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» » Cuts in art funding leave culture in the hands of the rich


Culture minister Maria Miller, who pointed out the financial benefits of the creative sector. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Catherine Bennett touches a nerve ("The arts are more than just a way to make money, Maria", Comment). Outside the narrow, self-important world of wealthy art market dealers, most people look to artworks for non-material enhancement of their lives – for a different and precious experience from their everyday financial constraints and strivings. The cultural and creative sector is indeed a vital component of the UK economy, but it can also contribute much more to raising our quality of life in a society burdened by long-term austerity.

Westminster coalition ministers, however, have cut arts funding, largely ignored its wider potential beyond London and increased its reliance on rich collectors and benefactors. In consequence, while we see innovations in form, the actual content of too much contemporary art is unexcitingly "safe" or subjective to the point where no basic ring of truth is registered. Cities of Culture are helpful, but no substitute for a forward-looking government policy on the arts and creativity.

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