Sunday, December 03, 2006

'The cultural establishment in general stands firmly behind left-liberal lines. For how long?' asks Peter Whittle and his guests in Culture Clash

The thing to watch on 18 Doughty Street Talk TV, at 8.30pm GMT on Tuesday, December 5th

During an interview earlier this year, the National Theatre’s director Nicholas Hytner said that one thing he would really like to see there in the future would be a ‘good, mischievous, right-wing play.’

The underlying implication in Hytner’s statement - that such a production would be an unusual occurrence, a naughty aberration, a guilty pleasure - would certainly have confirmed many in their conviction that the cultural establishment in general stands firmly behind left-liberal lines. The right may have won the economic battles, but in the culture wars, the left were victorious.

But is this really true? And if it is, why are there no alternative voices? Do not conservatives - or indeed those others opposed to the increasingly stifling and predictable liberal/left line - do these kinds of things? There is the rather complacent view, still cleaved to in the cultural establishment, that broadly speaking the right conserves, and the left creates, and that the most enduring art tends to be subversive. However where does that leave such giant figures as Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward, Graham Green or Edward Elgar, to name a few from this country alone?

What does seem undeniable is that if there are right-of-centre artists or writers out there now, they’re certainly keeping a low profile. Or is it possible that we’re looking at this the wrong way?

With me to discuss this are Michael Attwell, TV producer and a former chairman of BAFTA, Susan Shaw, senior producer of the South Bank Show, writer and commentator Douglas Murray, and Clive Davis, , journalist and regular contributor to The Times and The Washington Times.

To read as an introduction to the discussion: Arts and The Right, a piece by Peter Whittle for The Sunday Times

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