The End of the Beginning

David Lee
May/June 2020

A few inches of headway have finally been made in drawing wider public attention to the power grabs of the Arts Council and the political and social prejudices of State Art in general. The House of Commons Culture Select Committee must now get its act together and take to task the arts bodies that have become breeding grounds for such obsessive beliefs. Not having any further excuse for inaction, it should pay more attention to the conditions under which £470 million is distributed.

A report just published by Arts Professional (AP) exposes the suffocating biases imposed by our major arts institutions. AP is an independent website unsupported by the Arts Council and, therefore, like The Jackdaw, immune to its menaces. If AP had been dependent on Council subsidy, as so many similar organisations are, they couldn’t have published their damning dossier of evidence into the thinking of museum staff, because any grant they received would instantly have been withdrawn. Arts commentator and music specialist, Richard Morrison of the Times, was brave enough to bring this report to wider attention otherwise, like all other criticisms of the visual art establishment, it might have been conveniently ignored. Extracts of his powerful piece are quoted on page 39. No other newspaper has touched the story, which in itself speaks volumes for their tacit complicity in what is a disgusting system.

The findings will terrify anyone who thought open debate, argument and consensus, fairness and equality are better ways of conducting business and making decisions than by a secretive, ‘woke’, ideologically driven clique. It discovered that museum staff are routinely ostracised, threatened and gagged and are fearful to express opinions contrary to those dominating the Arts Council and its dependent clients. Even to question State Art fixations with climate change, Brexit, quota programming, sexuality and gender matters, is a passport to career stall or worse. For curators, adherence to political correctness is a more important qualification than scholarship. Since this system began to evolve 30 years ago, the AP poll is the first time that what was previously highlighted only in these pages has been independently confirmed. It shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. If the personal shock of one as eminent as Richard Morrison doesn’t carry any influence with the Culture Select Committee then we really are dealing with a self-perpetuating regime which an elected Government is too cowardly to confront.

A recent example of the prejudice with which this Leftist sect controls the Arts Council, galleries, museums and art education illustrates an intolerance of any alternative belief. Alexander Adams recently reviewed a book, Women Can’t Paint, in the current issue of an impressive new monthly journal, The Critic. Deploying his usual forensic manner, he dismantled the premises of a gender/racial/sexuality-obsessed approach to art history. Laughably, threats were made against him simply, it seemed to me, for holding views opposed to the author’s. One riposte accused Alexander as well as anyone who supports him – among others, myself – of being ‘Nazis’; a tag, in my experience, always the first resort of the intellectually slovenly.

I made the mistake of trying to read Women Can’t Paint myself. Abseiling down the Gherkin in a typhoon would have been easier than getting through the long, self-satisfied introduction. Worse was to come. I surrendered thoroughly exhausted at the end of the first sentence of Chapter 1, which reads: “In this chapter, I will reflect upon the masculinities and femininities in contemporary art.” Whatever that means. Amazing, is it not, how one short sentence, a mere fourteen words, can make the will to live crash in flames with no survivors. After reading that you just know only bottomless tedium awaits. It would have taken a bung worthy of Brian Clough to get me to start the second sentence, for the style owns all the tone-deaf inelegance typical of polytechnic feminist writing; that species of ghastly prose which makes you wonder wistfully where are the heirs to Lady Eastlake and Anita Brookner. Anyway, the point is that the author is so brainwashed by her own rectitude as to believe there is no rational opposition to her opinions and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an obvious … Nazi I suppose.

AP’s research now demonstrates compellingly that the mindset described here typifies the general attitude and demeanour of State Art. Come on Mr Committee Chairman Julian Knight MP, it’s about time you started investigating the bigotries of these undemocratic activists.