26 March 2005

Today's Guardian includes an excellent article on the relationship of "government" to the arts. I can do little better than quote the closing paragraph.

If we have to look for a political justification for the arts we might argue that the arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings, hence equip us to understand people who are different from ourselves in gender or class or race or religion — or simply that they're not us. This argument might help those who believe that we're engaged in creating "a new world order" and are not afraid of using force to assist their argument. The arts add to the sum of human understanding and happiness, and governments ought not to be ashamed of subsidising weapons of happiness. After all, they're keen enough on the other sort.

Richard Eyre, "Ballot-Box Blues" (26 Mar 05). Indeed; and, too, one should remember that the rich begin spending money on art before they begin spending it on security, and spend far more on art than on security. <SARCASM> What that means, I'm not entirely certain; but it does say that governments need to pay a lot more attention to what their wealthiest citizens want. </SARCASM>