Welcome to this fortnightly edition of TaitMail from the Arts Industry
24.02.2015

Ed’s promise

The Creative Industries Federation hit the ground running when it launched at the end of November, getting George Osborne to fire the starting pistol. The Chancellor said nothing of any substance, but the fact that he thought the thing was important enough for him to be seen launching it was all that was needed. At a stroke the CIF had put culture, the arts and the creative industries – the “ecosystem” we can call it for short since last week’s Warwick Commission report – several notches up the agenda.
 
Last night the CIF pushed it up a couple more by getting the Leader of the Opposition to give what, given the timing, amounts to a policy statement about the arts, albeit light of any financial detail. Ed Miliband had been well briefed and he performed well, taking questions and answering the ones he could while deftly batting back the ones he couldn’t (…this is very important, but what do YOU think?,,,). He knew the tropes in the ecosystem’s current arguments: about the importance of creativity in education; job opportunities in the fastest growing industry; arts in higher education; equality of access and opportunity; local authority support.
 
And that could be enough for now – we didn’t need to be promised a “Prime Minister’s committee on the arts, culture and creative industries” whose members will be  “leading figures from the arts and culture world, drawn from a whole host of backgrounds from right across the country” and whose job will be to “bring key issues of concern in the arts, culture and creative industries directly to the attention of the Prime Minister”. As the professor sitting next mean groaned, “God save us from yet another bloody committee”.
 
We could have done without being assured that “your value” is recognised across government – “We” are worth £76 billion a year in value added, “they” shouldn’t need to be reminded.
 
And we didn’t need to be made aware of Ed’s devotion to the arts exemplified by his joy in sending his toddlers scurrying down the slope in the Tate’s Turbine Hall.
 
What we needed was what we got: a party leader putting the arts on the election menu early on, even if he couldn’t make any solid promises, it's never happened before, and we have Nicky Morgan coming up to explain herself, and Harriet Harman going head to head with Ed Vaizey to look forward to in future CIF events.
 
And on the 50th anniversary of Jennie Lee's first ever arts policy speech it would have been nice to have had an assurance that the present shadow culture secretary is so welded to her brief that she is determined to be the actual culture secretary post-May 7, but you can’t have everything…
 
 

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