Something had to give for Culture Secretary Maria Miller. She’s not had an easy time since the Leveson report and the subsequent battle over state regulation of the press. Harangued by all and sundry, she’s looking to make friends. In a speech at the British Museum this morning, Miller took the novel step of talking to the luvvies of the arts world as if they were grown-ups living in the real world. Her subject was budget cuts:
‘For honesty’s sake we must be clear about the grounds on which this argument must be had and the points that will get traction, not in the press, but with my colleagues – and with the country at large.’
Translation: Please stop giving beastly quotes about me to those nasty papers. I’m trying to silence them in other ways, by the way.
‘It is with this at the fore of my mind that I come to you today and ask you to help me reframe the argument: to hammer home the value of culture to our economy.’
Translation: Help me, help you. All very Jerry Maguire.
‘I know this will not be to everyone’s taste – many in the arts simply want money and silence from Government – but in an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.’
Translation: You get two billion pounds a year. Seriously. That is a lot of teachers and nurses. You know, stuff taxpayers actually expect the state to provide.
‘To maintain the argument for continued public funding, we must make our case as a two way street. We must demonstrate the healthy dividends that our investment continues to pay. That’s the argument that I, as Culture Secretary, intend to make in my approach to this spending round – and I need all your help in that endeavour.’
Translation: Pipe down and stop being spoilt, though if you have any good ideas about saving money would you mind terribly if you let me know? But not via the papers please. We don’t like the papers.
I have rarely enjoyed performance art more.