The arts are manifold these days, re-enchanting and rejuvenating cityscapes as best they can, which is great. The post-industrial world needed new reasons to get us out of the house and, when we noticed the stasis of online life, we again wanted to get out.
So I hate to rain on the parade, but there's a problem with this new cultureverse. As a filmmaker, I regularly tour around the major arts venues and cinemas in the
Here's what I mean. I grew up in working-class
My parents didn't go to such places, which was fine. Their culture was
But still, some help out in the city would have been handy. The problem is that while the content of the arts venues in
Now, most good arts venues have children's programmes and outreach and inclusion policies, and they really want to involve the whole community. But so often, their sleek lines, or facades that look like office buildings, their malbecs and chorizo-studded menus are too culturally thin.
I like malbec and chorizo too, but is it OK to mention the mirthless, un-tactile, cold-to-the-eye aspect of "cool" arts venues? I'm not naming names here because, as I say, these places are working hard, doing good and precipitating new communities, but they need to be broader.
Forgive my generalisations and my bluntness, but there's sometimes a deadness that comes when middle-class people run stuff. They get the content right, the ideas, the themes, the politics. But they haven't a clue about how to embrace things. They don't understand all that's caught in the lovely Danish word "hygge", a sort of cosiness. They don't understand the warmth and feel of buildings, so well described by the writer
Too often, also, they talk about guilty pleasures, which to me alway smacks of people ashamed of their emotions. By contrast, the old movie palaces of the 1920s and 1930s made working-class people, as well as everyone else, feel glamorous, flirty, elsewhere and very much welcome.
I recognise, as I noted, these are generalisations, but there's truth in them. In the film magazine Sight and Sound, recently, I argued that cinema, which started as cheap entertainment, is at its best when it is a hi-lo country, mixing, if you like, working-class and posh elements. The best British films -
The same goes for venues. Yes, beam in opera, but have fishfinger sandwiches too. Yes, have Ethiopian goat curry, but screen Strictly too. In the little movie events that
This isn't only a problem in the
Those of us who crossed over to the "other side", who moved from working-class lives to middle-class worlds, found that
Let's not be coy. It's my world now - I've shown my films or curated seasons in such buildings around the globe - and yet it's still not entirely my world. At worst, our arts venues scare people or make them feel stupid or small. Even now, I am often intimidated by them. I remember my teenage trepidation, my worry that such places were not for the likes of me.
We are missing so much by not nicking the best ideas from working-class culture - the texture, the glow - and adding it to how our arts venues work. I am delighted to live in the cultureverse, but it needs to be a multi- not uni- verse. It needs to be the cake, not just the icing. It needs to mix its metaphors, as I've just done. It needs to make sure that arts venues aren't just places that taxi drivers drop people off at. Right, I'm off to
Most Popular Stories
- U.S. Families 'Extraordinarily Vulnerable': Yellen
- Hillary Clinton to Address CHCI Conference
- Larry Ellison Steps Down as Oracle CEO
- Alibaba Prices IPO at $68 a Share
- Apple Locks Itself Out of Devices
- Veterans to Get Training as Solar Panel Installers
- Hispanics Doubt Marco Rubio's Chances
- Wildfires Rage in California
- John Cantlie Delivers ISIS Message to Save Life
- Alibaba: Today China, Tomorrow the World