All Purpose Solutions=No Reason To Support

There was a very powerful illustration in Spike Online this week about why the arts industry should be careful about promoting benefits of artistic activity that don’t include artistic qualities.

Tiffany Jenkins notes that recently seven major arts entities in England teamed up on a proposal that stated funding the arts “will improve: ‘participation’, ‘self-esteem’ ‘community cohesion’, social regeneration’, ‘economic vitality’ and ‘health’.”

Also recently, Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated that the 2012 Olympics “will increase volunteering, create community cohesion and tackle obesity.” The Treasury has suggested the games will result in “urban regeneration, to economic prosperity.”

Says Jenkins (my emphasis)-

Hence culture and sport find themselves competing, not as discreet public goods or ends in their own right, but as interchangeable vehicles aiming to deliver on a set of identical priorities, which does neither of them any favours. Once the arts are viewed merely as a tool for delivering prescribed economic or social outcomes, there is no reason why the arts should be favoured.

A bit of background if you hadn’t been following the news- The arts community in England is quite upset because their funding got cut by

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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