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Platform Paper 47
In this prophetic, passionately argued essay Justin O’Connor navigates his way through the social changes since the 1960s that have divided art from culture and married creativity to material profit. Today the rapid growth of cultural
consumption and the contribution of cultural services to the wider economy have brought about a crisis in cultural policy which has devastated the arts. So trapped are the arts in the language of metrics that their real intention can no longer be understood. We must learn to share a common language of public value. The cultural sector deserves to be treated as other public good is, like health and education, which occupy a large place in our market, and yet the market is not seen as the reason for their existence. O’Connor calls on the cultural sector not to retreat from the marketplace but make a rigorous, open-eyed engagement with it. What is at stake in culture—as it has always been— are the great questions of ultimate value: of how we can live together and what the quality of our collective life should be.
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