Old Words: Cultural policy in a post-political age

François Matarasso argues that “The values and practices of contemporary European culture are still defined by ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment, and the period of industrialisation and imperialism with which it is associated.”


Episode 010     August 5, 2022
Contributors    François Matarasso    

In this episode, François Matarasso argues that “The values and practices of contemporary European culture are still defined by ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment, and the period of industrialisation and imperialism with which it is associated. There are older influences, of course: opera emerged in Renaissance Italy, which itself took inspiration from the Classical past. But it is the Enlightenment’s invention of the Fine Arts that implicitly (and carelessly) relegated most human culture to a subordinate position as the ‘not-fine arts’, defined by adjectives such as amateur, traditional, folk or popular arts, as well as new concepts like craft and entertainment.”

He discusses the alternative views of community based arts and concludes that “ to judge from Arts Council England’s strategy document, neither tradition seems to be properly understood by those making cultural policy. Nor do they have an alternative political theory to offer. We are left with no more than good intentions in the place of the democratically accountable exercise of power.”

François Matarasso originally wrote the essay from which this episode springs in 2021 as part of ‘Opera Co-creation and performance’ for the Traction Project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It was published on the Traction website in May 2021. This version was published on 5 August 2022 on ParliamentofDreams.com under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence.


References

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