Intentions & effects : the rhetoric of current cultural policy in England
As its title suggests, this thesis - the critical commentary together with a body of published works - questions the effectiveness of cultural policy with respect to museums and galleries in England. Its focus is on cultural policy under New Labour, and its implementation through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in particular. The department was established within months of the 1997 election and was intended to ensure the effective delivery of government objectives from the outset. This entailed the department's 'comprehensive reform' of the `cultural framework', its pursuit of an instrumentalist agenda and its desire to determine and direct the effectiveness of its sponsored bodies. This effort was predicated on the assumption that there is an implicit and highly determined relationship between policy, funding, implementation and outcomes. Nevertheless, however strategic DCMS's actions might have been, there is little hard evidence of its effectiveness. The process of converting intention into effect appears to have proved more problematic than the rhetoric suggests. In setting out and supporting that proposition, this thesis describes those policies which have determined support for the cultural sector since 1997, particularly in respect of museums and galleries. It considers their background and implementation, summarises the financial value of the support provided and interrogates the evidence as to their outcomes. It argues that, as yet, many of the objectives shared by DCMS and its so-called 'family' of sponsored bodies have not yet been delivered, and that many of the claims made for the subsidised cultural sector more generally remain unsubstantiated. It also points to recent signs that suggest that the department is now wavering on its original ambitions.