The popular, the diverse and the excellent: Political values and UK cultural policy

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12 Citations (Scopus)


This article is about the political values that underpin cultural policy in the UK. In particular, it explores the politics behind the competing goals set for cultural policy and how politicians negotiate the rival appeals of promoting excellence and enabling diversity, while still claiming to represent the people. It focuses upon two important New Labour pronouncements on cultural policy, Tessa Jowell's Government and the Value of Culture and Brian McMaster's Supporting Excellence in the Arts: From Measurement to Judgement. These both argue for making ‘excellence’, as opposed to ‘diversity’, the central value for cultural policy. Drawing on the arguments of Brian Barry, Bhikhu Parekh and Ronald Dworkin, the article looks at how ideas of diversity, excellence and the popular form part of contrasting political ideologies, values and practices, and at what is at stake in choosing between them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-393
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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