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September 15, 2014


Sophia Grene

I would argue that participation in the arts is a good in itself, as you can deduce from the fact that so many participate despite the lack of material reward.
Making it harder for poorer people to become artists or performers is yet another limitation to their lives.


You're overlooking the most important point.

Compared to the working class output you've cited, what the poshos produce is utter shite.


The arts and media have been dominated by people down in London for as long as I can remember, but I don't recollect any lefties getting worked up about it.

gastro george

"Culturally, the recent recession didn't happen."

I'd contend that this is your most succinct and accurate insight for a while. [That's meant as a compliment, BTW]


In terms of contemporary stature in the 1930s, neither George Orwell nor Woody Guthrie remotely resembled what they are now, posthumously. Orwell's early work did not sell well at the time and was only discovered in the wake of his two late 1940s novels. And roughly the same goes for Guthrie and the 1950s/1960s folk revival.

So perhaps there was an artistic equivalent to them even during "the recent Great Recession", but it still remains to be discovered very widely.

From today's viewpoint, what is perhaps more striking about the 1930s recession is all the popular art that did comment on current affairs quite explicitly, but in an optimistic vein - without yet sounding false or propagandistic. If it's hard to imagine a contemporary Orwell, then to imagine a contemporary Gracie Fields is positively insuperable. And of the two absences, hers may be inadvertently revealing of something even more important than his.

Dave Timoney

The leading contemporary depictions of the slump and working class life in Britain were sentimental works like 'Love on the Dole', 'The Stars Look Down' and 'How Green was my Valley', rather than the novels or reportage of the old Etonian Orwell. Popular social comment meant Max Miller and George Formby, not the Left Book Club.

Similarly, Steinbeck's contemporary popularity depended on his conservatism. 'The Grapes of Wrath' is a 19th century template of rural dispossession and revenge updated with pro-union and New Deal advocacy. 'Of Mice and Men' is a peaen to property (George and Lenny's dream of their own bit of land) and is blithely misogynistic (women were being better served in Hollywood).

The quality of popular art in the early 80s owed much to institutional factors, such as the investment in regional arts (Bleasdale, Russell et al) in the preceding decades, and the availability of social security and relatively cheap housing for budding artists. Culturally, the recent recession was reduced to improvised street theatre in the summer of 2011, though there may also have been a passing reference on Mock the Week.

Churm Rincewind

I notice that both Nick Cohen and your good self pass over the predominance of Oxbridge graduates in senior positions, as described in the paper you cite, and prefer instead to offer a critique of the "domination" of those who have attended private schools.

Yet the access to power afforded by an Oxbridge education would seem to be significant. In the case of journalism, for example, only 44% of columnists attended private school while 47% are Oxbridge graduates.

Yet both of you avoid mentioning this point. I can't imagine why.

Well yes I can, but irony has its limits.


what do i see

benefits street

new york skyscrapers with peter gabriel booming out big time

pikettys plot of capital destruction and rebound

del boy and rod oh wait


Perhaps this is a symptom of job pressure, we are all middle class now and the nice jobs are getting fewer and harder to get into. So nice boys and girls are migrating into jobs they would otherwise have passed over, cooking, doorstepping, shopkeeping. Anyway, how can an uneducated oik do justice to a proper acting job, it takes sensitivity and years and years of History of Art degree courses daaaaarling, or a couple of seasons on Corrie.


The only TV series I have seen that referred to austerity was Mrs Brown's Boys, where her son and grandchild needed to emigrate from Ireland because there was no work. Weird, huh?


The arts/media need to open themselves up to the Ron Atkinson effect? http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2014/02/equality-the-ron-atkinson-effect.html

Phil Beesley

From the Telegraph: "Emma Thompson speaks of her nerves and "nausea" as she returns to the London stage for the first time in 25 years for Sweeney Todd"

Don't fret, lass. The woman who has been marking you can do the job equally as well. She won't show you up on the stage.

Socialism In One Bedroom

"The careers of Edward and James Fox show there have always been upper-class actors, and I would not have it any other way"

Cohen sort of destroys his entire argument with this line if you ask me.

I think Churm has a point re Oxbridge. This is the only thing that explains Owen Jones for example, no offence to Jones whom I have a lot of time for,

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