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Margaret Hodge: Arts world remains closed off to most

3rd March 2010

The culture minister has criticised the UK's arts world for maintaining a 'closed shop' attitude.

Speaking to the Demos thinktank, Margaret Hodge claimed the arts scene tends to favour a select few, especially those who are privately educated, and can be a hard sector for outsiders to find employment in.

'Billy Elliot and Strictly Come Dancing may widen aspirations, but the closed shop culture, whereby networking and nepotism open doors and unpaid internships are the most common way the sector rations opportunities, indicates we have a long way to go,' she commented.

In her speech, which claimed the current Labour government has ushered in a golden age for the arts, Mrs Hodge said budget cuts to the sector would not greatly help wider public spending reduction goals and could cause 'untold damage' to the country's cultural capability and infrastructure.

The minister also applauded the cultural scene, revealing that 9.4 million adults take part in voluntary and amateur arts groups and two-thirds of the pubic believe investment in historical sites improves the UK.

However, Michael Attenborough, artistic director of the Almeida Theatre in Islington, told the Daily Telegraph that while he agrees that access to the arts world needs to be increased, he thinks Mrs Hodge's views do not reflect the modern scene.

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