Why we need art – Royal Society of the Arts, 30 Nov 2006

Don’t quite know how I came to be at this one – maybe I’m a lecture hag. Well, actually I’m just trying to understand my institution.

Sir Richard Eyre gave this breathtaking 40 minute romp through every argument about why we – Society, human beings – need art. Art is as useless as life itself, he says, and just as we trying to find a purpose in our lives, and imbue that purpose with meaning, we do to art. Nothing new there, and I’d imagine I was one of the least initiated to these arguments (liberally peppered with quotations from Wilde, Ruskin etc). He talked better about the difference between low and high art, as a way of criticising current government funding of The Arts which treats Oasis as on a par with Keats. I liked his Philip Larkin quote (I think) about the world being gummy with fake emotions – you spit them out at night when you clean your teeth, and in the morning you take a fresh load.

Then failed to get into Mildred’s because they don’t book, failed to get into Beatroot because they’re a bunch of disorganised vegetarians who let one person occupy two seats, ate a really bad burrito at Beach Burrito which released a trickle of oil down my arm and met EJ, KT and Matt in a dirty pub – Devonshire Arms – where I had to share a toilet with an old used sanitary towel. We went to the first birthday of the Push bar and saw J’s band play in the tiniest room I have ever seen a band in. I really didn’t enjoy them – Belle and Sebastian but even less energy. Very accomplished though. Left early. First Christmas party tonight.

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