Mea culpa, mea culpa! I thought back in September 2014 that our work may well be done and with the emergence of new agencies keen to promote culture and the UK Arts, and older more restrained agencies beginning to celebrate in a more voiciferous and enthusiastic manner it seemed we could simply slink away having got a bit of a ‘thing’ going. Now, it’s just me without the help of friends and twitter strangers in the creative UK stratosphere but it seems it’s not quite time to become “culturally in-active’ just yet. For instance my local Arts Centre; Salisbury Arts Centre, which has been going since the late seventies has just lost all its funding from the local authority.  As a society we still haven’t learnt that culture; the arts and crafts that communities create, invite, participate in and revere – should not be sidelined. It’s a balance and the arts should remain at the heart of public space, education and enlightenment.

The @cultureactive twitter account has linked us to artists, cultural organisations and agencies from around the world – we all celebrate the same thing our culture, our art.

Here in the UK we are about to see in a general election. The past five years have been about restraint, constraint, cuts, cuts and more cuts. It has been labelled as a time of austerity and as usual the arts have proved an easy target for budget cuts.

Kicking us off in 2010 came the pamphlet Arts Funding, Austerity and The Big Society, re-making the case for the arts by John Knell and Matthew Taylor

“Arts, Austerity and The Big Society”

In 2011 LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science) warned :

The arts and cultural sector faces ‘apocalyptic’ cuts in austere Britain. But new ways of looking at economic value can help to make the case for culture

By 2012 The Guardian newspaper was asking

What can the arts offer in an age of austerity?

in April 2013 ex-Culture Secretary Maria Miller put forward her contention that the arts must make their case for public funding by focusing on its economic value not its artistic value

By May 2013 The FT (Financial Times newspaper) carried this article:

The value of arts in a time of austerity

It is time to find imaginative ways to boost cultural groups’ revenues, writes Peter Bazalgette…

and the old debate about the value of culture: the creative industry was once again a hot potato.

In 2013 Fin Kennedy launched ‘In Battalions‘ a rolling stone of an argument that gathered plenty of moss, created a stir and later resulted in a Delphi Study produced in 2014

Also in 2013 and far more broadly, The University of Warwick weighed in to the ring with the Warwick Commission

The Commission fully engaged with the more powerful concept of ‘culture’ as opposed to the arts (which can so often become compartmentalised into specific areas) and amassed some useful resources on cultural value which are worth perusing and culminated last month in a final report:

Enriching Britain, Culture, creativity and growth

which you can download here

In terms of the looming election there’s still time to shout it from the rooftops. Email In Battalions to your MP along with The Warwick Commission’s report – ask them to read it, tell them why it’s important to you.

Whether your personal mantra be “Culture, Leisure, Countryside” or “Family, Film, Creativity” or perhaps “Healthy, Happy and Community” if you unpick what is important to you culture will be there at it’s beating heart, often invisible because it’s sewn in to the fabric of our daily lives, it’s like the air we breathe.