Sunday, 13 July 2003

Fancy a job, two days a week - unpaid?

Let's leave whimsy to look after itself for a bit and get furious instead. Yesterday's post (July 2003) brought me a letter and advert telling me that the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) have recently advertised the vacancy of Chair of the Arts Council England (ACE) now that multi-millionaire and John-Harvey-Jones-for-the-new -millennium Gerry Robinson is moving on. The letter asked me if I would circulate the advert amongst my networks. Unfortunately, I do not number multi-millionaires such as Gerry, or Lords Palumbo or Gowrie (ex ACE chairs) among my aquaintance who can delight in the rigours of ACE for no payment for two fifths of their working week. If I remember rightly, Gowrie didn't initially accept the role in the 1990s because of the lack of pay, and it would seem that nothing has changed. Are we really, so deep in new Labour times, still under the misapprehension that you need to be rich or richly retired in order to take on what is a pretty major public role? The Chair of the Arts Council of Wales is paid, and rightly so. I have several people in my "network" (ghastly phrase) who would be exceptional candidates for the role. I do not know the intimate details of their bank balances, but am horrified that DCMS expect that a glinting heap of gold is a necessary pre-requisite to becoming or even considering the ACE Chair. It's about time the Government and ACE stopped talking about Arts for All and started delivering arts for all by paying for the skill and dedication they require to advocate and develop policy at the very top. Apparently, arts policy making is only for the incredibly wealthy. Shame on you!

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