England has got it going on these days, at least in terms of national dialogue about art.
Here in America it’s been 18 months’ worth of presidential elections, punctuated by the occasional reference to whatever Britney, Paris, Lindsay or the latest (sh)it girls are doing out on the free range. Of art and other cultural subjects, these days we hear f*ck-all (so to speak).
But an alert FoF (Friend of Failure), Rich Barlow, who’s just back from a long holiday on the Isle of Crumpet, notes that there’s a major national discussion going on currently in England regarding how to foster and support “excellence” in that country’s art (as opposed to merely subsidizing art target levels).
A report called “Supporting Excellence in the Arts,” that was written by Sir Brian McMaster, a former director of the Edinburgh International Festival, and commissioned by the culture secretary, James Purnell, asserts that the arts “have never been so needed to understand the deep complexities of Britain today.” McMaster argues for a new “appreciation of the profound value of the arts and culture,” and a “reclamation of excellence from its historic elitist undertones.”
I can’t even imagine such a debate happening in America, where one of the most burning questions in recent years is whether or not the average Joe Schmoe is as smart as the average ten-year-old. No, here, in our great Democratic nation, all you have to do is suggest that maybe—just maybe—we could be doing a little bit more to foster our smarts and raise our cultural discourse and you suddenly have every Tom, Dick, and Harry Arse who knows how to write his own name screaming “elitism” and “pomposity” at the top of his lungs.
One good reason no one will probably ever write a song called “English Idiot.”
Somebody get me a Snakebite & Black, stat.