Friday, December 21, 2012

Saving art for the nation

Well, this is a hoot. Bromley Council is claiming ownership of the Henry Moore sculpture that Tower Hamlets council wants to sell to off-set funding cuts. I was touched by our leader's new-found interest in and commitment to public art.

Stephen Carr said in a letter to Tower Hamlets "This sculpture must remain in public ownership which is line with the original principles of Henry Moore himself. The idea that selling this internationally recognised sculpture will somehow tackle the financial situation facing Tower Hamlets is flawed. Local authorities need to face financial reality and look at the longer-term challenges.The monies raised would not protect frontline services for very long and would stop future generations appreciating this national treasure."

I am heartened by Councillor Carr's new-found commitment to public ownership and I look forward to Bromley Council ring-fencing public assets - such as libraries - not to mention their support for an arts and cultural centre in the midst of the retail wasteland that is our town centre.

Sadly, I'm not sure the letter has anything to do with a love of art, public or otherwise. It's  rather a restatement of austerity thinking dressed up as concern for people's cultural lives. I wonder if Mr Carr will be adding his voice to those from the North East decrying the slashing of arts spending in that region or to those raising concerns that the lack of arts in the curriculum of Gove's English Baccalaureate will lead to an impoverishing of the nation's soul. I'm not hopeful.

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