That really checks all the boxes, doesn't it? 15 months of research. A timely and distinctive vision. Cultural opportunity for everyone. Broader range of freedoms. Everyday creativity. Substantive freedom to co-create. And so on. Lot of repetition here. But it's all positive! Wonderfully positive. And deeply interconnected. Any time you read something this positive, swimming in lovely abstractions, you are reading something whose nature is fundamentally political. Everyone's life will be better and there is no price to be paid. More and better freedoms! Cultural capability!Towards cultural democracy: promoting cultural capabilities for everyone is the final report of King’s fourth Cultural Enquiry. On the basis of a 15-month research project, it presents a timely and distinctive vision of how to build a cultural life for the UK that is valuable for everyone, and made by all.At the heart of the report is a call for a radical but pragmatic new approach to understanding and enabling cultural opportunity. It is argued that cultural opportunities are comprised of a far broader range of freedoms than access to already existing publicly funded arts – the primary focus of current cultural policy.Whilst acknowledging the vital importance of the publicly funded arts and the profit-making creative industries, the report casts a spotlight on their relationships with everyday creativity – a plethora of cultural activity that is happening around the UK but which is often overlooked. It demonstrates how the arts, creative industries and everyday creativity are not separate but deeply interconnected, enabling each other to flourish. It then makes the crucial connection between these activities and the range of socially-embedded freedoms they require in order to be possible.In doing so, Towards cultural democracy sheds light on the explosion of cultural creativity that could be happening if the arts, creative industries and everyday creativity were better connected. This would radically increase everyone’s substantive freedom to co-create versions of culture: what the report refers to as cultural capability. This is the report’s proposal for a new way to understand what cultural opportunity consists of, moving well beyond access to currently existing publicly funded arts.Cultural capability – the combined freedom to speak, to express, to be heard, to experience, to make, to build, to contest, to create – is the key idea at the heart of this report. Documenting and analysing conditions in which people lead empowered cultural lives, the report identifies key ways in which future policy and practice have the potential to more fully realise cultural capability for everyone. It is on this basis that the report offers its distinctive vision of cultural democracy: an achievable future in which the substantive freedom to co-create versions of culture is enjoyed by all.
What utter nonsense.
Cultural capability, I am sorry to say, is not something that can be ferreted out by 15 months of research and guaranteed by new and improved government programs even if they are both radical and pragmatic. The only thing that can improve your or my or anyone's "cultural capability" (which is a really smelly little concept in the first place) is work. Your or my work. Individual work. The siren call of the state is the siren call of the collective. Together we can do anything. Except the abstract collective never does anything because it is a mere abstraction.
The blurb advertising the report is indicative:
Everyday creativity (i.e., the enormously diverse range of cultural and creative practices that take place outside of the publicly funded arts and the profit-making creative industries) is a hugely important part of the UK’s cultural ecology and needs to be taken seriously.Do you see what is really going on here? The state is essentially taking charge of the cultural practices of every citizen. The first stage was stepping in and subsidizing all those traditional arts institutions so that they became dependent on the state. The next stage is stepping in and subsidizing local and amateur cultural activities so THEY too become dependent on the state. Why do I infer this? It is obvious really. The only reason to spend 15 months researching "everyday creativity" and setting as your goal promoting cultural capabilities for EVERYONE is to launch new government programs staffed by hosts of new bureaucrats. See, that's the part that is left out. This is a hostile takeover, by the state, of every single thing every citizen might do that could be loosely construed as "cultural."
This idea was expressed very succinctly by the historical forebear of government actions like this:
All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.--Benito Mussolini, Speech to Chamber of Deputies (9 December 1928), quoted in Propaganda and Dictatorship (2007) by Marx Fritz Morstein, p. 48.
A pull quote from the report lets the cat out of the bag:
In the context of the deep and widespread political division expressed through the 2016 EU referendum campaign and vote, it is increasingly clear that new approaches to many of the UK’s political processes require urgent and radical attention. This includes how cultural policy operates – and who and what cultural policy is for. Questions about how culture is made and by who, and which creative activity gets recognised and supported, are matters in which we all have a profound and ever more urgent interest.The Brexit vote was a horrifying moment for the intelligentsia in the UK: good grief, there is this whole large sector of society that we were largely unaware of that hold opinions that we have not approved! We must extend our opinion-shaping capabilities to include these people!
Let's recall another quote from a well-known politician:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'--Ronald Reagan.