Death to Knowledge is the striking title of a piece of work from Marina de Stacpoole, an innovative artist who combines strong images with political critique in her new exhibition opening in April. It is inspired by the UK government’s assault on arts and culture. A banking crisis caused by lack of regulation after decades of neo-liberal economics is being used to justify an even more market based system in the UK. £bns of spending cuts are being made, justified by government debt as a way of rolling back the state and introducing corporate control. The debt excuse is hollow, taxes are being cut for businesses and money can be found to bomb Libya and fund the banks. This weeks budget is to announce that Britain’s much loved National Health Service is to be dismantled with profit making corporations brought into run hospitals.
However culture is at the forefront of such attacks. Funding for university courses in arts and humanities is being slashed, libraries are being cut and as in Death to Knowledge books are being thrown in the bin. Hundreds of local art centres are threatened with closure. The Film Council is to be shut down.
People in Britain are, though, in revolt. Last year saw major militant protests by students against the attack on learning. The 26th of March will see a huge protest march in London along with plans to turn Trafalgar Square into our version of Tahrir Square. Artists are in the front line with organisations like Arts against the Cuts mobilising. The resistance of artists in the UK is part of a world wide wave of protest against neo-liberal cuts and the destruction of everything that cannot be justified by governments keen to please the business world in terms of profit.