Master of the Queen's Music Calls Prime Minister's Arts Policy 'Philistine'

Classic Arts News   Master of the Queen's Music Calls Prime Minister's Arts Policy 'Philistine'
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, one of Great Britain's most prominent living composers and currently the Master of the Queen's Music, is expected to attack Prime Minister Tony Blair's attitude to art in a speech on Thursday (April 12) at the annual conference of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

U.K. newspapers have printed what appear to be quotes from Davies's speech, which has evidently been released to the media in advanced. He is expected to condemn "this utterly philistine government, whose Prime Minister made a platitudinous speech on the Government's record on the arts, about the health of the arts in Britain, when his own horizons are rock and pop." (Blair delivered the speech in question at the Tate Modern Gallery in London several weeks ago.)

The 72-year-old composer also plans, according to The Daily Telegraph, to accuse the Labor Party of prioritizing money over culture, suggesting that the party's motto should be "I consume, therefore I am."

Another Davies statement quoted by the Telegraph says, "Poor education has deprived millions of the possibility of expressing themselves cogently. Of course, keeping people in a state of ignorance is good for the government. It precludes the possibility of articulate criticism and induces apathy."

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, however, insisted that the Blair government is committed to the arts, saying, "Arts funding has increased by 73 per cent in real terms since 1997. That's not insubstantial."

The British government recently infuriated the arts community by announcing that around Ô£90 million of National Lottery funds would be diverted from the arts in order to pay for the 2012 Olympics in London. The budget for grants of the Arts Council of England would be cut by 35%, effective April 1.

Peter Hewitt, the chief executive of Arts Council England, told the Telegraph, "We still believe that the 2012 Olympics presents a real opportunity for arts and culture. But we are deeply disappointed that more money is to be diverted from the arts to pay for the Games."

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