Minister for broad stuff

It’s been a while since I posted, and I apologise to anyone missing my random insights. (I don’t hold with commenting when you have nothing to say.)

Between last time and now we’ve had a general election, and the resulting and ongoing upheaval continues today with the announcement of cuts – though we don’t yet know what the impact might be on the arts.

However, my main preoccupation at the moment is the new line-up at the DCMS – all four white, male, middle-class members of it. (Added to this, the photos are awful and they’re not even wearing interesting ties.) It’s not surprising that Ed Vaizey is up there, having nailed his colours to the mast years ago, saying that he definitely wanted the job. But what is the job? It used to be Arts Minister, but now it’s “Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries”, and is a joint post with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, or BIS.

Vaizey will have responsibility not only for the arts, but also for Media, Museums and Galleries, Telecoms and Broadband, the Digital Switchover, the Creative Industries and Libraries. (Phew! I hope he’s got somewhere to lie down.) The main difference here between him and his predecessor Margaret Hodge is the emphasis on broadcasting and broadband. The Tories have shown themselves to be extremely keen on this area, not least because it’s where the money is. Linking the DCMS with BIS is and interesting move, particularly considering that it’s Dr Vince who’s in charge over there. But will the broadening of the already broad base of the arts ministry mean that the arts themselves get less attention and possibly less support?

And is that a good or a bad thing? Having less ministerial attention might prove a blessing, since there would be less time for meddling with the sector. Yet it seems to me that this shift could herald a gradual undoing of Lord (Chris) Smith’s achievement in bringing culture to the forefront.

I interviewed Ed Vaizey for Arts Professional back in June 2008 (I’m afraid this link won’t work unless you’re a subscriber). I’m just revisiting some of the things he said then and, having experienced some surprise while doing so, am looking to get a PDF for you to download. Watch this space.

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Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 11:12  Comments (1)  

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  1. Crikey, what a shower. What a hideously white, middle-aged, male, middle-class bunch of careerists. Particularly how MALE… Actually what’s offended me most recently is a report in the paper of Jeremy ‘Unt offering us (the Arts) his “love”. His “*love*”..? We’ve got lots of that already, thanks, Mister’unt, how do you think we’ve kept going all these years?


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