UK Culture Secretary: I won’t let our world-leading arts position be destroyed

UK Culture Secretary: I won’t let our world-leading arts position be destroyed


norman lebrecht

June 08, 2020

Oliver Dowden has given his first newspaper interview. Declaring himself passionate about the arts he says: ‘I am not going to stand by and see our world-leading position in arts and culture destroyed.’

He’s in the middle of a battle with the Treasury — he calls it “intricate discussions” — to come up with a scheme to keep the arts sector from bankruptcy while Covid rules keep it closed. The deal is almost done. “Of course I want to get the money flowing,” he says. “I am not going to let anyone down.”

“I’ve always found the Chancellor and his team very engaged and understanding about the value of this sector,” he adds. Maybe. But even if an announcement comes soon there are going to be hard choices to make. “Not everyone is going to be happy with whatever comes up. I’m going to have to ask institutions to take difficult decisions”….

Read on here.



  • John Manger says:

    It will be interesting to see which of London’s self-governing orchestras come out of all this, and for those that do, with what strings are attached?!

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Given the source of the interview I am not surprised at the limit of the horizon it displays but…..

    “The arts, he says, are central to “the strength, resilience and reputation of London.” He adds: “We would be absolutely crazy to throw it away”.”

    So nowhere else contributes to the Artt? And as usual the rest of us will have to be content with the crumbs. At least we have had decades to get used to it.

    • Allen says:

      Read the article in full. It is the (London) Evening Standard, and his comment about London appears to be in response to a question about ENO and the ROH.

      • Cynical Bystander says:

        I did and referred to the source in my comment and it’s limited horizon. Dowden refers to the reputation of London which puts the rest of us not so fortunate to live there firmly in our place. He is supposed to be a Secretary of State and not as so many of his cabinet colleagues equally are, a minister for London and the S.E.

      • Maria says:

        London again. What about Opera North and the Halle?

  • Gustavo says:

    Too much nationalism and Darwinian game theory hidden between the lines.

  • RW2013 says:

    “world-leading position in arts and culture”
    Do ze Germans know about zis?

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      Oh really, do not keep up. You’ve not been listening or reading over the last few months. Britain, or at least its Government, is now “world-leading” in everything. Not least self delusion.

      • Allen says:

        “Britain, or at least its Government, is now “world-leading” in everything.”

        No, just the NHS apparently.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Theatrical Management Association proved years ago that theatre all over Britain – not just London – raised more in VAT than all football matches.

    • Allen says:

      That doesn’t surprise me.

      Many years ago, someone revealed that attendance at arts events (in the widest sense, presumably) exceeded attendance at football matches by a significant margin. I’ve tried several times to find a reference to this or something more recent without success.

      I find it extremely irritating that football seems entitled to coverage in TV news slots day in, day out, regardless of whether there is anything newsworthy. The arts? Just a bunch of luvvies.

  • buxtehude says:

    “UK Culture Secretary: I won’t let our world-leading arts position be destroyed”

    He and whose oil fields?

    One thing the UK shows no shortage of (so far) is bloviating Tories. What happens when you run out of Them?

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    This entire discussion, and these remarks, seem so quaint to someone in the United States. Years ago, I was in London on a day when there were massive demonstrations in front of the Houses of Parliament when the Government raised university tuitions from zero to a few thousand dollars a year. Even then I felt as though I had stepped into an alternate reality.

    • Wesley says:

      That’s the British under-30s for you; they’ve been conditioned to expect everything they want for free. And despite vast sums being spent (and expected to be spent) each year on the NHS and welfare, people still seem to think the government has money left over to support the arts…bless.

  • Mike says:



    Dowden is not UK Culture Secretary.
    Only of England.
    The role does not exist as culture is a devolved matter, each UK nation has its own. Just sayin….