Art in the UK: Values and the Legitimacy of Support

Subject: Art
Pages: 11
Words: 5286
Reading time:
16 min
Study level: PhD

Art is one fascinating genre of study in human history. Thus, many theories have sprung to attest its meaning in the society. Barasch, in his hedonistic theory, designates that the importance of art involves satisfactions of human senses, which, the media, of beauty expressions give – the delight in sound, color and poignant portion of shape and form. This assumption is important in industrial arts, where aesthetics mainly seem to be the only deluxe charm ensuing upon success; but also in sculpture and painting when embraced in their fancy potential as “things of aesthetics”. Hedonistic theory asserts that the sumptuous media of different categories of art incline in the bearing of desire; and that no person who lacks feeling for virtuously sumptuous influence can accomplish the richness of artistic understanding. Another theory which demonstrates the intrinsic value of art is the moralistic theory.

Art is the idea depicting goodness, and thus, it has the advantage through manifestation it allows a person to meet enriching sensations or to visualize moral objects. For example, the Sistine Madonna”, can be, better being illuminated as identical with notable inclination towards religious feelings, which can be, constructed in the mind of a person. The intrinsic importance of art over life is hypothetical to entail of authority to elicited mind better and more stimulating substances than what life can provide; and to free, control the meditation of them. Perhaps, when the beauty of good is liberalized so as to encompass innocent happiness, religious and ethical values among other forms of beauty, art can add moral or practical value. The purpose of art is to generate truth. As asserted by Bakhish et al, ”beauty is truth and the truth is beauty”. The instant gratification, which a person, feels in beauty, is similar to immediate delight in the apprehension of truth. Truth in this case refers to the various shapes the art is coined with. Many representatives of art-paintings, novel, drama, and sculptures among other forms of art are praised for their truth. A person stresses truth of shape or color in a painting, form in sculpture, social interaction or symbol in a narrative or play.

This paper explains the role of public support for art in the UK and points out social values associated with art. The paper also describes how legitimacy in supporting art and explores the economic and intrinsic aspect of Art in the UK. Finally, the paper analyses recent UK art policies that have been instituted in supporting art activities in the country.

Public Support for the Arts and the Social Values

Since historical times, art has been always formed part human history. This has been the trend through middle age to present times. Art activities have not coiled around the art, but has extensively pointed towards demonstration of; piety, religion and advocating propaganda to serve the interests of the ruling elites in the society. Besides, during the medieval times, the status of artists was equated to craftsmen, this was the fashion until the renaissance period when the “real artists” began to have an impact in the society. Thus, in the eighteenth century, the concept of art began to have a meaning in the society. Prior to the renaissance, art was being viewed as a feature typically associated with techniques and skills. Consequently, by incorporating the expression of intrinsic art, artist’s distinctive talent and capacity has attracted attention in the society prompting support from art lovers across the society strata. Intrinsic nature as an aspect of art has made it possible for patrons to value artists’ abilities and gain strength in their activities. The term ‘patron’ has been used widely in various disciplines, but in artistic setting it suggests ‘a person who supports’. It is a term borrowed from Latin word, ‘father’. On the other hand, Oxford English Dictionary defines patron as ‘ an individual or organization that supports and protects various organizations and activities both materially and intellectually. In present-day understanding of the term, the term “patron” elicits more aspects of supporting arts. These include; private individuals, organisations or enterprise, and the country. During the Renaissance period, artists with similar skills worked together to achieve a goal bestowed on them by their supporters. This trend has been replicated by present-day artists. However, in the twentieth century, the style has slightly shifted with the sharp increase in the number of artists and their creative abilities. Thus, individual support for arts has been limited. However, governments have seen the value and benefits accruing from art; thus, to enhance its flow, more support and help has been granted to preserve its continuity. This is evident during after WWII where various positive values and social implications of arts started to be reinterpreted. For instance, in most European countries, the governments of these countries recognized the necessity of state intervention in arts. This included state-level of public support. There was also drawing agreement to encourage art.

