‘We must demonstrate the healthy dividends that our investment continues to pay’.
Take ten seconds to guess which government minister said these words and what they were talking about.
What did you guess? If you said culture secretary Maria Miller talking about the culture industry you are deeply cynical, but you are also correct. In a speech today Mrs Miller, who is also Minister for women, described UK culture as a ’compelling product’.
I cannot help but feel the minister, who the Guardian note worked in advertising before beginning her political career, is missing the point about culture. Culture, as with a number of public services, is not meant to make money. The dividends we gain from investing in a theatre company or a museum are not economic. In return for our cash we get to see a new play or learn about our history in a unique way.
The more of the speech you read the more it becomes clear this government has not truly understood what culture is and what it is for. That this government thinks culture should help ‘to develop soft power, and to compete, as a nation, in both trade and investment’ demonstrates the narrow vision of the government.
A key point alluded to by the Telegraph is that cuts will be affecting many daily costs for government departments, but ‘not the welfare system’.
‘The NHS, schools and international development are all being spared’ Peter Dominiczak goes on to add. There are some who continue to believe cuts still ‘need’ to be made to the budget, with the argument being that they must come from somewhere.
But austerity isn’t working, and cutting the welfare or culture budgets amounts to a scorched earth policy. In the long run these ‘efficiency savings’ will be bad for all of us. The government needs to take the blinders off.