Francois Matarasso – What do you do with £1.57 billion for culture?

It took a while, and a lot of concerted pressure, but the British government has decided not to be remembered for allowing the UK’s cultural life to shrivel and die. It has gone back to the magic money tree it discovered in March and brought home £1.57 billion to protect the ‘future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues’. It would take monumental bad faith not to applaud what the government has done for culture at a time when almost every part of society is asking for help. It is also right to remember that it had to be pushed into helping keep poor children fed during the summer (at a cost of £120 million) and that 30% of British children live in poverty: celebrating culture’s windfalls will always be ambiguous in a country with 2,000 foodbanks. Public spending on culture cannot be separated from these realities, but that is part of a larger political argument about what kind of society we choose to be. That argument continues, reinvigorated by the existential questions raised by the pandemic, but culture is the focus of this blog and the government’s rescue fund raises particular and urgent questions

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.