Wednesday, November 01, 2006

RIP Arts Council

Victoria Miro was packed out last night at a party that seemed more like a wake, marking the mass defections from ACE visual arts that have occurred recently. Anyone who had any sort of interesting opinion on contemporary art was essentially given the boot, from Marjorie Althorpe-Guyton on downwards. Four out of the five departmental head have left in total (visual art, theatre, dance & literature), alongside Chief Executive Peter Hewitt who is expected to go in 2008, and many others. The atmosphere of anger and despair at all this was palpable, with quite impassioned speeches easily crossing the line of diplomatic discreteness. Put together with the withdrawal of funding from some of our major national gallery spaces (only the interesting ones, the mainstream is free to prosper of course) and the picture is worse than alarming. Why, even Matt’s Gallery – surely the best gallery in London to anyone who knows anything about art – is threatened with closure as ACE has decided it should now be successful enough to earn more of its revenue commercially. But doh! The non-commercial nature of Matt’s has always been its major selling point, right? Who ARE theses people?

Word has it that Chairman Sir Christopher Frayling is playing the role of ineffectual patsy, allowing the ministers to push through their social inclusion agenda at the cost of intellectual rigour, critique, high culture and all that arty farty nonsense… At a recent meeting of the National Council David Lammy MP went so far as to suggest “stretching the content of the arts envelope to include different aspects of social cohesion”. In other words, less cash for contemporary art, more cash for fucking kid’s workshops!

This government started so well, with Chris Smith, free museum entry and all that. But a narrow interpretation of widening participation that is fixated with spoon feeding young people and the socially excluded has brought us to this terrible, frightening situation. Is no one going to stand up for the virtues of hardcore intellectualism? What about aspiration? Why should we only look forward to a culture that gives everyone equal access to dumbed-down spectacu-tainment-style art (Serota’s phrase “experience vs interpretation") when we could be trying to sustain and build the best intellectual climate in the world?


Anonymous said...

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3:15 pm  
Anonymous juno said...

i agree with this so much, in fact i have been for years, art has become so much about social integration lately that artists should start calling themselves social workers.

6:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rubbish. It's not an either or. Anyone with an intellectual interest in art would no that 'high art' is something to be contested and challenged by as many people as possible. Let alone the fact that our tax dollars should be going to a range of artistic forms and styles made available to as broad an audience as possible. Not merely the run-of-the-mill contemporary art that much of the so-called 'art world' pretend to comprehend at ever more pretentious and closed events.

5:53 pm  
Anonymous sian tiksom said...

governments tend to give out money as a PR exersize and to take not give. how else would they and the numerous quasi autonomous non governmental organizations pay their own huge costs?
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10:35 pm  
Anonymous canvas art said...

Only just seen the date on this post. How do you feel about it all now?

2:50 pm  

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