I’ve never cared much for history programmes on the telly – I’ve always got too hung up on playing search for the digital watch in the period drama. I heard something recently that made me think that perhaps I’ve been missing the point. I was lucky enough to hear Alan Davey, Chief Executive of Arts Council England give a lecture on the history of the Arts Council, from its origins in the 1940s as CEMA – Committee for Encouragement of Music and the Arts through to the present day.
Amazing to follow the ins and outs of varying debates and to realise that many of them have knocked about since the organisation began. The pull between the centre and the regions; the balance between so-called high and low art – or art for the minority or the majority; the tension between participation, creation and professional product.
It gave me two things – a sense of perspective and a kick up the proverbial. It’s very easy to sit on the outside and comment on what you think you see in front of you. Sometimes I reckon its necessary to have a bit of a deeper look – check out the history, the context, the bits around the simple facts you see. Might give you a bigger picture.