Episode 001

Cultural Democracy in Practice









Sophie Hope

Owen Kelly



October 12, 2018


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Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly look at the recent report by 64 Million Artists, and the responses it has drawn; and wonder what they thought they were up to.

Although they don’t quote from it directly, they start their discussion from a perspective similar to that proposed by Steven Hadley and Elionora Belfiore in Cultural Democracy & Cultural Policy, an article they wrote in issue 221 of Cultural Trends. They wrote that:

Contemporary articulations of, and engagements with, the ideas of cultural democracy must both reconcile themselves with the nuanced and semi-documented history of cultural democracy and the significant macro-level shifts in economic, technological and social fields which have made an imperative of the need to reassess these arguments… Historical research may provide the foundation for the development of a theory of cultural democracy in relation to the issues of cultural authority and normative allocation of cultural value. This would require the theoretical development of a renewed concept of cultural democracy that acknowledges and addresses the social, cultural and economic changes that have taken place since its first formulation in the 1970s.

The issues that Sophie Hope and Owen Kelly have with Cultural Democracy in Practice lie not in its intentions, which seem good-hearted if naive, but in its lack of any historical perspective, or any suggestion that more sorts of art for more people may not mean the same as cultural democracy.