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Our policies on culture are failing; Views of the North.

THE arrival of Baltic 39 was heralded, with a pledge of over pounds 1.1m of new public money, over the next three years (The Journal, March 1).

Less than three weeks before, the Waygood Archive was opened within the High Bridge Studios.

It can be appreciated why Councillor Henri Murson "Won't seek to disclaim its history" when speaking about the High Bridge building, but leaving the stewardship of that history to someone with such a vested interest is foolish.

This only goes to prove the ongoing influence of the previous regime, despite repeated assurances to the contrary.

Waygood has not been "wound up" as has been reported on several occasions. Anyone can confirm this by searching for Waygood Gallery Limited on the Companies House website.

Two years ago, when announcing that the contractors, Rok, had completed the renovation work on the High Bridge Gallery, Tony Durcan, head of culture, libraries and lifelong learning at Newcastle city council, stated in the Journal on April 1, 2010: "If it's popular, people will forget the cost."

The creation of public approval not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and best of all, through forgetfulness, is a trick that many an old regime still clinging on to power has used.

A leadership that entertains its people with the expressed intention to lull them into forgetfulness is not what should be driving a good, honest, healthy cultural policy in this day and age.

The public deserve a respectful cultural leadership that allows matters of substance and consequence to arise and be investigated. Today's cultural controllers should heed the warning that the bread and circuses that they supply are not guaranteed to pacify or induce distracted absentmindedness in the general public...no matter how popular their curatorial programme is.

TOPSY QUR'ET, Byker, Newcastle.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2012
Words:305
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