Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain

Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 1781685916

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Britain began the twenty-first century convinced of its creativity. Throughout the New Labour era, the visual and performing arts, museums and galleries, were ceaselessly promoted as a stimulus to national economic revival, a post-industrial revolution where spending on culture would solve everything, from national decline to crime. Tony Blair heralded it a “golden age.” Yet despite huge investment, the audience for the arts remained a privileged minority. So what went wrong?

In Cultural Capital, leading historian Robert Hewison gives an in-depth account of how creative Britain lost its way. From Cool Britannia and the Millennium Dome to the Olympics and beyond, he shows how culture became a commodity, and how target-obsessed managerialism stifled creativity. In response to the failures of New Labour and the austerity measures of the Coalition government, Hewison argues for a new relationship between politics and the arts.

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A Brief History of Britain 1485-1660: The Tudor and Stuart Dynasties

The Black Death

Austerity Britain: 1945-51 (Tales of a New Jerusalem, Volume 1)















Enquiry, chaired by the grandstanding MP Gerald Kaufman. While the Arts Council refused to publish more than a summary of its own internal investigation, which showed that it had kept no proper financial control of the Lottery grant, the conclusions of Kaufman’s committee, published in December, were forthright: ‘There is no future for the Royal Opera House unless someone accepts responsibility for the sorry train of events.’37 It would be better to see the Opera House run by a philistine with.

Demanded that monetary values be attributed to all the potential impacts of any proposed policy, as the first step towards an analysis that ‘quantifies in monetary terms as many of the costs and benefits of a proposal as feasible, including items for which the market does not provide a satisfactory measure of economic value’.35 Thus, while acknowledging that there might be aspects of a programme – such as social or environmental benefits, or the influence of good design – that were difficult to.

Bureaucracies, and more like wealth-creating corporations competing in a market for resources. Yet, although the intention was to achieve the freedom of manoeuvre and efficiency attributed to the market, in practice those responsible for delivering public policy became more constrained. Strategic plans had to be prepared, objectives identified, benchmarks set, targets established, measures agreed and impacts assessed. The master of the system was the Treasury. It decided the spending allocations.

Taken on the basis of a cost/benefit analysis of alternative options – a process codified in the Treasury’s regularly updated manual, The Green Book.21 In March 1999, the ideology of managerialism was given a New Labour spin in the White Paper Modernizing Government, which sought to instil ‘joined-up government’ by encouraging partnership working and ‘cross-cutting initiatives’. Making these work, however, called for increased monitoring and target-setting, just as Blair had promised in his.

General world-disgust that they expressed reflected the individualism of the times. As the theatre critic Aleks Sierz writes in his study of the genre: ‘While it could be read as an example of the “young country” that New Labour – with its attempts to rebrand Britain – tried to promote, it was much more raw, savage and critical than the platitudinous ideas thrown up by the Cool Britannia phenomenon.’1 Though not confined to the Royal Court, ‘in-yer-face theatre’ was largely a metropolitan.

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