middle class, between bureaucrats and politicians, betweenngreat institutions of the arts and small, unnoted regionalnhopefuls, between established forms like opera and thenyet-to-be-evolved forms of avant-garde. Far from settling thenmatter of arts patronage, the operation of the British ArtsnCouncil seems to have made hostilities much more visible.nAnd clearly the object of most hostility is what one writernhas called “the general right to participate.”nIf art is thought of as without standing definitions—anprocess or activity which everyone can share not as audiencenbut actually as artists—then clearly it becomes difficultnto justify the old style of patronage. Why give money tonthe Royal Shakespeare when the man in the street deservesnequally the chance to manifest his artistic potentialities?nUnder the name of experimental art or public art, dependingnon which country we are talking about, new propositionsnare generated faster than the money to support them.nArt for youth or for age. Art in public places or for unions.nArt laboratories or experimental centers. Art for most thingsnwhich, finally, will attack and defeat the obsolete bourgeoisntradition. As an extension of political theory, art forneveryone tends to mean that the old patrons, institutions,nand ideas will be rejected by a society newly conscious of itsnpolitical aims.nWe tend to think that art should entertain or inspire. ButnRaymond Williams, read on both sides of the Atlantic andnrepresentative of many academics here and abroad, thinksnof it as a terrain important to capture in the war against thenmiddle class. According to one of his recent statements, ourncultural institutions are really arms of the state. Schools andnmuseums do nothing more than inculcate tired old middleclassnvalues. They make us respect values that no longernmatter. And he is enraged whenever a mus.eum paysnmillions for an acquisition, or when a class of schoolchildrennis taken to an exhibition which suggests to them thatnart is a realm separate from most people’s lives, and annactivity which is based upon natural distinctions of talent. Itnis important for his argument to see art as a kind of bribe ofnthe state: a package of meaningless but attractive valuesnexhibited in a temple of the middle class. The Romans hadnbread and circuses to distract the masses; we have art to giventhem the illusion that life matters, that our form ofngovernment has any humanity at all. Clearly for Williamsnand for many others art should be a form of new consciousness:nit should make us aware not of the beauty in the eye ofnthe artist but of the ugliness of capitalism.nIt is exceptionally interesting to see what the aims of thisnkind of art are. The goals of an artist working in anynmedium are no longer to produce something which had notnexisted, or existed so well before. It is certainly not to createnbeauty. Here, in Williams’s words, is what art shouldnsuggest: “A redivision of labour; unrestricted access tongeneral education; a childhood centred on the capacity forndevelopment rather than geared to economic performance;na new communal life based on autonomous group activities.”nIn short, a new life. Art is not a produced object, butnan idea about ideal human relations. It is something we allndo in our daily lives, not something done only rarely by annindividual with distinctive talent.nAs you can see, the reasons why we should have the statenpatronize art are almost too various to organize. But therenare some major themes: we should support either what isntradihonal, or what is new. We should either use art tonglorify the state, or to delegitimize it. Art is therapy fornsocial pathology, a useful activity for the retired; a remindernof democrahc equality. It may even be a reward fornconstituencies. Running through each of the arguments Inhave described is one common theme: that art is utilitarian.nIt is good not in itself, but insofar as it serves somethingnelse. There is another theme conspicuous by its invisibility:nthat there is no particular reason to support art for aesthehcnpurposes.nThe government subvention of art, not to speak of ourngeneral understanding of art, has become almost terminallynconfused. Art now means almost anything: it can be anpainting by Titian purchased for five million dollars by thenMet or the hanging of thousands of square yards of dry washnover the Colorado River or simply any individual intentionnto be creative. Possibly some attempt should be made tonstraighten out not only these matters of definition andnidentity, but the actual problem of giving money to promotenartistic production. That seems to be necessary. AsnBanfield has noted, one “Vito Acconci is said to call thenNew York Times regularly to announce that his breathing isnart.” And Michael Straight, the former vice chairman ofnthe National Endowment for the Arts has cited amongnothers the following application for funds:nI will rent a ground level studio with high ceilings andna cement floor, adjacent to a lush meadow. And tonthis place I will bring some friends and some strangers.nI will bring Pigme, a full grown sow (whom I havenknown since her ninth day), two female rabbits (whonknow each other and me), a buck (stranger), twonringed neck doves (strangers), a woolly monkey,nGeorgina (who knows me slightly), a cat, Blackflashn(who knows me), a young boy, Brett (who knows menand the two female rabbits), and a young girl, Lavinan(who knows me and Brett slightly). We will all movenin together.nThe proposal continued to suggest that this would be a formnof environmental art with social utility. Although it requestednfunds for video equipment and a motorbike, its emphasisnclearly was on what it called “the educational value, for allnof us.” Two things might be noted about this. The first, thatnthe artist knows current dogma. While the statement isnprofoundly silly the ideas are all in place: that art is a kind ofnpersonal development, that it affects the “environment,”nthat it has social consequences, that it is educational. Ansecond point is possibly more interesting: the proposal wasnfunded.nHard cases make bad law. But the manifestation of manynsuch cases indicates that a message sent has been received: itnis not that this is an anomaly, but that it reflects in its tiny,nmindless way the misconceptions which feed such responses.nTo insist that art is an intention rather than a creation isnto create such little Frankensteins.nThere are certain governing themes to political subsidy.nOne is that it should be wide rather than deep: better to givensome money to everyone than no money to those who maynsupport you. Or rise up in arms against you. This makes itndifficult to construct a British Arts Council and its four greatnnnAPRIL 1985/21n