Thursday, 16 June 2011

Leeds Salon on Valuing the Arts

Forthcoming Leeds Salon debate, now part of the Emerge Leeds Festival 2011:

Valuing the Arts in an Age of Austerity

Wednesday 22 June 2011
The Millennium Room, The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds,
5:45pm (for a 6pm start) to 7:45pm.
£5 waged/£3 unwaged on the door.

With the current economic crisis and widespread cuts in public spending budgets, things are even more financially precarious for the arts than usual; and many in the arts have been forced to reappraise how they argue the case for funding.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating techniques to assess the economic value of the arts, what it terms non-market goods, in terms of what people feel they would be willing to pay for things if they were not free.

And the February 2011 Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) pamphlet entitled Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society: Remaking the case for the arts states: "The Commission on 2020 Public Services at the RSA has called for more public investment to be evaluated in terms of a ‘social productivity test’: whether it builds individual and community engagement, resilience and reciprocity."

The pamphlet sets out to define a bold response to the challenge presented by the cuts in funding, but is there something wanting in the solutions offered?

This discussion aims to challenge the participation approach of chasing audiences, in favour of more compelling reasons why the arts should receive public funding, and ask some difficult questions such as: just how should we value the arts? Are the arts a luxury or a necessity? Do they have intrinsic value or are they best assessed in terms of outcome and impact? Does what the public think they want or like matter or should we fund the arts regardless? Do the arts even need or deserve public funding at all?


Angus Kennedy is head of external relations for the Institute of Ideas, working principally to programme the annual Battle of Ideas festival in London and its international satellite events. He chairs the Institute’s Economy Forum and helps organise its discussions. He writes for spiked and Culture Wars, among other publications, with particular interests in the Holocaust, classics, culture and the arts, economics and moral philosophy.

Moira Innes, Director Leeds Met Gallery & Studio Theatre. Moira has a post-graduate qualification in sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art and has since worked continually in the art sector. As a founding Director for Situation Leeds, she co-organised festivals of art in public realm in 2005 & 2007 and is currently developing a series of interventions that utilise the fabric of the city. She is currently Chair of Leeds Visual Art Forum and works strategically to the profile of the visual arts across Leeds.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie represents Beeston and Holbeck ward in south Leeds where he also lives. Since May 2010, he has been the Executive Board Member for Leisure on Leeds City Council; a portfolio which includes arts, culture and creative industries, museums and galleries, events, parks and countryside, sport and recreation, libraries and cemeteries and crematoria. He is also on the Board of South Leeds Community Radio, Beeston Festival and Holbeck Gala Committees and Chair of Leeds Grand Theatre.

Andy Abbott is an artist, writer, musician and educator. He graduated from the LCAD Foundation course in 2001 and has worked and studied in Leeds since. Currently he is undertaking practice-led research for a PhD in Fine Art at University of Leeds. From 2003 Andy has worked as part of the artist collective Black Dogs and has exhibited nationally and internationally from self-organised public interventions in Leeds, to events at Tate Modern and presentations in Italy and Greece. He also teaches part-time in the Fine Art area of Foundation at LCA.

Background Discussion
Can the arts save the economy? , listen again to this Battle of Ideas 2009 session
Just what are the arts good for? , watch and listen again to this Battle of Ideas 2010 satellite
Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society: Remaking the case for the arts, RSA pamphlet,
February 2011
Using art to nudge the public, by Jan Bowman, Culture Wars, 20 May 2011
Melvin Bragg: why the arts have replaced heavy industry, The Telegraph, 12 May 2011
Crisis? The arts have rarely been in better health, Simon Jenkins, London Evening Standard, 23 February 2010
Culture Linked to Improved Health, BBC New, 24 May 2011

To let us know you’re coming please reply to this e-mail. If you’re not on it already, join our mailing list at:, and join our group on Facebook.

This debate is part of the Emerge Leeds Festival 2011 being held at the Carriageworks Theatre from the 19th to 26th June.

This is also a back-to-back event with Manchester Salon. So if you can’t make 22 June join the discussion in Manchester on Tuesday 21 June.

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