I have heard two similar stories in the last week that have made me re-assess just what a massive cultural shift we are perhaps entering now.
The first was told to me by a council official in northern England - about how a local councillor had turned down the offer of a (fully funded from grants) arts project for the village he represented on the grounds that he did not want to deal with potential criticism locally of money being 'wasted on art' when key services were being cut back.
The second was closer to home - a local council making a decision not to have any kind of public launch for an art project they had commissioned and completed....again because they feared a backlash in the press against their enlightened act of investing in culture.
(Perhaps the folk involved in the local story should take an example of the rewards gained by the bravery of Stranraer in this respect - they seem to gave got the town behind investing in quality and culture...even now - see recent press coverage here)
It looks like we ALL have a job to do here as advocates for the arts - we are obviously not living in a cultural climate that affords us the luxury of criticising the merits of this or that project, gig, poem etc.......there is an urgent job to do of supporting the principle of creativity and cultural production in ALL its forms.
When talking to anyone on the bus, in a shop, on the street, I believe that we all need to stand against this new-phillistinism that threatens our culture with the weapon of fear, and never be guilty of lazily going with the flow on this.