Peter Hoskin

The democratisation of culture 

The democratisation of culture 
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Another interview caught my eye in today's Observer - this one with the new Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham.  In it, Burnham outlines his plans to inject 'punter power' into the top sports and culture organisations across the land:

"I'm a big believer that those who invest passion, energy and commitment in an organisation, whether that's their football club or local museum, should help run it.  It's a good principle to have artists and practitioners on the boards of arts organisations and to have representatives of supporters in the boardroom at every football club."

He also discusses the introduction of "free weeks", during which tickets for performing arts events would be distributed to members of the public free-of-charge.

Personally, I think these democratic measures can only be applauded.  When something benefits from taxpayers' money - as the arts do - then the Government should do all they can to make it accessible to the general public.  Beyond this, it's just plain nice to see a politician making his mark so quickly and so assuredly.  All early signs suggest that Burnham wants to change things to the direct benefit of the public.  And, in doing so, he looks set to transform the position of Culture Secretary from a non-job to one that makes very palpable difference.  If this doesn't make him a "minister to watch" then I don't know what else could.

Of course, idealism is often scuppered by reality (there's the dangerous question of where "punter power" should start and end), but at least there exists a cabinet minister who's setting out an identifiable and coherent vision.  If Burham's plans come to fruition then so much the better.