A response to the Conservative manifesto on Culture (or lack of)

A quick scan through the Conservative manifesto reveals there is no section dedicated to arts and culture. Instead, we get this:

Prosperous towns and cities across Britain

Our towns and cities excel when they have vibrant cultural life. Britain’s arts and cultureare world-beating and are at the heart of the regeneration of much of modern Britain. We will continue our strong support for the arts, and ensure more of that support is basedoutside London. We will maintain free entry to the permanent collections of our major national museums and galleries. We will introduce a new cultural development fund to use cultural investment to turn around communities. We will hold a Great Exhibition of the North in 2018, to celebrate amazing achievements in innovation, the arts and engineering.

Resisting the temptation to resort to Star Trek quips about live long and prosper will only mask my contempt for a political party that can only value the arts in relation to prosperity. They will use cultural investment to ‘turn around’ communities. Blatent instrumentalism – sticking-plaster mentality for places that have been neglected and local authorities stripped to the bone by austerity measures. 

But wait, how exciting and forward thinking – a Great Exhibition! Returning to Victorian times for our cultural references is much safer that looking at politics today. It even has a website already, with a video that I had to stop watching, as it made me feel a little seasick. For some odd reason, all the people speaking have been told to move towards the camera in a strange, zombie like way.

 If May gets her way we’ll have fox hunting back and workhouses too. The foodbanks are just the first step. Bring back Dickens.

Published by carolyn black

I'm an artist and also commission contemporary art in unusual locations. As a producer, I fundraise, curate, project manage and deliver projects. I'm also a writer and film-maker.

2 thoughts on “A response to the Conservative manifesto on Culture (or lack of)

  1. Ha ha… Well written Carolyn! Tory cultural policy builds on New Labour vision – art in the service of state, local authorities, finance, corporations and property developers. Blatant instrumentalism as you say! This is a recipe for gentrification, social cleansing and middle-class façades like Placemaking (including but also far beyond the Creative People and Places programme). And social capital is the glue that holds this massive abuse of personal freedom, social justice and, indeed, art. We need a revolutionary shift in personal freedom, social justice and art away from manipulation, exploitation and instrumentalism. New Labour then the Tories have laid waste to these essential human rights. Corbyn’s Labour offer hope but stops way short of really dismantling the neoliberal disease that is eating away at our individualism, our societies and communities, and our art and culture (in the very broadest sense)… Nevertheless, Labour today offers hope and the beginnings of justice and liberation. We must fight for our rights. We must take back not just the city, but also our creativity, our cultures!


    1. Glad you got the ha-ha bit, because it’s the only way to respond really. Am not sure I agree entirely with you on this, as you know. I think there are some very good things coming out of Creative People & Places. What irritates me the most is the fact that anyone should bang on about innovation then just dig up existing & ancient models – ooh, it worked then, let’s do it again! And nothing they propose is ‘new’ or original. CPP is already happening, so is this Great Exhibition. I’m more interested in the sloppy thinking than I am in the party politics side. I’m not going deeply into anything, as you have. This is simply a lighthearted response to start my week.


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