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Week 5: 8 October 2011

Sir John Tusa

British arts broadcaster and journalist

An arts policy for Nowhereisland

No child will be denied a full education in the arts at their widest.

Every child will be read to each night.

Every school will start its day by singing songs together.

Every child and young person will be able to learn a musical instrument to the stage where they can – if they wish – play in public or with others.

Every education establishment  will base its teaching on the knowledge and belief that the arts benefit learning of every kind.

No child or young person will be told that “the arts are not for you”. The arts belong to everyone.

Every child will have the opportunity to look, learn, listen and make.

Every pupil will learn about the traditions on which contemporary arts practice is based.

Every teacher will be qualified to communicate enthusiasm for and knowledge of more than one art form.

No school or educational establishment will divide its teaching into either the sciences or the humanities. There is only One Culture and each reinforces the other.

Every child will have time in its curriculum to do nothing and learn how to be bored.

All higher education and all arts venues will integrate their learning and performance activities.

All government policy will be based on the assumption that healthy and vibrant communities are centred around the arts.

All government policy will address education and the arts in the same department.

No government will regard the arts and education as the workhorses of business and commerce.

No government will tell education and the arts that they should be “like businesses” or “more business-like”. All governments will acknowledge that the arts and education run themselves in ways that are relevant for their disciplines.

All arts organisations will accept full responsibility for running themselves efficiently and effectively.

Every arts organisation will have one or more representative from business on their governing board. Every company will have one or more representatives from the arts and education on their governing board.

Government will set a strict cap on how much money arts organisations can spend on management consultants.

No arts organisation will set out its aims and priorities in “powerpoint” presentations which consist of bullet points only and contain no verbs or complete sentences.

No arts organisation will use in its Vision or Mission Statement words such as “excellent”, “passionate”, “leading”, “world class” or any other word, phrase or notion derived from management speak.

No arts or education establishment will regard, treat, deal with or otherwise think of its audiences or students as “customers”.

Every arts and education body will officially proclaim and announce that its activities are fundamentally and intentionally useless. They will ignore and disregard any request or demand to demonstrate that they are useful before they are valuable.

No arts body will be funded if they declare their aim to be primarily instrumental.

Arts and education bodies will not be asked to demonstrate the ”relevance” of what they do as a condition of funding.

Every elected representative will spend at least one night per week at an arts event or performance of some kind.

No prime minister will avoid attendance at arts events on the grounds that they court unpopularity by doing so. On the contrary they will earn it.

No prime minister will attempt to court voter popularity by claiming to like current pop groups when in truth they do not listen to them.

Every government will ensure that those who give money to the arts in their lifetime receive the benefit of tax concessions in their lifetime.

No minister will refer to the arts as “elitist”, “irrelevant”, or merely “nice to have”.

No Secretary of State for the Arts shall be precluded from becoming Prime Minister.


Sir John Tusa

John Tusa has worked in all parts of the BBC both as a producer and increasingly as a radio and television presenter. He was a main presenter of BBC Two’s Newsnight and  Managing Director of BBC World Service and was Managing Director of the Barbican Centre from 1995 to 2007. He is a regular broadcaster, conducting many interviews with artists for BBC Radio 3 and and writing and presenting BBC Radio 4’s daily explanation of 1968, Day By Day.

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

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