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  • Cultural Value and the Crisis of LegitimacyWhy culture needs a democratic mandate

    John Holden

    Cultural policy is aclosed conversationamong experts.What culture needsis a democraticmandate from thepublic . . .

  • About Demos

    Who we are

    Demos is the think tank for everyday democracy. We believe everyone

    should be able to make personal choices in their daily lives that contribute to

    the common good. Our aim is to put this democratic idea into practice by

    working with organisations in ways that make them more effective and

    legitimate.

    What we work on

    We focus on six areas: public services; science and technology; cities and

    public space; people and communities; arts and culture; and global security.

    Who we work with

    Our partners include policy-makers, companies, public service providers and

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    provides a global perspective and enables us to work across borders.

    How we work

    Demos knows the importance of learning from experience. We test and

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    What we offer

    We analyse social and political change, which we connect to innovation and

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  • First published in 2006

    Demos

    Some rights reserved see copyright licence for details

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  • Cultural Valueand the Crisis of LegitimacyWhy culture needs a democratic mandate

    John Holden

    Supported by

  • Open access. Some rights reserved.

    As the publisher of this work, Demos has an open access policy which enables anyone to access ourcontent electronically without charge.

    We want to encourage the circulation of our work as widely as possible without affecting the ownershipof the copyright, which remains with the copyright holder.

    Users are welcome to download, save, perform or distribute this work electronically or in any other format,including in foreign language translation, without written permission subject to the conditions set out inthe Demos open access licence which you can read at the back of this publication.

    Please read and consider the full licence.The following are some of the conditions imposed by the licence:

    Demos and the author(s) are credited

    The Demos website address (www.demos.co.uk) is published together with a copy of this policystatement in a prominent position

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    Copyright DepartmentDemosMagdalen House136 Tooley StreetLondonSE1 2TUUnited Kingdom

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    You are welcome to ask for permission to use this work for purposes other than those covered by theDemos open access licence.

    Demos gratefully acknowledges the work of Lawrence Lessig and Creative Commons which inspired ourapproach to copyright.The Demos circulation licence is adapted from the attribution/no derivatives/non-commercial version of the Creative Commons licence.

    To find out more about Creative Commons licences go to www.creativecommons.org

  • Contents

    Acknowledgements 7

    1. Summary 9

    2. Introduction 11

    3. Cultural value 14

    4. Cultural context 20

    5. The mismatch of value concerns 31

    6. The role of the media 42

    7. Research, evidence and advocacy 46

    8. Developing a new legitimacy 52

    9. Conclusion 56

    Notes 61

  • Acknowledgements

    Demos 7

    This publication would not have been possible without the support ofthe United Kingdom branch of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,and I am most grateful to everyone at the Gulbenkian for theirsupport.

    I am also greatly indebted to the many people, too numerous tomention individually, with whom I have discussed the ideascontained in this pamphlet.

    My colleagues at Demos have been a constant source of stimula-tion. Tom Bentley, Paul Skidmore, Charlie Tims and Shelagh Wrightdeserve special mention, but Sam Jones has been of immense help,both intellectually and in assisting with the production. Thanks forthe production and dissemination of this pamphlet to Eddie Gibb,Sam Hinton-Smith, Abi Hewitt, Julia Huber and the Demos interns.In addition I have received help and assistance from Justine Simons ofthe Mayors Office and Professor Sara Selwood of City University; butmy largest debt is owed to my frequent collaborator and friendRobert Hewison for his editing skills, insights and unfailingencouragement.

    John HoldenMarch 2006

  • 8 Demos

  • 1. Summary

    Demos 9

    The cultural system faces a crisis of legitimacy. At local governmentlevel culture is suffering extreme funding cuts,1 the recent ArtsCouncil England (ACE) Peer Review uncovers a rift between ACE andits Whitehall department,2 and individual organisations continue tostagger from one damning headline to the next.3 These are thecurrent symptoms of a deeper problem that has dogged culture forthe last 30 years.

    Politics has struggled to understand culture and failed to engagewith it effectively. Cultural professionals have focused on satisfyingthe policy demands of their funders in an attempt to gain the sameunquestioning support for culture that exists for health or education;but the truth is that politicians will never be able to give that supportuntil there exists a more broadly based and better articulateddemocratic consensus.

    The diagnosis is worrying, but the prognosis is optimistic.Cultural value has provided politicians with an understanding ofwhy culture is important, and is helping institutions to explainthemselves, and to talk to each other.

    The language and conceptual framework provided by culturalvalue tell us that publicly funded culture generates three types ofvalue: intrinsic value, instrumental value and institutional value. Itexplains that these values play out are created and consumed

  • within a triangular relationship between cultural professionals,politicians, policy-makers and the public.

    But the analysis illuminates a problem: politicians and policy-makers appear to care most about instrumental economic and socialoutcomes, but the public and most professionals have a completelydifferent set of concerns.

    As a result the relationships between the public, politicians andprofessionals have become dysfunctional. The cultural system hasbecome a closed and ill-tempered conversation between professionalsand politicians, while the news pages of the media play a destructiverole between politics and the public.

    The problems are clearly systemic but the solutions must start withcultural professionals. Their opportunity is that the value of cultureto the public is unlimited and infinitely expandable. The challenge,which is already being taken up in some places, is to create a differentalignment between culture, politics and the public. In practice thiswill require courage, confidence and radicalism on the part ofprofessionals in finding new ways to build greater legitimacy directlywith citizens. The evidence so far suggests that such an approachwould be successful and would serve the aims of all concerned politicians, the professionals themselves, and above all the public.

    Cultural Value and the Crisis of Legitimacy

    10 Demos

  • 2. Introduction

    Demos 11

    What is culture?No one would suggest that defining culture is easy. RaymondWilliams in Keywords says that culture is one of the two or three mostcomplicated words in the English Language,4 and governmentcertainly struggles. The Department for Culture, Media and Sports(DCMSs) website admits There is no official government definitionof culture.5 Efforts have begun at various levels from UNESCO, tothe European Union, to DCMS itself to tackle this issue of languageand definition, and progress is being made, but as the DCMSsEvidence Toolkit insists, when it comes to culture, There are no shareddefinitions, systems and methodologies.6 Yet in practice definitionsare used by policy-makers at national, regional and local levels. Thedefinitions flow from administrative convenience, and do not matchpeoples everyday understanding and experience of culture. Who onthe high street would think that sport or tourism came under theheading culture, or that antique dealing was a creative industry?This in itself illustrates the gap that exists between the public andpolitics when it comes to culture.

    In this paper I will use a narrow characterisation of culture tomean the arts, museums, libraries and heritage th

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