Launching the report last week, Sir Brian said:
“British society today is, I believe, the most exciting there has ever been. It has the potential to create the greatest art ever produced. We could even be on the verge of another Renaissance. So we should do all we can to make this happen. That means moving away from simplistic targets and recognising instead the profound value of art and culture in itself.Critic Michael Billington has hailed the document:
“I have found a hunger in the cultural sector for public funding to be more ambitious, and to lift the pressures that favour financial and artistic safety. My recommendations are founded on the simple belief that we have a genuine opportunity to build on our success so far and create some of the most exciting culture the world has ever seen.”
Unusually for such reports, McMaster's is full of radical ideas. The biggest is free admission to publicly funded arts organisations for a week. Clearly that raises an equally big question: how do companies make up for loss of box-office revenue? I'd modify the idea to six "free" days scattered through the year rather than one big-bang week. But, whichever way you look at it, it's a bold, brilliant concept that would open hitherto closed doors. McMaster has lots of other schemes up his sleeve. Ten-year-funding cycles for 10 specially targeted groups. A communal knowledge bank on which boards and trusts can draw before making key appointments. Above all, allowing arts groups to be assessed by their peers in the pursuit of excellence.However, as Billington acknowledges, quite how any of this can be put into action if the arts community has lost confidence in funding bodies, remains to be seen.