Assessing the definitions of economic and social impact of art in virtual sphere is by no means an easy task. This is in the sense that, it encompasses assessment judgments in relation to the relative importance of art tasks and about what actually will be measured. Keynes affirms that, this challenge gives an opportunity for systems to devise strategies for benchmarking in terms of value, quality and meaning. He maintained to affirm that describing values is an essential aspect of generating realism; and in recognizing it, we make noticeable elements that we point out, but fail to recognize the invisible elements that are not mis-named.

From the artistic perspective, the accurate value of art can be found in the proper aesthetic value of it. However, in a broader meaning, social value in the cultural context is one of the significant values of arts. Humanities emphasize the universality, objectivity, and intangible assets of culture and a cultural object for aesthetic value. In the post-modern age, with the development of sociology and human rights, coupled with opposition to the traditional concept for art as a propaganda campaign, the importance of social value has set the center of artistic symmetry and regularity to the society. Consequently, the arts council in UK has been advocating for the association of children and young people. This has been viewed that when children and young people experience the high end quality products of arts, it helps them to form their own creative skills and cultural awareness. Besides, it encourages growth of talent in other fields of their lives. More precisely, the Arts council has partnered with arts organizations, schools and other skills partners to make art as the significant exposure of children and young people aspect of lives. Projects such as the Find Your Talent Pilot, a project in North Somerset, have been made available to children and young people. Moreover, the art council has formed strong and diversified sector skills and higher education to support accessibility to arts professionals, and appropriate strategies in training. Besides, arts council of UK has channeled more funding of organizations, educational institutions and companies in exchange of their knowledge. Other initiative to incorporate public involvement includes strengthening youth projects such as Youth Justice Board, the young people’s Arts Award and Artsmark, World Young People’s Arts Biennale

The Legitimacy of supporting Arts and Economic and Intrinsic Value of the Arts

The legitimacy of economic and social benefits of arts on individuals and society in the UK at large can be traced from the Community Arts Movement in 1960s. However, in the early 1980’s and onwards, art became a surging part of urban renaissance program in UK, as cities devised solutions to economic reform and the lessening of outdated manufacturing industries.

As earlier mentioned, the earning resulting from art is minimal thus, sustainability of the sector is challenging. The role played by individuals, organizations, and governments have, therefore come in handy in complementing its sustainability. Baumol and Bowel in their ‘Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma’ categorically asserted that fine arts and performing arts are labor-intensive although these areas do not necessary require much labor because of new technologies. Therefore, this means that income accrued from arts cannot sustain its activities. Baumol and Bowel studies based on a research found a coloration linking their determination to present adaptation of art economics. Baumol and Bowel interpreted chronic shortage sensation of performing arts by using the term, ‘Income Gap’; they diagnosed the overall administrative situation of performing arts in the 1960s as a ‘cost disease’. In other words, other fields can make cost-reducing effect by cutting labor forces and embracing machines. However, the challenge poised is that, reducing the numbers of players or actors in arts is directly related to the quality of the performance. Therefore, it is impossible to alter the balance gap, which is constantly occurring in this field. Nevertheless, since art has a reputation of a mixed good that contributes, not only to private interests but also to public interests, Baumol and Bowel argue that public support for art is recognized. Furthermore, they insist on the legitimacy of support by showing that art is related to honor, pride of a state and an element for the prosperity of the community. It should be maintained and developed for the future generations just like what education does.

Netzer supported Baumol and Bowel discussion of art as a mixed good by exemplifying ‘Positive Externality.’ In other words, like an opera, dance, performance. Netzer asserts that arts share musical forms that they are interdependent to each other. Therefore, miscellaneous things move or are have shared chances for enhancing mutual engagement. Thus, an individual of art that belongs to one of the art genre is likely to get some attention in another genre through other devices. However, even though his opinion is correct, we experience that external effect does hardly contribute to increasing art organizations or artists’ commercial interests. While applied arts such as; design and films of the culture industry, unlike fine arts can cause enormous profits by Window effect; fine arts require support at a national level. Unlike applied art, which is considered as an industry under the category of ‘cultural industry,’ It’s legitimacy of public support has been treated in a similar way as in other fields of industry. However, fine art can barely survive without support. In the U.K., emphasis has been centered on public support than private entities. The art depicted in this paper is fine arts except applied art which can commercially survive.

