The mindset and language of Tory politicians discussing broadcasting and the arts is disturbing. Charlotte Higgins highlights the letter which the previous tradition secretary Oliver Dowden wrote to Arts Council England and other bodies about their approach to challenges of contested heritage being “consistent with the government’s position” (An ambiance of risk lingers more than the arts – and it’s designed by the govt, 6 December).
Robert Jenrick, then communities secretary, said in January: “We will not permit folks to censor our past.” A month later Dowden explained: “Purging uncomfortable aspects of our earlier does practically nothing but hurt our comprehension of it.”
Initiatives such as the Countrywide Trust’s Colonial Countryside have been a particular emphasis for their criticism. But it is grotesque to propose that historic research that assists us to understand the hyperlinks in between British region residences and slavery is about “purging” or “censoring”. Alternatively, it deepens our understanding – but Dowden threatened to ban the use of community funds for Colonial Countryside and recommended the Countrywide Belief was violating Charity Commission principles.
By the way, a new chair of the Charity Commission has nonetheless to be declared by the new lifestyle secretary, Nadine Dorries. Let’s hope we have not experienced the type of overt political interference in this appointment as we had with the Ofcom chair fiasco.
Upton, West Yorkshire
Charlotte Higgins is appropriate to concern the developing atmosphere of risk to general public funding of the arts. Even so, this has been latent for extended than is possibly acknowledged. Raymond Williams in 1979 experienced currently redescribed the “arm’s duration principle” as “wrist’s length” in a Political Quarterly posting recording his practical experience as vice-chairman of the Arts Council.
About the latest many years, Arts Council England alone has presided about a local climate of dread. Central governing administration has constantly been there, hovering just out of sight – in some cases benignly, at times with menace. One lengthier-time period threat is that, just after community authority capacity in arts assist has been all but eroded above the past 10 decades, England’s massively overcentralised arts funding agency has a monopoly in excess of equally Treasury and lottery funding allocations.
Main government, English regional arts boards consortium, 1987-2000