By popular demand – which is to say, her own insistence – the chair of Arts Council England will appear tomorrow before the House of Commons Culture Committee to rebut testimony by previous witnesses (myself among them) whom she regards as hostile.
The committee, in due fairness, has agreed to give her organisation a second hearing and Liz Forgan, if I know her, will appear formidably well prepared.
In equal fairness, let me offer the committee four good questions to set her off:
1 Why has the ACE, after being criticised by the Government for excessive bureaucracy, launched the biggest and least necessary bureaucratic exercise in its history, requiring every arts organisation in the country to reapply for its subsidy?
2 By what authority did the ACE unilaterally decide that arts merit should not be the chief criterion for granting public support? Other fulfiments required by the ACE include diversity, education, integration and equality. When and by which act of Parliament was the ACE authorised to act as an instrument of social engineering rather than a promoter of arts excellence?
3 Why was the ACE chief executive Alan Davey – a man who could barely remember his own name when asked by committee – awarded a 16 percent pay rise?
4 Who would Dame Liz like to nominate as successors to herself and Mr Davey?