TAITMAIL     The Fed and the parlours of power

TAITMAIL The Fed and the parlours of power

The Creative Industries Federation is in a spin, how vertiginous a spin remains to be seen.

On the other musical hand

On the other musical hand

All standard musical instruments require ten active fingers to be able to play them and up to 30,000 children in UK schools are deprived access to music-making as a result. But OHMI is opening up musical expression to them, Simon Tait reports

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

First woman MP’s portrait presented to Commons

This portrait of Constance Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1918, was last night presented to the House on behalf of the Irish parliament.

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

V&A fulfills £100k regional pledge

The Victoria & Albert Museum is fulfilling the promise its then director made when it won the 2016 Art Fund Museum of the Year award, to revive its touring design exhibitions.

Pictures at an Exhibition

Pictures at an Exhibition

The Great Exhibition of the North is underway. But will it fulfil the hopes of its creators? Patrick Kelly has a look.

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Huge fall in numbers of arts teachers

Arts teacher numbers in England are in dramatic decline, according to official figures.

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland’s Archer resigns

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer, is leaving after five years in the role.

Kampfner stands down from Fed

Kampfner stands down from Fed

John Kampfner has stood down as chief executive of the Creative Industries’ Federation, which he founded four years ago with Sir John Sorrell.

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Audience agency in Scotland closes

Axe falls after Creative Scotland grant cut

Site making its Steel City mark

Site making its Steel City mark

Sheffield’s Site Gallery is to reopen with three times the space, and a new mission with a new artistic director, it was announced today.

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

Ground rules set for Brexit culture deal

The government’s Brexit white paper has set out a basis to ensure artists’ mobility between the UK and Europe after Brexit.

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Battersea Arts Centre heralds reopening with Trump protest

Three years since Battersea Arts Centre’s great hall burnt down, it is pre-empting it autumn opening today with a defiant message for Donald Trump https://www.bac.org.uk.

TAITMAIL   What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

TAITMAIL What, me worry, when Mr Wright has come along?

Who is Jeremy Wright, the headlines on Tuesday were asking.  For me, he bears an unnerving likeness to Mad Magazine’sAlfred E Neuman (a kind of 1960s Forrest Gump who only ever said “What, me worry?”), but he was the Attorney General and is now the seventh Secretary State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since 2010.

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich to get a Colour Palace

Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London is to get a “Colour Palace” for its gardens next summer.

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s tours to go green

Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures dance company is to collaborate with environmental sustainability agency Julie’s Bicycle to creative a creative green certificate for touring.

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Arts centre plan for Reading Gaol

Councillors in Reading are backing a plan to turn the town’s famous jail into an arts centre.

New culture secretary appointed

New culture secretary appointed

Kenilworth MP and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright MP is the latest Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport .

CREATIVITY Beyond access to our common culture

Dr Jonathan Gross, teaching fellow at King’s College London and one of the co-authors of a new report on cultural democracy, argues that new collaborations are needed to encourage our creative instincts

Within the space of a few weeks this summer two substantial reports have been published examining new possibilities for cultural practice in the UK. In July the Gulbenkian Inquiry into the Civic Role of the Arts released its phase one report, Rethinking Relationships, an important piece of work drawing on a large number of case studies to survey the range of civic roles currently played by publicly funded arts organisations in the UK, and asking what “next practice” might look like.

Part of the answer to this might be provided by the other report, of which I am a co-author, Towards Cultural Democracy: Promoting Cultural Capabilities for Everyone. Going beyond a have been published focus solely on publicly funded arts organisations, it examines their interrelationships with the commercial and amateur sectors, and offers a new way of understanding cultural opportunity.

Published as a King’s Cultural Enquiry, the report comes out of research into the Get Creative campaign, launched in February 2015 to celebrate the range of everyday creativity around the UK. This was in part a response to the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, which exposed the ongoing disparities in levels of engagement with publicly funded arts organisations, with regular users of Arts Council funded culture disproportionately white, wealthy and formally educated.

Partly in response to these dis- parities – which persist despite the many years of excellent outreach work across the country – the War- wick Commissioners recommended “a popular campaign to reconnect the British public with the cultural land- scape.” Get Creative was the result. It is run by a steering group of organisations including BBC Arts, Family Arts Campaign, Fun Palaces, 64 Million Artist and Voluntary Arts.
We were the evaluators of Get

Creative and produced two internal reports, informing the development of the campaign. At the same time, we were asking broader questions about cultural opportunity. Important background to our research here are the recent critiques academics have made of the de cit model. Accord- ing to these arguments, the prevailing approach to cultural policy - seeking to expand access - is premised on the idea that in some sense people should be engaging with publicly funded arts.

The Towards Cultural Democracy report takes this as a key starting point - that the deficit model, with its emphasis on cultural cold spots and non-participants, offers too narrow an understanding of cultural opportunity. We then go significantly further. Once we’ve recognised that cultural activity already takes place in many locations that have nothing to do with publicly funded arts organisations – once we’ve recognised the plethora of everyday creativity and everyday participation - what implications does this have for cultural policy and practice?

Through our research we spoke with organisations and individuals around the UK. This included community theatre companies, craft shops, galleries, chapters of What Next?, and a network of break dancers in north London. Through these conversations we documented the deep interdependencies of the publicly funded arts, the profit making creative industries, and many “un- der the radar” practices of everyday creativity. These interconnections are outlined in the central chapters of the report.

On the basis of these findings, Towards Cultural Democracy demonstrates the need to go beyond a focus on increasing access, and instead expand the ambitions of cultural leadership and cultural policy, proposing a new overarching aim: the promotion of “cultural capability” – the substantive freedom to create culture.

What we are calling “cultural democracy” is when everyone has this substantive freedom to make culture, to give form and value to their experiences. The term capability, here, comes from the work of economist Amartya Sen and philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who together have formulated the capabilities approach to international development. The central idea is that GDP is a poor indicator of development, and that this should be replaced by a focus on “substantive freedoms” – what people can choose to do and to be.
Drawing on these ideas, we argue that the promotion of cultural capability for everyone constitutes a viable alternative ambition for cultural policy, beyond the deficit model. In practical terms, this may take many forms, and our report makes an invitation to new collaborations - including, for example, new strategic partnerships between “arts” organisations and third sector organisations outside of the arts, aimed towards the promotion of cultural capability.

This is not a zero-sum game. We are not arguing that policy levers – including monetary investments – should be used in new ways that undermine professional practice and the wealth of great art already existing in the UK. Far from it. Instead, our research indicates that by expanding our understanding of what cultural opportunity consists of, beyond ac- cess, and taking more creative approaches to supporting people’s substantive freedoms to make culture – wherever it may take place – this will not only benefit those currently outside the system of public funded arts, but will make the UK’s cultural ecology even more vital.

The full report, including our specific recommendations, can be accessed at www.kcl.ac.uk/Cultural/-/Projects/ Towards-cultural-democracy.aspx. To receive a hard copy of the report, and to keep in touch with our ongoing research into the possibilities for cultural democracy, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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