Twitter captures the new Culture Secretary’s commitment to continuing public subsidy of the arts.
English PEN (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
England’s new Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale MP, has declared his support for arts subsidy in a Twitter exchange with playwright Simon Stephens. Whittingdale, who has only tweeted nine times, used the social media site to endorse the National Theatre production ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End. After attending last week, he tweeted that it was “thoroughly deserving of its awards”. Stephens responded: “In fact every element of my career and Marianne's [Elliott] career was dependent on that subsidy. Glad you enjoyed its fruits” – to which Whittingdale replied: “I did and I congratulate you. I have always supported public subsidy of the arts and will continue to do so.”
This is not the first time that Whittingdale has given an unprompted defence of arts subsidy. In 2013, at the first parliamentary debate on the arts for five years, he said: “As a free market believer I don’t normally believe in public subsidy, but I do for the arts.” His comments were made in the context of fears surrounding proposals to allow the arts sector to use Lottery funding to plug the public funding gap, and he said this was something that the Government might “look at for a limited period”. He has also spoken up for arts education at a parliamentary debate on the Government’s response to a Select Committee report on Supporting the Creative Economy, declaring that “…the success of our creative industries is an ample demonstration of why it is so much in our interests to make arts a core part of the curriculum”.
@StephensSimon I did and I congratulate you. I have always supported public subsidy of the arts and will continue to do so.
— John Whittingdale (@JWhittingdale) May 15, 2015