Hokey cokey

val_danceDo we want politicians in or out of the cultural policy inner circle?  The arms length principle of public arts patronage meets the investment needs of the creative economy and cultural democracy, and the results are perplexing.  We want political ownership but question political involvement.  For example the RSA’s Adam Lent conjures up Ken Robinson’s vision of creative formal education in a rousing call for a creative volksgeist but then insists that politicians need to be kept out.  The vision is that the creative entrepreneurship model can translate into a creativity revolution that will ride the wave of a consumer shift to the authentic, bespoke and human.    But Robinson’s inspiring work never seemed to achieve much political traction and the creative class may have had its moment in some economies.  Perhaps we are primarily talking about a need for a C21st restatement of UK’s mixed cultural economy and the interdependencies of commerce, creativity and society.

The global position is equally challenging, even if the theme of the 6th World Summit on Arts & Culture, currently underway in Santiago, looks at new models for cultural development.   These are NGO voices and the value of cultural policy is paramount, perhaps most elegantly expressed in a call to build on The World Cultural Summit 2013 UNESCO Hangzhou Declaration (http://post2015.org/2013/11/13/culture-as-goal-in-the-post-2015-development-agenda/).   Sometimes, however, beautifully crafted and evidenced papers and arguments are iceberg tips, poking out from submerged masses of activity, and it can be difficult to disentangle the wish list from the deliverable.

The papers for the World Summit do make the link between public involvement and the weight that cultural policy wields, just as the creative development agenda acknowledges the need for populism and access to the tools of creativity.   Let us keep working on a culture and creativity story that works for both politicians and the wider public.

Photo by Clarita, morgueFile creative commons

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