The government’s culture department has undertaken a significant shake-up, with Jeremy Hunt, the head of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), being replaced by former disability minister Maria Miller. Hunt becomes health minister.
Miller, the MP for Basingstoke, has no previous experience of working with the visual arts sector and it will be interesting to see how she evaluates the relationship between the DCMS and Arts Council England. She recently faced criticism for her opinions on unemployment, claiming there was “no shortage of jobs”, just a “lack of appetite” for the jobs on offer. Will she approach employment within the arts with the same attitude?
Speaking to the Guardian, Miller said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the culture secretary by the prime minister and am very much looking forward to tackling the many challenges that the role will bring.”
Arts professionals responded to the shake-up on Twitter:
@theatrekind “After extensive google search, can find nothing to suggest Miller has any interest in arts whatsoever…”
@FiShoop “I was hoping it would be Hugh Robertson who would have been a perfect fit for the job and deserves it.”
@elenelsecchio “Government shuffles always annoy me – how you need no knowledge (or interest?) in a sector to affect lots of people’s lives.”
@Wintersonworld “Maria Miller is now Culture Secretary. An economist who worked in marketing for Texaco. This Govt has nothing but contempt for the arts.”
So, in what state does this leave the DCMS? Although insiders continue to dismiss rumours that the department could be broken up, the signs are not positive. At a time when the visual arts is seeking some level of stability, more disruption appears to be on the horizon.
Join the conversation on Twitter using the tag #reshuffle