An argument for the arts in good times and bad

Posted on: July 13, 2010

“The arts feel under siege,” writes Robert Hewison in the July-August issue of Britain’s The Art Newspaper. “The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has to cut £88 million from this year’s spending. Deeper cuts are expected after the comprehensive spending review in the autumn. No wonder the Arts Council England (ACE) is desperate for help in making its case. After decades of public and private initiatives, reports, conference and consultations, we are still looking for a ‘rational’ argument for funding the arts. … There needs to be a case that stands up in good times or bad. Since the 1980s we have become used to hearing about the economic importance of the arts: they create employment, stimulate expenditure, attract tourists. … To convince the public, and not just the government, an argument has to be made that shows that the arts are worth funding, in and for themselves. … A cultural economics that captures the value of the arts has to understand value in use, and that involves broader ways of understanding ourselves and our world, for instance, anthropology and environmentalism. The value in use of the arts is that they help a society make sense of itself. … Culture is a social language that we would be dumb without.”

Posted July 13, 2010