The UK government recently announced plans to offer children five hours of access to arts and high culture per week. The debate focused on what impact will it have on the kids, on the education system and the subsided arts/culture sector. The debate featured Jeremy Hunt who is shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport and Margaret Hodge, the current government minister for culture, creative industries and tourism.
I had been a bit wary of the role of government and culture since the ‘repetitive beats’ controversy of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, but thought that it would be interesting to hear what the political panelists would have to say.
Peter Jenkinson, a self-described culture broker who I had previously met through his involvement in Channel 4’s Big Art project chaired the meeting. The clincher for me was when Peter asked Margaret Hodge what role broadcasters would have to play, how could television and online be used to bring culture to young people?
Margaret was smart enough to play the jargon name dropping ‘media convergence’, but her reaching for an answer showed that the government minister did not get online, she could not grasp its power or the way that it could be channeled.
Whilst Margaret is obviously a very bright and articulate woman, I did not feel confident that she would be able to chart a course for creative Britain in an age of web 2.0 technologies and user-generated content. And that’s a very scary feeling, particularly when the creative economy is becoming of increasing importance to the UK.
We are faced with all kinds of challenges from harnessing and encouraging the creative sector to the changing nature of intellectual property and the role of consumers as producers in an online world.