‘Tory dossier says Labour will cancel cuts to the arts budget. We won’t.’ So tweeted the Labour press office in the first week of 2015, fashioning a first-rate PR balls-up from its efforts to defend the shadow chancellor’s spending policies. There’s no easier way to rile the arts establishment in Britain than by disparaging its central funding arrangements; even after years of austerity, it still feels unexpected to hear tough talk on the arts from the party that, in the guise of New Labour, made so much effort in the late 1990s to cosy up to artists and performers.
Then again, the tactless tone of that tweet seems only too familiar. Increased government support for the ‘creative industries’ in the last two decades has had many positive outcomes, but it has also repeatedly shown up the jarring imperatives of politicians and those who work in the arts, and the