Future Events

Forthcoming NCF Event

You are invited to the launch of

What’s That Thing?

A Report on Public Art by Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Tuesday 15th May 2012 at 12 midday

at 55 Tufton Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3QL

RSVP to prwhittle@btinternet.com

‘Public art is ... a load of ugly, pompous, pretentious and narcissistic rubbish dumped on a snoozing public by arrogant bureaucrats and sponsors.’ Jonathan Jones, art critic of the Guardian

Public art is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous and controversial presence. More unsolicited installations and sculptures rose up in the 1990s and 2000s than in the entire century before. Last year the public art industry was said to be worth £56 million, much of it subsidised by the taxpayer. Despite the notable successes, the surge is being met with rising public and critical disquiet. Very little public art of the past twenty years has much to do with the public it purports to be addressing and with which it presumptuously associates itself. Yet the reason why there is so much of it and why so much of it is of such dubious quality is that it claims to be a public service. Today’s public sculpture claims to foster ‘community cohesion’, bring in investment, boost property prices, fight crime and ease traffic.

Most of the art of recent decades has been commissioned with the express aim of satisfying these instrumentalist goals. The myriad claims made on behalf of public art are, statistically and conceptually, without foundation. Yet these claims have been elevated over the one objective that can be controlled and that does matter: quality. Everything about the process by which public art is commissioned today militates against the commissioning of good artists and the creation of good art.

This important new report explores the processes by which public art comes into being and why so much of it is so bad. It goes on to make a number of recommendations as to how it may once again become both meaningful and able to embody the high artistic standard required in our public spaces.

Igor Toronyi-Lalic is a critic, curator and documentary filmmaker. He has written extensively on the arts for, among others, The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator, The Economist, London Evening Standard, Building Design and The Herald. He has made programmes for Channel 4 and Radio Three. He curated the critically acclaimed music festival, '50 Years of Minimalism', which is currently touring Europe. He is a co-founder of theartsdesk.com, Britain's first professional arts critical website.

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Submitted by peterwhittle on Tue, 2012-05-01 10:28.

Future Event

You are Invited to Hear

The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics & Sport

Making Philanthropy Mainstream

Thursday December 8th at 5pm

at 55 Tufton Street, London SW1P 3QL

RSVP  prwhittle@btinternet.com

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Submitted by peterwhittle on Mon, 2011-11-21 14:33.

Forthcoming NCF Event

You are invited to


Has the working class been demonized?

A discussion event with a panel of speakers including:

Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The demonization of the working class

Brendan O’Neill, Editor of Spiked Online

Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor, Daily Mirror

6.30pm for 7pm, Tuesday, July 5th

55 Tufton Street London SW1P 3QL

RSVP to prwhittle@btinternet.com

In modern Britain it seems that the working class is an object of fear and ridicule. From Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard to the demonization of Jade Goody, media and politicians alike dismiss as feckless, criminalized and ignorant a vast, underprivileged swathe of society whose members have become stereotyped by one, hate-filled word: chavs.

Was it ever thus, or is this a new phenomenon? Are ‘chavs’ and the working class one and the same thing, or are they in fact distinct groups? Is there even a working class? And if so, is it really true that it’s the one group considered fair game for insult and criticism?

And if this demonization is something new, is it the result of the destruction wrought by Thatcherism, or is it simply that the working class doesn’t fit with the picture of a modern multicultural Britain?

We hope you can join us.

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Submitted by peterwhittle on Wed, 2011-06-08 13:12.

18th April Event: Monarchy Matters

You are invited to the launch of the SAU Publication


By Peter Whittle

On Monday 18TH April 6.30pm at 55 Tufton Street London SW1P 3QL

RSVP to prwhittle@btinternet.com

2012 sees the Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession. Such an important historical event will certainly be celebrated with the enthusiasm which greeted her Silver and Golden Jubilees – an enthusiasm which on those occasions took much of the country by surprise. Elizabeth II is now an institution in herself – widely respected, and held in great affection. It could be the biggest Jubilee yet.

But what about the monarchy itself? In this robust defense of the institution, Peter Whittle, the writer, broadcaster and director of the New Culture Forum looks at the continuing advantages of the monarchical system, and explores its current state of health. He describes its unique ability to act as a binding force in an increasingly fragmented society – a function which will surely grow in importance in the coming years. He explores the extent of public support for the institution, which, contrary to received wisdom, remains remarkably stable and unchanging despite what has become a largely antipathetic cultural atmosphere. He argues that Bagehot’s maxim that the monarchy couldn’t survive if ‘daylight’ were let in on ‘magic’ has proved false, and that its survival after a period of unprecedented crises and media scrutiny is testament to its strength. He describes the ongoing benefits of a monarch as an impartial, non-political Head of State, at a time when the institution has been buffeted by a cultural onslaught from the left on one side and the impatience of free-marketeers on the other. He looks at the future, and the safety of a throne occupied by Charles III or a William V.

Finally he makes some suggestions as to how the upcoming Diamond Jubilee might be celebrated – and why it offers a great opportunity for an increasingly atomized society to come together.

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Submitted by peterwhittle on Fri, 2011-03-25 15:06.
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