Nothing to learn from the Culture White Paper

Following the launch of Ed Vaizey’s Culture White Paper last month, I have written a Huff Post Politics blog on the absence of arts education in the White Paper.

LCC Archive & Study Centre (C) Ana Escobar

Image showing the LCC Archive & Study Centre (C) Ana Escobar

Below is an excerpt from the piece, which you can read in full here.

Our much-liked minister for culture, Ed Vaizey, has produced a White Paper for culture, only the second of its kind. He is to be praised for putting down a marker for the government on culture.

So how do his ideas stack up against the great Jennie Lee, who set the bar 50 years ago in the first ever Culture White Paper, A Policy for the Arts?

Vaizey’s Culture White Paper is set against the background of a general retreat by national and local government from culture. And while Bevan’s NHS remains a sacred cow for each generation of politicians, Lee’s vision has been watered down ever since.

Against this background, Vaizey had been expected to show how creativity drives the wider government agenda. This was to be a great broadening out. That intent is still referred to in the introduction. But it gets lost in the delivery.

When it comes to practicalities, we find a tight focus on the subsidised cultural sector. This is culture as delivered by museums and theatres, not the broad-based culture of film, of gaming, of interactive design and graphic design, nor of the behemoth of culture that is the BBC. It speaks to a government preoccupied by its residual subsidy to bricks and mortar… very literally, in a £20m gesture to cathedral roofs.

The most obvious absence, in contrast to Lee’s ideas, is the hole where education used to be.

 

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