Episode 010

Culture & the Cultural Cities Enquiry









Last week the report of the Cultural Cities Enquiry appeared, published by a consortium of Core Cities, Key Cities, consultants and arts funding agencies in the UK. Sophie Hope, Owen Kelly & Stephen Pritchard sat down to discuss what the report says and doesn’t say; and the ways in which it does and doesn’t say these things.

They broadened their discussion to look at the language of the report and the model of culture that seems to underlie the assumptions that the report makes, especially given that the report makes much of “city-wide plans for development of creative talent pathways”.

Sophie questioned whether the publication constituted the results of an enquiry at all, while Stephen suggested that the language should not surprise us, given that much of the work had resulted from the efforts of seconded members of Virgin Money. Owen asked how the view of culture posited here sits alongside the unlicensed cultural creativity we can observe in phenomena from the establishment of Rough Trade in the eighties, through rave culture, to drill music today.

They noted that, when the Arts Council of Great Britain used to discuss community art, it always took great pains to deny that it wanted to define it. Imagine our surprise then to find in this month’s report that “This Enquiry has taken a deliberately broad outlook that does not seek to define the boundaries of culture”.