More than 20 MPs want to scrap England's Art Council

More than 20 MPs want to scrap England’s Art Council over claims bosses were using taxpayers’ cash to wage ‘US-style culture war’

  • The demand comes after it was revealed that ACE is linking cash grants of over £400m a year to an international campaign that backs ‘unlearning’ whiteness
  • All bodies relying on ACE funding are being asked to agree to ‘inclusivity and relevant’ measures to promote diversity or else face sanctions
  • Condemning the guidance, the MPs said: ‘It imports the incredibly dangerous American-style culture wars into this country – something we all want to avoid’ 

More than 20 Tory MPs are calling for the abolition of England’s main arts body over claims it is using taxpayers’ cash to wage an ‘American-style culture war’.

They urged Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to consider scrapping the Arts Council England (ACE) and replacing it with a ‘less divisive body’ unless it can be reformed.

The demand comes after the Mail on Sunday revealed last week that ACE is linking cash grants of over £400 million a year to an international campaign that backs ‘unlearning’ whiteness.

Museums, galleries and other bodies relying on ACE funding are being asked to agree to ‘inclusivity and relevant’ measures to promote diversity – with sanctions threatened on those that miss targets.

More than 20 Tory MPs urged Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries to consider scrapping the Arts Council England (ACE) and replacing it with a ‘less divisive body’ unless it can be reformed

The conditions, which apply for the vital new three-year round of ‘National Portfolio’ arts grants, appear to be inspired by a charity set up in the US which talks about ‘unlearning’ certain practices – including ‘whiteness’.

ACE has denied making funding conditional on meeting the inclusivity targets despite issuing guidance that threatens sanctions on bodies that fail to meet such targets.

And in a scathing letter to Ms Dorries, 22 Tory MPs – including Sir John Hayes, chairman of the party’s Common Sense Group – said they were appalled to discover that ACE was ‘awarding grants of taxpayers’ money to organisations that comply with a racially-motivated agenda, and using the threat of sanctions to enforce it’.

The MPs, including Red Wall Tories Lee Anderson and Ben Bradley, made clear that such use of public cash could not be justified when ‘our constituents are already facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

‘Yet the fruits of their hard work are being used to divide society and implement racist policies’.

Condemning the ACE guidance, the MPs added: ‘It imports the incredibly dangerous American-style culture wars into this country – something we all want to avoid.’

The demand comes after the Mail on Sunday revealed last week that ACE is linking cash grants of over £400 million a year to an international campaign that backs ‘unlearning’ whiteness

They told the Culture Secretary: ‘The Arts Council is in urgent need of reform, and if it is impossible to reform it, then it should be scrapped and replaced with a less divisive body.’

In guidance on its website, ACE says that ‘we will be asking all organisations who apply for regular investment from the Arts Council to agree on actions and targets to diversify their governance, leadership, workforce, programming and audiences as part of their funding’.

Organisations will be asked to identify ‘which communities are under-represented internally across their workforce, leadership and governing bodies as well as across their programming and audiences’.

And it warns how ‘we will be introducing sanctions that will apply to organisations that fail to make sufficient progress against the targets they have set’.

However, the Arts Council has said that ‘we do not make funding conditional on inclusivity targets, nor have we threatened to withdraw funds from organisations on this basis’.

It also insisted that ‘we have never used the term ‘unlearn whiteness’.

Source: Read Full Article