Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Centralising Culture.

Really welcome announcement from Andy Burnham, the Culture Minister at the Labour Party conference this morning about free theatre tickets for the under 26s. The scheme comes into action in February and will run initially for two years with ninety five theatre's releasing tickets during the quieter periods of the week.

I suspect this is all part of a larger strategy to keep the cultural Olympiad on the agenda in the build up to 2012 and is also part of a creeping attempt to curb anti-social behaviour through the raising of the school age and the provision of alternative activity to binge drinking. Free access to swimming pools was also muted today.

I'm comfortable with all of this and think that Drama students especially will benefit hugely from having the opportunity to see professional performance more regularly than their budgets will currently allow. It needs to be followed up and sustained. Perhaps the threat of recession inevitably causes a move towards a more centralised form of cultural provision, but there's something to be said for an organised programme. It's the kind of thinking that created ENSA, The Open University and even the NHS and ultimately at the heart is an understanding that access and education both have a function to play in creating a cohesive society.

The binge culture is boorish, but maybe I've now just become the tired old reactionary I vowed never to be. Freshers week at University seems just a hedonistic string of institutionally supported insanely cheap drink promotions - with lecturers being warned not to expect great attendance at morning induction sessions??!!?? It begs the question of whether there is any point to induction week. Perhaps we should just send students off on the lash for a week and then greet them with alka seltzers and de-toxing smoothies in initial lectures.

Tonight is a golf styled pub crawl - (be warned good citizens of Strawberry Hill), tomorrow the theme is school disco, Thursday UV night and Friday is a foam party all billed under the sexually provocative title of FRESH MEET.

Don't get me wrong, pubs are wonderful, beer is in the main friendly and drinking is sociable but the Student Union's programme is entirely devoid of social concern, activism and creativity and that's a chunder inducing shame.

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