By Lord Robbins (auth.)
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First, I shall enquire in a general way concerning the relation between the state and contemporary art. Then I shall discuss the special position of museums and galleries in regard to the preservation of the art of the past. Finally, I shall have something to say about the financial problems involved. Throughout these divisions the discussion will be directed specifically to the relation between the state and the visual arts. But much of what I have to say in the first and last sections has relevance to the relation of the state to art and learning in general.
But what cannot be sustained is the contention that there is no form of government which can conceivably be of positive use to the arts. For that has been falsified by the facts at many times and in many places. The argument in reason seems to me to be no less cogent. If we begin with the essential needs of the state, it is difficult to exclude some positive influence in this respect. Public assemblies and administrative offices must be housed, schools and universities need some habitation. Is it really to be argued that all this must be catered for solely in terms of protection from the weather and the provision of proper E 55 POLITICS AND ECONOMICS acoestics?
Doubtless on one level that is how it looks. Much of what I shall have to say this evening will be concerned with the limitation of freedom to secure order and of order to secure freedom. There are a great many special problems that can suitably be posed in this manner. But if, instead of describing particular tasks, we are trying to weigh final objectives, then, I think, this way of putting the problem may be very seriously misleading. For, at least as I conceive things, in the last analysis, freedom and order are not on all fours at all.