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Über dieses Buch

This book focuses on cultural policy in the UK between 1997 and 2010 under the Labour party (or 'New Labour', as it was temporarily rebranded). It is based on interviews with major figures and examines a range of policy areas including the arts, creative industries, copyright, film policy, heritage, urban regeneration and regional policy.



1. Culture, Politics and Equality: The Challenge for Social Democracy

This book seeks to advance understanding of cultural policy, public policy and politics. It pays particular attention to the way in which cultural policy responded to, and sought to shape, changing relations between culture and economy. It does so via a case study of cultural policies in the UK between 1997 and 2010.
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

2. New Labour, Culture and Creativity

In 2007, towards the end of his time as UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair gave a speech at the Tate Modern gallery in London to representatives of the UK arts world—senior creative personnel and administrators in the main UK arts institutions, and those involved in the various bodies that support and lobby on behalf of them. His speech was also, of course, aimed beyond these figures, to those interested in the arts and culture who would hear about the speech via the media. Blair was self-consciously seeking to shape future histories of New Labour’s record on the arts and culture. The speech offers a helpful summary of what Blair and others in government (including at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the ministry with responsibility for culture) saw as the central arts and culture achievements of New Labour.1
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

3. The Arts: Access, Excellence and Instrumentalism

In his speech at Tate Modern, with which we opened Chapter 2, Tony Blair claimed that the previous ten years, since Labour came to power, had seen ‘a renaissance of British culture’ and that one contributor to a Downing Street seminar had said that the period would come to be remembered as a ‘golden age’.1 What happens in the arts and culture in a nation is only ever partially a matter of government action, and we have no intention of systematically assessing the overall cultural vitality of the UK during the period under discussion. That is a worthwhile project, but our main brief is cultural policy, and we have two main aims in this chapter. The first is to examine the degree to which Labour’s cultural policies added to or hindered the thriving of the arts. The second is to assess what, if anything, they did to shift fundamental inequalities regarding access to the arts and culture.
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

4. What Was Creative Industries Policy? Film, Copyright and the Shift to Creative Economy

No idea is more strongly associated with New Labour’s cultural policies than that of the ‘creative industries’. The term and some aspects of the way in which New Labour used it were picked up by national and local governments across the world (Cunningham, 2007; Flew, 2012; Ross, 2009). They were attracted not only by its seeming potential for justifying cultural expenditure of various kinds, but also by its association with the electoral success and modernising image of New Labour and its figurehead Tony Blair.
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

5. Cultural Policy and the Regions

As we saw in the previous chapter, critics of UK creative industries policy have argued that there was very little actual policy at the national level, despite the volume of statements of intent, strategy papers, ‘think-pieces’ and rhetoric (Oakley, 2004, 2006). The majority of activity in this field took place at the regional level, through the activities and investments of a perplexing array of organisations. What we see in this case is perhaps the supreme case among many examples of ‘policy attachment’ (Gray, 2004) under New Labour, as the ‘creative industries’ concept was attached to regional economic development. In this way, what was largely a discourse at the national level—supported by rapidly gathered data in the form of the mapping documents (Channer, 2013)—became enacted through the creation of local support networks, small-scale development of workspace, programmes for skills development, and the provision of sector-specific business advice (O’Connor and Gu, 2010).
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

6. Policy Innovation: Nesta and Creative Partnerships

Despite New Labour’s desire to be associated with innovation and with modernisation, some aspects of cultural policy remained remarkably consistent throughout their period of government. There was still an Arts Council at the end of the period and its client base remained remarkably stable, and, while a whole variety of organisations were renamed or given slightly altered missions (e.g., the formation of the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council), funding for design, for crafts and for museums and galleries continued to be administered in a way that was recognisable from previous administrations.1 This was a far cry from what had been discussed in opposition, when some within the Labour Party had considered more radical changes to cultural funding, looking favourably on ideas such as the proposed ‘Council for Creativity’ (Arts Council, n.d.), which would have merged the Arts Council with the Crafts Council, Design Council and British Film Institute to form a single cultural funding agency. A version of this emerged later in the New Labour period, under the guise of Creative Scotland, but it was not implemented throughout the UK (Stevenson, 2014). The ‘clear national strategy for the whole cultural sector’ envisaged in the same document (Arts Council, n.d.) never quite saw the light of day; instead, change was more piecemeal.2
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

7. Heritage

Heritage is, by definition, a matter of looking backwards to history. With its incessant stress on modernisation, New Labour was widely perceived as favouring the contemporary at the expense of the historical. In this context, it is no surprise that the party was frequently accused of neglecting or showing hostility towards heritage (Aslet, 2008; Christiansen, 2007; Hewison, 2014; Hunt, 2007). This chapter considers New Labour’s record in this area and argues that the picture is rather more complex than such accusations and perceptions suggest.
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett

8. How Did New Labour Do on Arts and Culture? And What Happened Next?

In this final chapter, we consider New Labour’s record on arts and culture in the round. As part of that consideration, we discuss the relationships of New Labour cultural policies to their distinctive efforts to remould (some would say, abandon) social democratic politics for the twenty-first century. It is important for us to reiterate here that our purpose in assessing New Labour’s record on arts and culture derives only partly from the intrinsic interest of what this remarkable, intriguing and deeply flawed political project achieved. Our more general goal is to contribute to thinking about how citizens and governments might pursue social justice in the realm of cultural policy, and thereby maximise individual and collective human flourishing (see Hesmondhalgh, 2013b).
David Hesmondhalgh, Kate Oakley, David Lee, Melissa Nisbett


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