Clair Bishop argues that the cuts to culture cannot be seen as separate from an assault on welfare, education, and social equality “The rhetoric of an “age of austerity” is being used as a cloak for the privatization of all public services and a reinstatement of class privilege: a sad retreat from the most civilized Keynesian initiatives of the post-war period, in which education, healthcare, and culture were understood to be a democratic right freely available to all.
Bishop explains how Thatcher enforced a populist, profit-making model, how New Labour also viewed culture as an economic generator, while recognizing the role of creativity and culture in commerce. The age of “creative economy” and “knowledge economy” has started.
The slogan was “everyone is creative,” presenting the government’s mission as one that aims to “free the creative potential of individuals.”
“However, it is important to recognize that this aim of unleashing creativity was not designed to foster greater social happiness, the authentic realization of human potential, or the utopian imagination of alternatives, but rather to accelerate the processes of neoliberalism.” -…-
“It became important to develop creativity in schools, not so that everyone could be an artist (as Joseph Beuys declared), but because the population is increasingly required to assume the individualization associated with creativity: to be entrepreneurial, embrace risk, look after their own self-interest, be their own brands, and be free of dependence on the state.”
One of the Arts Council’s new goals is to promote private philanthropy—“a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action.” She argues on how experimental projects rarely receive support, while private sponsorship encourages self-censorship and the triumph of market imperatives.
The new moto is: Sacrifice=Volontear
Bishop explains the shift in education towards the shrinking of Arts and Humanities and the sponsoring of un-political, market oriented research. (Just see also what Phds are sponsored in Switzerland!)
“Under neoliberalism, the university is no longer tied to the production of culture and moral values, but to the profit motive (or what has been called “academic capitalism”)”
Now it is the free market that will organize education.
Bishop argues on the fact that those who support the cuts in the arts they say that in this crisis arts are a luxury. She argues on how this “actually creates and perpetuates this lie: without public subsidies, culture and the humanities are actually transformed from human necessities into luxuries, becoming the preserve of a wealthy few. The fight against cuts to arts and humanities funding is not a question of defending a luxury, but should be seen as part of a broader opposition to the destruction of the welfare state and the whole principle of austerity measures in general, in which the working and lower middle classes have to bear the brunt of the bank bailout to sustain the status quo. The “age of austerity” is only a screen for the further dismantlement all public services in the UK (from the NHS to free education to public funding for the arts), the most civilized of Britain’s accomplishments in the twentieth century. The end of public funding is the end of the public sphere, our most progressive institutions, and their commitment to non-commercial activity as a good in its own right”.
read the full article