Art, its publics and an agenda of impact: the UK case

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This text considers UK ‘third way’ cultural policy and its agenda of impact that seeks to directly connect with processes of social and economic change via the commissioning of art and culture. I claim that publicly funded art commissioned as part of ‘impact policy’ is increasingly instrumentalized and this process has become complicit with and functional for an agenda of privatization and marketization. Here I use theories of the public sphere as a critical framework with which to interrogate this agenda for art in third way cultural policy. I propose that third way cultural policy produces debased public spheres. In order to understand how this occurs and in what ways the state utilizes art practice I present three forms of rhetoric common to third way cultural policy and public art commissioning. This articulation allows us to comprehend how cultural policy is a steering medium that promotes ideas of economics and ways of living that are increasingly informed by neoliberal values and that further undermine public interest, social justice, and democratic debate. Instead of a third way agenda for art we must consider the potential of the arts and their institutions as spaces where politics, difference, and futures can be expressed and debated.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2016


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