The next Arts Council chair will be…

White. Male. Tory.

Today should have been the deadline for applications, but the DCMS awoke to realise that there are only two halfway credible candidates and both are drawn from the same narrow genetic spectrum. And both vote to the right.

The deadline (we hear) has been hastily extended to next week and phones are being frantically hit to find a presentable woman candidate of possible non-British ancestry who might make the shortlist look even remotely unrigged.

The outgoing chairman, Peter Bazalgette, was shoehorned into the job by his hunt crony, Heremy Junta.

The selection panel this time round is chaired by Sandy Nairne, retired director of the National Portrait Gallery.

Trouble is, no-one wants the job. The pay is 40k and the strings are pulled by Whitehall. The organisation is flabby, incapable of booking a chorus at the Coliseum (see protesters, below).

Sensible women just laugh when they are asked to apply for the chairmanship.

eno arts council picket


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  • 40K sounds a reasonable sort of salary to me, given that this blog spends a good deal of time — quite rightly in my view — whingeing about the inflated amounts paid to fat cat administrators of various arts organisations. Granted, it will not draw a captain of industry. But how much do you think they should get?

    More disturbing is the notion that the job is in Whitehall’s pocket. In Canada, I see the various arts councils — the Canada Council, provincial ones, others — that operate as Crown corporations or similarly structured bodies. I doubt anyone running those is getting rich off them, either, but many came from the arts themselves so are not used to inflated salaries. However, I do believe, whatever criticism they may rate (including lately, in the discussion of the Canadian budget) regarding cronyism, that they are legitimately at arms-length from government. It’s a pity Whitehall could not learn from its former colonies and dominions.

    However it makes the future of the Arts Council a dispiriting prospect, when only those who can afford the job and who are comfortable bureaucrats who take their directives from Sir Humphrey are likely to contend for the position.

  • So, if I’ve understood correctly, the only two credible candidates are being overlooked for now because they aren’t left-wing women from minority backgrounds.

    Was Dr. Spooner responsible for Jeremy Hunter?

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