New Culture Secretary with Olympian aims

New Culture Secretary with Olympian aims


norman lebrecht

May 12, 2010

Jeremy Hunt has been announced as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport in the new Con-Lib British government. He will also inherit the separate and unnecessary job of minister for the Olympics, a seat created by Gordon Brown to keep Tessa Jowell off the dole.

Merging the roles makes sense. It may also create savings in two obese organisations.

Hunt is culturally literate and fiscally severe. He has told heads of arts organisations that there will be no exemptions from the imminent cuts. The successful will be treated as harshly as the failures, at least in the first sweep. He may need to revise that line.

In the election run-up, Hunt promised not to abolish the Arts Council, a bureaucracy that lost all independence under Labour and became an arm of government. That pledge, too, might be ripe for reconsideration. In the first instance, he will need to depose the Arts Council chair, Liz Forgan, a card-carrying Labour loyalist.

The arts element of the 2012 Olympics will also be high on the agenda. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has his antennae out for political capital.

Watch this space for more.