The silence of Dame Liz

The silence of Dame Liz


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2010

Forty-eight hours before the nation’s death by 1,000 cuts, members of Arts Council England had not yet been told the depth of pain and penetration. Apparently, the strategy was to go last to the Treasury in the hope of getting off lightly. By this time tomorrow, we shall know the results.

The puzzling bit is what the ACE has been doing during these past four months of preparation for major surgery. Performers and leaders of every art form have raised their voices in warning at the economic, political and social consequences of draining the arts of vital needs. Yet the ACE, which exists to speak for the arts, has been either pusillanimous or silent.

Its chief executive, lifetime civil servant Alan Davie, put up a stuttering showning before parliamentary committees, but then advocacy was never his strength. The real question is where was Liz Forgan, the diehard Labourite appointed as chairman under the last government and still clinging to her seat. Not a public peep has been heard from Dame Liz.

The word from within the Arts Council is that she is keen to keep her job. So is Davie. Have they stayed shtum to save their organisation at the expense of yours?