X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Blogs

Why criticism is good for the Arts Council

30 March 2011

8:42 AM

30 March 2011

8:42 AM

Today we will hear our fate. As the head of one of hundreds of organisations waiting to hear whether we receive Arts Council funding, I have to admit these are nervous moments. My small
organisation, New Deal of the Mind, was set up two years ago to help young unemployed people find jobs in the arts and the creative industries. We
happen to think this is worth a small amount of government funding. My attitude to the Arts Council will hugely depend on whether or not it is enlightened enough to see the worth of what we do.

And this, I’m afraid, is the Arts Council’s biggest problem. The system of clientelism which it operates means that its servant organisations (many of which are fully dependent on it
for their survival) are not in a position to question its driving philosophy or suggest ideas for reform.

Many within the organisation felt aggrieved at the conclusions of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report this week, which decided the Arts Council had, at times, been wasteful with
public money. But this was a cross-party committee which had reached a consensus. The Arts Council needs to listen.

[Alt-Text]


The organisation, which has been generous to New Deal of the Mind during our start-up period, remains too sensitive to criticism. Not so long ago we were asked to write a risk assessment of what
the media might say if the Arts Council did not do more  to create work for young people trying to break into the sector. We suggested, as carefully as we could, that it might be said that the
overpaid fat cat quangocrats of the arts elite had chosen to pass over Britain’s future artists in favour of vainglorious “grands projets”. One hurt and angry senior official
called me and to whether I thought she was an “overpaid fat cat quangocrat.” She hasn’t spoken to me since.

As it happens, the individual involved was hugely dynamic, impeccably professional and deeply committed to the future of the arts in this country. She was simply not used to criticism from client
organisations.

This situation has to change. Let’s take a small example. It is running joke within the arts that it is impossible to get hold of anyone from the Arts Council on a Friday afternoon. The
miracles of flexitime mean that a large number of employees of the organisation simply choose to clock off early at the end of the week. Arts organisations small and large raise a knowing eyebrow,
share their frustration at this petty irritation. But no one says a word.

Meanwhile, the whole arts world has been caught flatfooted by the cuts. We now all need to look at new models of funding and the Arts Council needs to take a lead. I am agnostic about this.
Grant-based funding has always been a part of the British model and it has been, in many cases, hugely successful in nurturing creativity. Ed Vaizey is the first to acknowledge the way the subsidised sector feeds and enriches
the more commercial end of the creative industries.

But in these difficult times, arts organisations need to make new arguments. During a recent visit to Israel I visited The Lab, an arts centre housed in an old railway shed in Jerusalem. Rather
than receiving state subsidy, The Lab is funded by a foundation set up by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a high-tech investment company set up by an entrepreneur, Erel Margolit, who happened to
have a passion for the arts. There is a virtuous circle created by the relationship between the high-tech businesses, many of which are themselves in the creative industries, and the arts centre,
which is experimental, innovative and embedded in the community via projects involving 2,500 children from 16 schools across Jerusalem.

The Arts Council could learn a lot from the Lab if only it would listen. So could the government.

I realise that if we are disappointed today, much of what I have said will seem like sour grapes. Either way, I hope we can help develop a more constructive conversation about arts and creativity
in Britain, where criticism and new ideas are seen as a useful contribution to the debate. 

UPDATE:
Shortly after this was posted Martin Bright was informed that his organisation had not received Arts Council funding.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close