As briefly examined in the previous part, art in the U.K. has a tradition which had depended on market economy rather than popular support. The terms, ‘night watcher country’ and ‘invisible hand’ represent these ‘Laissez-Faire’ and ‘arm’s length principle’ traditions. However, after WWII, the government slowly started to intervene in arts. At the beginning, its main activity was control over arts, but after the establishment of The Arts Council in 1946 support became one of the main activities. In the 1980s, under the Conservative regime, the Prime Minister Thatcher spread tight-money policy in the government financial expenses. She stressed on diversification of support for arts rather than depending on a single public support: the government. Especially, she emphasized supporting arts as a combination of public and private supports with the most powerful private support, enterprise. For this, the government established and executed a network of Business Sponsorship Incentive Scheme (BSIS) through Arts and Business (A & B), which links sponsorship to art organisations to greatly increase the enterprise’ support for art in hardship. According to Business Sponsorship Incentive Scheme, when a new private supports 1 pound (at least 1,000 pound of support), the government supports 1 pound consistency automatically, and for the later support for the same institution, the government shall maintain 1 pound for each 3 pounds (at least 3,000 pounds this time). And for the aids, the government supports up to 25,000 pounds. This system began in 1984, and in 1995, it has been operated changing name to ‘The Paring Scheme.’ Through this system, art came to gain additional support which never have existed before in a hard time, and the money supported in this way contributed the revitalization of arts. However, art industry received financial aid through this system while governmental aid would be reduced as much as the amount of it received from the enterprise. This scheme made a concern that that variable support is easily changeable by economic instability and conditions of enterprise would not replace the stable governmental support. However, the government tried to quiet this by emphasizing private support, not as a replacement but as a supplement for public support. Also, as regardless of the quality of art, support for art that fits the enterprises increased, this system led to the raising questions of balanced development of the entire field of art by giving option in art support to enterprises rather than state having that In fact, during mid-1970s the U.K political, economic instability increased. The government’s intervention of Arts Council became noticeable. In 1974, the UK government of the time led by the Prime Minister Callaghan requested for a loan from the IMF. The loan was meant to support the government activities which included among others the art industry IMF. The 1977 Arts Council annual report titled ‘The Arts in Hard Time’ suggested the existing economic differences faced by the art Council in mid-1970s. The financial pressure existing was as a result of difficulty in the welfare state, changes for the promotion of economic efficiency in all parts of the British society. These changes brought about fundamental alteration of government funding for arts and culture, hence privatization of government-run organizations. Consequently, the Thatcher government in the early 1980s reduced millions of pounds from art supported funds initially while stressing on economic efficiency and maintaining tight-money financing. The government began to put pressure on art organizations to diversify their funding rather than depending on the government as their only source of support. Thus, ‘Value for Money’ was the strength that became a practice in Thatcher’s government to promote the value of money spent by the central government and other public institutions in the context of economy, efficiency, effectiveness; the core principles of liberalist market economy.

Consequently, during this period, a book focusing primarily on the economic importance of art was published hence attracting attention of the society. As the government cut funding for art as a result of severe economic situation and citing the reasons of ‘no economic value’, the book titled ‘The Economic Importance of the Arts in Britain’ written by John Myerscough, a proponent of art, argued that “the governmental support for art should continue since it has economic value refuting claims based on the economic efficiency”. John Myerscough works were majorly sponsored by Gulbenkian Foundation. Arts Council with other scholars in this field.
the book analyzed movement of mainstream art and support it receives in other western countries. He highlighted that Culture and art organizations would gradually depend more upon individual supports whereas the issue of public funds would vary from the central government to local councils. In this sense, the ideas of Myerscough took a position that the arts will be evaluated as value for money, as the monetary model and its importance. He also asserted that the evaluation about the economical property of arts funding is needed for some classified reasons. One of the reasons cited was that arts promote employment action. According to his book, statistically, the arts have a capacity of creating 2.1% of employment in the country. In addition, the arts promote the development of the region. This is in the sense that, as the arts organisations gained footage in the relevant area, in the country, the visual imagery of the areas affected is improved and this will create a better place for living. Consequently, the arts cause other effects such as tourism promotion. If the arts organisations are established, tourism related businesses such as; restaurants, shopping, transportation and accommodation are also developed. Thus, his assertions indicated that foreign exchange earnings from exports of arts in Britain are enormous as a result of art and affiliated businesses. Furthermore, the arts are closely linked to the development of different areas such as fashion, architecture, design and photography among other disciplines. This is in the opinion that, art creativity enhances their aesthetic appeal. These opinions are interwoven with the philosophy of ‘Value for money’ especially during the Thatcher era, but opponents of this idea assert that it ignores the intrinsic value of arts, whereas pursuing the economic aspects. Therefore, it establishes problems in regard to the arts as some a form of industry. In this case, Myerscough’s position is challenged with objections in two major aspects. The first being problems of statistical and numerical accuracy about economic contribution of arts and secondly, the situation that arts should be treated in terms of intrinsic, inherent value, not in monetary terms.

