By Nosheen Iqbal
New Labour have often been accused of behaving as philistines when it comes to creating or upholding policy that supports or enriches the arts in Britain. From practitioners and artists to the chiefs of our national arts institutions, a chorus of disapproval and disgust has been been bubbling under the radar for nigh on a decade. On the flipside, despite the current diversion of lottery funds from the arts to the 2012 Olympics, this government have, apparently, committed to more arts funding than any before it.
So, what's the truth here? Are the party under Tony Blair and subsequently, Gordon Brown, responsible for encouraging populist, commercial trash appealing to the lowest common denominator? Or have they broken down the barriers of elitism and made the arts more accessible? Moreover, with regards to arts and our audience, is govermental use and promotion of language like 'BME' (Black minority ethnic) or 'BAMER' (Black, Asian, minority ethnic, refugee') a help or a hindrance to artists and organisations from the 'Sector'?
Five young artists from the Young People's Participatory Theatre project went to Whitehall earlier this year to quiz Margaret Hodge (at the time Minister for Culture heading the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). Take a look at their exclusive interview here:
Nosheen graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2003, armed with a degree in American Studies alongside an award-winning stint as an editor of the university's student magazine. Upon graduating, she was employed by The Observerto work as a researcher/reviewer on Observer Music Monthly. She has subsequently worked full-time and as a regular, freelance music and arts journalist for The Mail on Sunday, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Observer and The New Statesmanamongst others. Nosheen joined Sustained Theatreas Web Editor in March 2008, having spent two years working as a Senior Web Editor on lifestyle websites for BSkyB.