Variant issue 7    back to issue list


In the early days of World War II, when Hitler was dividing up Poland, he told the two Generals he appointed that he would ask no questions about their methods. It is a common enough euphemism in politics and the exercise of power to this day. When questions are asked about methods they unearth the fact that power acts covertly to conceal its part in the ruthless consequences of its design. 
In this issue, Marshall Anderson's Another Story of Art Development is not presented as a salacious expose--more rather an example of the norm. That there will be conflicting opinions of his account is unavoidable since the statements of the parties involved themselves--officialdom--are at odds with each other. 
Our interview with the Glasgow Media Group--we would hope--will be read carefully and encourage a reconsideration of the theories which have led to such betrayals of common sense and progressive politics. The 'cultural compliance' referred to in the article is the culpable failure to address the enforcement of anachronistic right-wing politics, through an adherence to a view of culture which is based on intellectual meaninglessness. This compliance carries with it a failure to question the free market--despite the effects it is having on our society. Masses of people are unemployed--deemed to have no use in life--because the market has dictated so, and that this ideology cannot be challenged. 
In the arts, and many other sectors of society, the involvement of a mass of people is touted as a worthy criterion by funding bodies, except when it comes to decision making. Consultation is considered something to be put into the hands of professional consultants at public expense; public consultation is the joke of organising a meeting to tell the public what they are getting. Decisions are taken before public consultation, during it or by ignoring it. This taxation without representation is wide open for factions to follow a line of interest. The private will incline towards partiality; the general will incline towards impartiality. Talk of independence abounds while the centralisation of the arts and culture increases.
Our open discussion on artists' initiatives will hopefully encourage debate on the collusion of private business and public development agencies in deciding what is 'culturally' relevant in Dublin and Belfast. Aware only of the corporate facade of such schemes in Ireland, the Scottish Arts Council--blatantly evading its own responsibility in decision making and monitoring--asks in its visionary 'Scottish Arts in the 21st Century' document: 
"Does the subsidy system diminish entrepreneurial spirit of artists and arts organisations? Are there ways of supporting the Arts in which this could be avoided or which entrepreneurial spirit could be stimulated?" 
Who wrote this--Baroness Thatcher?* Is their vision of the future that art becomes an adjunct to a corporate logo. Will this even maintain their own position? Can we show entrepreneurial spirit in questioning their methods or are we all to be herded into the ghetto which will be constructed for us? 

*No, Ruth Wishart.