RCA Society

“An Alternative Vision”

“It is vital that full consideration is given to what constitutes a progressive policy for the arts and culture in a democratic society. ‘An alternative vision’ is intended to provoke and assist that debate.”

The PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) launched its commissioned publication ‘manifesto for culture’ “An Alternative Vision” in the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House on Wednesday 11 December. This intensely informative document was three years in the making. It was researched and written by Roger Siefert (Professor of Industrial Relations and Human Resources Management - University of Wolverhampton Business School) and Mike Ironside (retired Snr Lecturer in Industrial Relations, Keele University). The PCS, alongside with UCL, Unite, Unison and BECTU trade unions, represent staff who work in the so called “Cultural Sector” - the nation’s Museums, Galleries, and Art / Cultural Centres.

In recent years the cultural sector in the public domain has been hard hit by the Government’s ideological position which favours privatisation of services that were traditionally provided through the public purse. The present coalition government’s continuing policy of cuts in public finance is resulting in an increasing loss of jobs and services. This sad state of affairs which is killing off our public services and transferring public assets to the private sector was eloquently presented to an audience of trade unionists and MPs.

The publication is an absolutely essential read. It arms us with the financial, economic and intellectual arguments with which to challenge the stupidity of the current coalition government’s anti social policies. Policies which are leading us into a feudalistic society, which manages elitist cultural programmes that are obscenely reliant on the “philanthropy of the poor”. 

“Government cuts are damaging the fabric of our cultural life. In 2012 DCMS was reduced to a rump of officials operating out of the Treasury. Since 2010 its total budget has been cut by almost a third. In 2012 it was £2.54 billion. By 2014 it will be £1.2billion. In 2015/16 it will lose a further 10% of that. This is not enough to sustain and facilitiate the country’s cultural life.”

The recent “Autumn Statement” is proof of the Coalition Government’s cynical solution to an economic crisis. Recent direct actions of workers  against job losses in theatres, museums and galleries, cuts in grant support or “outsourcing” (privatisation) of services and demonstrations by students at the University of London against policies which threaten the future of their Union and their University cleaners’ contracts are proof that the public is sensing that very soon everyone will be in a position where there is nothing left to lose.... The next step is to read the report, rapidly digest the facts, and then take collective and constructive action to save the cultural life of this country before it’s too late. 

Copies of “An Alternative vision for the Culture Sector” - researched and written by Roger Seifert and Mike Ironside are available from the PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) - pcs.org.uk

Keep up to date with the impact of government "cuts" on the arts through the "lost arts" website: http://lost-art.org

"Lost Arts" campaign has been set up by 8 Trade Unions (BECTU, NUJ, Equity, PCS, MU, Unite, Writers Guild, Prospect) who represent professionals working across the media and cultural industries.