Shadow Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and Shadow Arts Minister, Ed Vaizey have today set out far-reaching proposals to rejuvenate the arts under a Conservative Government.In the Guardian, theatre critic Michael Billington is unimpressed.
"The Future of the Arts with a Conservative Government" (pdf) sets out plans for how to provide coherent and sustained support for the arts.
The Conservative approach is to:
- Secure, long-term funding for the arts, based on the mixed economy and the arm’s length principle which ensures they have the resources to carry them through the good times and the bad.The promotion of excellence in the arts through greater trust and independence for our arts organisations.
- Use technology and a more coherent approach to arts funding in schools to enable access – we believe as many people as possible should enjoy the arts in all their varied forms in this country.
Hunt is not all bad: I sympathise with his desire to trim the bureaucracy of the Arts Council – though I hope there is no petty, politically motivated urge to ditch its chair, Liz Forgan. But, in general, I fear Hunt is offering us a dodgy prospectus. I'm sure, personally, he loves the arts. But what I want to hear is a passionate defence of state funding, an assurance that a new culture minister will have a seat at the top table, and as big a commitment to regional growth and innovation as to shoring up the established institutions. I don't get any of that from Hunt.