and now for something completely different: THE SOFT POWER OF CULTURE

Nick James, in the June 2013 issue of Sight & Sound:

"...Our government seems wilfully to misunderstand the contribution the arts make to the economy. Maria Miller, the culture secretary, has set out the government's position on funding the arts over the next few years in such a way as to prepare us for more cuts, even though, as playwright Dan Rebellato reminds us in The Guardian, current arts funding amounts to just 7p out of every £100 of public spending, in return for which the creative industries account for 6.2 per cent of the goods and services in the economy, £16.6 billion in exports and 2 million jobs."

But, of course, "art"'s contribution to "the economy" is still seen as negligible despite punching above its means. Not just by the British government. This is why the current funding problems for Portuguese cinema and the Portuguese Cinemathèque are more important than they seem: it's essential to recognise the central role arts have not only in culture but also in feeding the undergrowth of global image and reputation. If there is one thing Portugal is known for worldwide is its culture - its writing, its music, its film, its art. What we have that is ours. Not what we have that apes what's done abroad. Not our economy. Not our politics. And yet, seldom have our political powers made a conscious effort to highlight our art and our culture. Perhaps it's too late by now. I'd like to think not.


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