Maria Miller resigns: What would the arts world like to see from new Culture Secretary Sajid Javid?

He needs to have that passion, to show will be an advocate for the arts

Share

People forget now that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was created by one man for one man. John Major as prime minister created it for David Mellor, because Mellor was passionate about culture, media and sport. And for all his other foibles, that passion made Mellor the best culture secretary yet.

And that’s why I don’t go along with those in the arts world who believe that appointing a banker to be in charge of the arts is wrong per se. What counts is not the former occupation. The Culture Secretary doesn’t have to be a former artist any more than the Environment Secretary must be an ex-farmer or the Defence Secretary a retired soldier.

But he does need to have that passion, to show he cares about the arts and will be an advocate for the arts. That enthusiasm and empathy was lacking in Maria Miller, whose one significant speech on the subject urged the arts world to demonstrate their economic worth.

So what I would like to see Sajid Javid do is to be seen at arts events (and persuade his Cabinet colleagues to be seen at arts events) to champion the arts and Britain’s current international supremacy publicly, and to address the needs of audiences as well as artists.

Read more:
What happened to Cameron’s pledge to increase the number of women in Cabinet?
By behaving gracelessly Miller has paid a much heavier price

He must be bold enough to investigate the insidious and iniquitous booking fees, bold enough to acknowledge that price puts off young people from so many art forms, bold enough to introduce ‘ pay what you can’ evenings or other forms of cheap tickets for young and new audiences.

He need not act on every complaint of cuts (some are simply not valid) but he must urgently look at redistributing some of the arts finance from London to the regions, and insist that all the London-based national companies tour to the taxpayers who fund them.

Lastly, I go back to David Mellor. I spoke to him on his first day in the new DCMS. He said he would be damned if he was going to spend three months of the year negotiating on behalf of the arts with the Treasury, and the other nine months having no say in how the money was spent. Yet that is still largely the case with an unelected quango, the Arts Council, deciding who gets the cash.

The challenge for Mr Javid is to actually be the minister. Make the decisions and be accountable, don’t leave them to a quango. And show passion for your portfolio. The arts world loves to be loved.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko prior to the start of the European Council Summit in Brussels last month  

David Cameron talks big but is waving a small stick at the Russian bear

Kim Sengupta
 

Isis in Iraq: Even if Iraqi troops take back Saddam’s city of Tikrit they will face bombs and booby traps

Patrick Cockburn
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003