Martin Bright

New Deal of the Mind at 11 Downing Street

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I don't think it's quite right for me to keep promoting New Deal of the Mind here on my Spectator blog. That should happen elsewhere and will.

But just in case readers are interested, the launch meeting at Number 11 Downing Street was a fascinating affair. Cabinet Ministers Andy Burnham and James Purnell pledged their support as did opposition culture spokesman Ed Vaizey.

It's probably best to let others who were there speak about this so check out Lynne Featherstone's report of the event. Lynne has been a great supporter of the initiative, designed to harness the innovative potential of the creative industries during the downturn. She made the following key point:

"Admiration for the idea was fulsome – but it took Trevor Phillips (Equality and Human Rights Commission) to put money on the table with the challenge for others to do same and for a partner to come forward to set up a project. It will be interesting to see if the others come forward – or if everyone just waits for someone else to do it!"D.D. Guttenplan, London correspondent of The Nation made a great contribution to the Downing Street event, following up an introduction to the cultural projects of FDR's New Deal by Professor Alan Brinkley of Columbia University. He blogged on the subject on the Nation's blog, The Notion. Don Guttenplan is one of the most generous intellects I know, but the following was beyond the call of duty:

"This morning's gathering was also testimony to the power of an idea. We had been invited to launch The New Deal of the Mind,, the brainchild of journalist Martin Bright, who in an article in the New Statesman argued that by putting all of their emphasis on bailing out banks or big, long-term infrastructure projects the British government was missing out on one of the few undisputed successes of the New Deal, the Federal Arts Programs. 'If ministers have decided to go down the route of work creation backed by borrowing,' urged Bright, 'they should at least do it with some imagination and flair.'"The contributions made by the various figures from the creative industries will soon appear on the New Deal of the Mind website. There are already some dissident voices. Matthew Taylor, formerly in charge of policy at Number 10 Downing Street and now head of the Royal Society of Arts ("not an arts organisation", according to Matthew), for instance. Matthew wrote on his blog yesterday that the idea needs sharper focus. He is right of course. The event was designed precisely to solicit responses that will give the idea that focus. I know Matthew left the event offering to help in every way he can, so I look forward to hearing his ideas. His plan for saving local journalism by getting reporters to work on community websites is inspired. I hope he will join us in making it a reality. I know this was Matthew's way of saying he wants to get involved and I appreciate the support.

We know New Deal of the  Mind has a duty to deliver on its promise of job creation. I'll keep readers of the blog informed of significant developments, but the propaganda will now switch to the New Deal of the Mind blog.