According to Pick, more than 60% of tourists would have visited Britain has a score of art activities. Only 7% of tourists seemed to cancel their travel plans citing the absent of creative activities. Additionally, he pointed out that the study on the artistic economy by Myerscough has been exaggerated by asserting that only 7% of foreign tourists have the most important objective of visiting Britain as arts.

Hansen also joined this argument and criticized some aspects in particular to research on public artistic, economic significance. Some of her critics feel that economic effects are too far exaggerated. She asserted that the people who insisted the artistic economy calculated the consumption of arts, employment effects and tax revenues. Besides, she also considered whether the utilization and practice of art is a different thing. Consequently, she asserted that the arts funding contributes to economic development, although a higher percentage of funding is accorded other disciplines; only art is accorded a little attention. Her claim asserts that spending huge funding on other disciplines is evident though traces of it remain scanty. Another claim cited by her is the improper analysis of art. In other words, the purpose of arts to cultural development is equated to creating jobs and economic development though this is not an accurate plan for its evaluation. However, she asserts that the most important attribute of evaluating arts is judging it in the perspective of reform and improvement quality in linking people’s life rather than in the perspective of revenue growth or creating employment. For these reasons, she insisted that the purpose of a new method to determine types of value in other distinct cultural areas, can be classified in four types i.e. ‘new artistic creation’, ‘tradition and creation of advanced civilization, ‘preservation and transfer of cultural heritage’ and ‘broad-based association for everybody and development’. She advocated that the principle of arts should be treated as connected to the values such as its intrinsic value, excellence, public education etc., rather than to determine its merit as commercial quantities.

Most governments have taken a major role since 1990s as a result of wanting to increase their funding of arts and its activities. However, this has resulted in more argument in terms of valuation and processes. Primarily, what is “counted” as a value? This questions allow us to think in terms of “instrumental versus intrinsic” Art is made up of its own advantages which supersedes any form of non-artistic side effects. According to Bakhshi et al he elaborates on this statement when he asserts thus, “the impact of an industry is assumed to play a vital role in regulation of supported cultural element in England, it is linked with the extension of the government influence over the segment, and the possibility to value values for its ‘influence’ rather than its intrinsic value linked to it”. On the other hand, he asserts that, “a growing urgency or feeling of apprehension pervades a cultural industry as it contemplates about moderating its depletions of public money”. Thus, these two assertions bring about two major benefits linked to Art and those associated with its effects. The issue of public choice i.e. the critics, the second aspect, is regarded as somewhat important too. However, these two critical advantages augment the economic value of art as an intrinsic element. Thus, it is a choice and predominantly expressed in terms of value. Intrinsic element is viewed as valuable as the instrumental benefits (5).

The governments have the responsibility of being part in art valuation. However, countries like the UK have no structured funding process because they do not have specialists’ economics in the area of culture. Most UK universities do not support teaching any of its undergraduates about culture. Besides, few universities have the resources only to maintain or promote cultural economic research. Besides, education, in the civil service, the cultural economics is low compared to other divisions of economy. For instance, when funding Art, decision makers employ methods suitable for production or ICT, thus; the benchmarks applied is contrary to the arts community.

Historians, anthropologists, and archeologists learn about different cultures through the artifacts they find, and through the art, these cultures created – the stories, myths, dances, theatre pieces, paintings and sculpture, to name a few examples. We can also learn how these examples are infused in daily life – in fact they represent aspects of everyday life, and this is how we learn about the past now. Therefore, we can feasibly conclude that what we refer to today as ‘the arts’ formed an intrinsic part of the lives of past societies, and by extension, our society today. In my view, we can then refer to art as a ‘public good’, or something vital to our society that everyone needs, and that is therefore, more than worthy of public support through government funding.

