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Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity

Book relating to a publication, 2010
Published by: Third Text
Year published: 2010
Number of pages: 152
ISBN: 978-0-947753-11-5

image of Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity

This was in many respects a curious publication. Extensively illustrated with key works by leading British artists of African, Asian and Caribbean backgrounds, the volume consisted of a series of substantial texts by the likes of Rasheed Araeen, Jean Fisher, and Leon Wainwright. The texts were though, framed within the context of debates around ‘cultural diversity’. Rather than providing, as claimed, “a definitive critique of cultural diversity” the publication in effect underlines and emphasises the extent to which so many Black artists were trapped within the hegemonic construct of ‘cultural diversity’. As such, the publication takes its place in a long line of ‘cultural diversity’ documents produced by the Arts Council, over a period of several decades. Rather than confidently looking “ahead to an inclusive history of modern British art”, Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity perhaps emphasises Black artists’ ongoing struggles to achieve said inclusion. Araeen had in previous decades been a formidable critic of ‘ethnic arts’, the forerunner of cultural diversity. The journal he founded, Third Text, had distinguished itself as challenging the constraining ways in which ‘ethnic arts’ operated. But this publication, issued under the umbrella of Third Text, saw a perhaps unlikely unification between the Arts Council, Third Text, Rasheed Araeen, and the hegemony of ‘cultural diversity’. Rather than charting a definitive course, the publication fell some way short of critiques of cultural diversity such as Richard Hylton’s ‘The Nature of the Beast’. A number of the texts seek to tread a fine line between critiquing ‘cultural diversity’, and by default, promoting it.

Though the texts are confused, and indeed the publication itself is confusing, Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity, offers insights and recollections about the emergence and presence of Black artists in Britain. (Surprisingly, Araeen, in one of his texts, claims that Keith Piper was “born in Britain”, though Piper was in fact born in Malta.)

Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity. A Third Text Report compiled and edited by Richard Appagnanesi. From the back cover of the publication: “Cultural diversity has been criticised for failing to deliver on the promise of a truly cohesive British society. This Third Text Report investigates official arts and culture policy concerning diversity over the last thirty years or more. The skills and experiences of the contributors to the Report in their fields of practice have equipped them to address the relevant contemporary issues of art history, art education, community programming, state and institutional arts policy and management, with a view to going beyond cultural diversity and making their case for the renewal of creativity in Britain today. The Report, commissioned by Arts Council England, provides a definitive critique of cultural diversity and looks ahead to an inclusive history of modern British art. The time has come for a long overdue shift away from mainstream Eurocentricity towards a creative case for diversity that acknowledges hitherto neglected and marginalised contributions to the development of contemporary arts practice. The Report argues that a break with official policies of cultural diversity does not mean a return to ‘business as usual’ for the arts establishment but a deeper understanding of the intrinsic value of diversity in the arts.

Contributors: Richard Appignanesi, Rasheed Araeen, Andrew Dewdney, David Dibosa, Jean Fisher, Hassan Mahamadallie, Roshi Naidoo, Tony Panayiotou, Leon Wainwright and Victoria Walsh.”

Contents as follows:

Tony Panayiotou, Preface

Introducing the Creative Case

Richard Appignanesi, Introduction: ‘Whose Culture?’ Exposing the Myth of Cultural Diversity

Rasheed Araeen, Cultural Diversity, Creativity and Modernism

The Missing History in Cultural Diversity

Rasheed Araeen, Ethnic Minorities, Multiculturalism and Celebration of the Postcolonial Other

Jean Fisher, Cultural Diversity and Institutional Policy

Towards an Inclusive British Community

Roshi Naidoo, Diversity after Diversity

Andrew Dewdney, David Dibosa and Victoria Walsh, