Posted by: okathleen | October 28, 2008

The highest of man’s activities?

Arts Council Remit...

Arts Council Remit...


“Great art inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.

Between 2008 and 2011 we will invest in excess of £1.6 billion of public money from the goverment and the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.”


An interesting claim by the Arts Council. Especially with credit crunching and recession biting. Is great art going to make life better?

I have just handed in my Independent Study Proposal. The opening paragraph featured this quotation from Goethe:

“We ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

Entitled ‘The Immaculate Introspection’ the proposal wandered and waffled around some themes and ideas. I have nothing concrete yet. Although listening to two members of the Arts Council last week, maybe I shouldn’t be too concerned about this. They were worried that creativity was being stifled by the overwhelming amount of bureaucracy that has to be negotiated by applicants for funding. In effect, how to weigh the product before it has been made? I felt a little like this trying to devote 2000 words to a concept that is still nebulous and intangible. A creative study cannot be framed until it has been formed?


Today I ordered books. Lavallo about stress and the physiological effects of…. Gombrich on the History of Art, Visual Culture, an Open University Reader, Ways of Seeing – John Berger, and Practices of Looking by Sturger. £50 worth of texts, I am hoping these are going to inspire me, a mere drop in the ocean compared to the £1.6 billion put aside for inspiration by the Arts Council.

(This is the detail of how the Arts Council intends to inspire and transform, with particular reference to the 5 hours per week per child exposure to ‘culture’). – this is an interactive competition run by the AC. Create your own space using art works supplied by them. Hmmm, why not create your own space using art works created by you. Feels a little like an IKEA shopping experience.

Art  the highest of man’s activities? Art is the activity in which, being ‘disinterested’, man is at once wholly free and wholly at rest. Art is a form of ‘play’. It therefore has a privileged place, not only in human self-knowledge, but in the life of the state. It is through ‘aesthetic education’ that the moral and cognitive faculties of man achieve their free expression, and so develop in accordance with their innate principles of harmony. The good state must therefore both encourage and embody that aesthetic understanding which brings the greatest intuition of unity between man and man and between man and nature…. so says Schiller.

I suppose 5 hours of cultural exposure per week and £1.6 billion over the next 3 years is a stab at this aesthetic education. A remedy to gang culture, knife crime and war in the Middle East?


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