It has always struck me that it is pretty easy for the conductor of some regional orchestra to get himself a knighthood and yet we’ve got a situation where Ringo Starr and Jimmy Page aren’t even knights... Popular music is almost routinely ignored. As a nation, there is a certain deference that one style of art is inherently better than another. That’s a tremendous shame.Now leaving the specifics aside (as far as I’m concerned, the best musician in Led Zeppelin was their dead drummer), Ms Bagshawe does raise a few interesting points and unwittingly exposes a paradox at the core of modern conservatism. On one side, you have old-style Burkeans and cultural conservatives, who believe that certain manifestations of culture, such as the regional orchestras of which Bagshawe speaks, are inherently worthy of respect and attention and public support: check out Simon Heffer’s analysis of which bits of the BBC are worth saving.
And then there are the populist libertarians — with whom Ms Bagshawe seems to identify — who would argue that art has to scrap it out in the marketplace. Chick lit and stadium rock have some kind of moral advantage because they represent What The People Want, and thus require no state subsidy. This is the argument that Simon Cowell uses when his back is against the wall, and is also deployed by outright opponents of the BBC licence fee.
I’m on neither side, but then I’m not a Tory, so I’m quite happy to point out that the two views are intellectually incompatible. Moreover, there’s a vast territory of artistic endeavour that would attract support from neither camp. Also from the Telegraph, read Lucy Jones’s piece on Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s Barbican installation, then some of the responses to it.