Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Did you catch this headline a few days ago?

Theatre more popular than sport in Great Britain, survey says

It didn’t surprise me, coming from the country that produced Shakespeare, but what did was the fact that the research had been done by a government agency: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This is a government agency in the U.K., and its website states:

“Our aim is to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries.”

Maybe one reason why more people attend theatre in the U.K. is that the Brits lump their culture together with other mass-market activities like tourism, leisure, and sports. The arts are considered a part of daily life, contributing to the economy, and, I dare say, are considered “entertainment.”

What would happen if we did that here? I bet we would think differently about national policy to support the arts. Maybe the oft-quoted justification that the arts are simply “good for society” would be folded into a much larger and more relevant and richer context.

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