Therefore, although art does not create economic benefits, cultural system should not be limited by the index of economy. As stated above, the intrinsic value and the possibility of cultural development are the reasons for explanation of state-led support for arts. Nonetheless, the government and Arts Council make and implement the cultural strategy for supporting arts could be easily shifted depending on certain political and economic situations.

Recent British Art Policies and Supporting Excellence in the Arts

After the starting, of New Labor’s Party led by Tony Blair in 1997, restructuring the UK sectors were anchored on youthfulness. This was to establish a new image and raise a stronger society. This is attributed to Prime Minister’s Slogan which read “Creative Britain”, Cool Britain”. Hence, the slogans aimed at encouraging and inspiring creative industries and education across UK. Under these circumstances, the significance of culture was highlighted in everywhere of British policy. The governmental department included name ‘culture’ for the first time in the British cultural leadership history. As the Department for of Culture, Media and Sports were established, the budget for the British culture increased almost to double. The increased government funding for culture and art, supporting programs in cultural fields was one of the highest in UK history, it superseded the previous year. Hence, Tony Blair celebrated the achievement of British cultural identities during a speech at Tate Modern Museum that the Golden age of British culture has come in 2007 after a verdict for 10 years. In one word of New Labor’s arts policy, it can be described as a policy based on social and economic effects. It was typical having the same style of ‘Policy for the majority’ as their party slogan, and it reflected difficulties of judgment on aesthetic values in the cultural diversity. The new government insisted that the art supported by public funding can be justified as a majority of people could enjoy and participate in it. Thus, the accessibility of arts became important basis of art support and arts and culture were used for the main instrument of social integration.

Since the ruling by New Labor Party, the cultural accessibility expanded remarkably by various institutional support, increased cultural budget, and social integration policies. Moreover, by the development of cultural infrastructure and increasing numbers of applying lottery fund for arts, British cultural environment has changed and improved. However, on the other hand, there was a criticism that the principle of art support preceded the artistic excellence and it harms the scope of arts. Besides, there was a rising concern that these schemes could overlook the value of arts due to its too much boost approaches. In particular, the artists should spend a long time for writing application report for showing their works’ contribution to the society or economy. Consequently, there were complaints that the substantial expansion of funding for arts is almost same as non-existence, due to the spending too much money on education and participation rather than the creation of excellence. Compared with the times with the Conservative government, when the support for art was shrunk by the emphasizing the efficiency and economics, last 10 years of Labor party’s contribution to arts became abundant in large quantities. Nevertheless, a lot of artists and people in art organisations asserted that the culture policy of Tony Blair is not different from Margaret Thatcher’s strategy because of aiming on the economic profits and social roles of arts rather than focusing on the artistic excellence. In other words, there was uncertainty about the British cultural policy which was beneficial for developing the intrinsic value of art.

In this process, ‘Supporting Excellence in the Arts: From the Measurement to Judgment’, was published with the contention that the basis of art support should focus on the artistic excellence. In 2007, James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports asked Sir Brian McMaster to review a report on: How the system in the public sector support to encourage art excellence, and how artistic skill can embrace extended, passion association with the arts audiences, and how to fix a non-bureaucratic method to evaluate the quality of the arts in the future.

Moreover, the art council has established and diversified its methods of making arts easily accessible to the society. By the support of the government, the plan created has culminated to enhancement of art through digital revolution. Digital media have affected every facets of the society i.e. the culture, economy, working patterns, intellectual or copyrights and business models. The Arts council viewed that, digital technology we link audiences in different advanced ways, thus influencing closeness with arts and establishing new strategies to be part of it. Thus, the art council through the support of the government has supported the digital strategy by regularly supporting various organizations throughout the country by financing, building digital capabilities programmes through digital research, social networking and innovations.

Moreover, the Art council launched a Turning Point, ten- year strategy in 2006. This was aimed at strengthening contemporary visual arts to realize increased activities, and strengthen a national chain of venues and extension agencies granting quality visual art programmers.


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