also enjoy an academic response here from Jeremy Gilbert  http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/value-of-culture-reluctant-tribute-to-bbc   But perhaps no-one in government listens to Radio 4 or if they do, their ears, minds and hearts are closed to the truth.  It seems that in their dogged determination to save the nation from economic disaster they drag their trail blazing battle wagons over the gardens of the nation that nurture and grow all our cultural talent and heritage, and fail to look back and see the irreparable damage done.

A debate was held this week in the House of Commons http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2013/june/opposition-debate-on-the-arts-and-creative-industries/  led by Harriet Harman shadow secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, and responded to by Culture Secretary, Maria Miller on behalf of the Government.  http://storify.com/Artsmonkey1/the-arts-and-culture-debate-artsdebate.  It followed an early day motion launched by Dame Joan Ruddock on the importance of the arts and creative industries. It demonstrated that there is still much work to be done to enable those in power to articulate the importance of culture in terms of value.

Next week Dan Jarvis MP hosts a debate in Bristol on the future of Britain’s Arts & Culture Policy  https://cultureactiveuk.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/one-nation-labour-arts-event/

If you haven’t read enough articles by following all the links above you could do worse than read these three:

one:  a paper on the Value of Culture (on the relationship between economics and arts)  edited by Arjo Klamer published by Amsterdam Press in 1996  (google *the value of culture, arjo* to discover a free download of the paper)

two:  a paper entitled The economics of Art and Culture produced by the Cambridge University Press and written by James Heilbrun and Charles M. Gray in 2001 http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam031/00059875.pdf

and finally a recent article by Susan Jones for the Guardian’s Professional Culture blog:  Funding Friction and the Future of Art  http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/jun/24/pay-artists-funding-friction-future

It would seem that for all the knowledge we possess the wheels of progress are slow to turn.

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