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Pain in the Arts

Pain in the Arts
John Tusa

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Over a distinguished career in cultural leadership, management and journalism spanning almost 30 years, John Tusa has amassed a unique experience of the arts world, the political controversies it faces and the battles it continues to fight. His new book is a fearless and passionate defence of the performing and visual arts at a time of increasing 'Pain in the Arts.' Tusa explains how the arts are run and why they are worth speaking up for. He addresses the controversies in the arts that must be resolved today: should they be useful before they are excellent? Can they ever turn their backs on the past if they are to be creative in the present? He offers guidance on how the arts can survive in a downturn and why they should always make the case that they deserve special treatment. He also draws on his five years to date as Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme to discuss the increasingly complex questions- practical, personal, professional- that today's and tomorrow's cultural leaders must face, including the qualities of character needed to succeed and what a revolution in arts leadership might achieve. He also reveals the pitfalls of managerialist language.

The backdrop throughout is John Tusa's personal story of discovery and love of the culture he strives to defend in hard times.

Table of Contents


Part I | Getting Things Done

Chapter 1 Pain in the Arts: Decline or Renewal?
Chapter 2 Surviving the Downturn
Chapter 3 Looking Facts in the Face: The Case for the Arts
Chapter 4 The Dos and Don’ts of Running the Arts
Chapter 5 The Wars of the Words: Language Matters
Chapter 6 Learning on the Job: A Personal Road to Responsibility
Chapter 7 The Leader, the Manager: What’s the Difference?
Chapter 8 What Do You Know? Inside the Mind of a Leader
Chapter 9 An Arts Policy for a Floating Utopia
Chapter 10 Keeping It Simple

Part II | Arguing for the Arts

Chapter 11 The State of the Arts, the Arts and the State
Chapter 12 Music All Around Us
Chapter 13 The Education Debate: Giving the Young the Arts They Deserve
Chapter 14 The Arts: A Special Case for Special Pleading
Chapter 15 The Arts and Civil Society: Firm Friends or Distant Cousins?
Chapter 16 Small Is Significant: Taking Care of the Roots


Author Info

John Tusa is Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme in the arts. His many senior positions in journalism and the arts include Managing Director of BBC World Service and of the Barbican Centre in London (1995-2007). Before moving into arts management, he was an award-winning BBC TV and radio journalist, most notably for BBC's 'Newsnight'. His books include Art Matters and Engaged with the Arts (both I.B. Tauris). John Tusa was knighted in 2003.


'I have always admired John's fearless pursuit of clarity and this book is a dose of smelling salts thrust under the nose of the body cultural. He has a great instinct for coining or spotting the telling phrase that cuts through the fog of obfuscation and self delusion that so often cloaks arts policy. His analysis of the often unconsciously deceptive language used around arts organisations is as amusing as it is timely. He is a champion of the arts who unusually is able to combine a celebratory love of its productions with unflinchingly honest appraisal of its organisations.'
Grayson Perry

'Tusa is not just an impressive advocate for the arts: he also provides a practical guide for arts leadership at a time when good leadership is needed more than ever.'
Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

'Tusa's passion is infectious and his diagnosis of our cultural malaise spot on, with relevance far beyond the sector to which it is primarily addressed. His rallying call comes not a moment too soon. As he puts it, "If the arts don't stand up for the arts, no one else will".'
James Attlee, Independent

'I would like to think that John Tusa's new book... would be mandatory bedtime reading for Sajid Javid... Michael Gove... and every head teacher and local authority leader in Britain... Tusa's book is revelatory…he paints a detailed picture of the flow and (mostly) ebb of cultural subsidy, right up to this government's 30 per cent cuts and the lamentable era of the unlamented Maria Miller.'
Richard Morrison, The Times

'It's essential this book is read by anyone in the arts or passionate about the arts. As the inspirational director of the Clore Leadership Programme he is nurturing the talented young people who will ensure this country continues to have world beating arts and culture. His writing is wise, insightful ... and fun.' 
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC

'The Arts are necessary and important. They have been doing well in the UK but will undoubtedly face some big challenges in the future. Clear thinking and strong leadership will be required. John Tusa, characteristically articulate and provocative, provides a real stimulus for the thinking which is needed.'
Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council

'This is an important book: not only for its page turning personal account of turbulent times, but also in the  insights and challenges offered  – reminding all who work in the arts of the need to be sure of our first principles and to defend them resolutely.'
Alan Davey, Chief Executive, the Arts Council

'A challenging defence of the performing and visual arts in a time of recession.'
The Bookseller

'Simultaneously arts boss and iconoclast, John Tusa is a lifelong scourge of meddling politicians who think the arts are Covent Garden and that targets make good symphonies. His third book on the subject, the fruit of his own years running the Barbican and the Clore Leadership programme, is brilliant on the way artists got to grips with the managerial culture of the Blair years, learnt its good skills and then turned its arid instrumentalism on its head. Esssential reading for any council contemplating scrapping its culture budget.'
Liz Forgan, former Chair, Arts Council England

'[Tusa] has sound and sometimes surprising advice for the arts'
Simon Tait, Stage Magazine

'Essential reading for arts leaders wherever they work, and whatever their organisations’ principal sources of income. The main points Tusa makes are universally applicable.'
Roger Cox, Scotland on Sunday


A 'Pain in the Arts' manifesto for a better future Read

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780768175
Publication Date: 29 May 2014
Number of Pages: 256
Height: 216
Width: 138

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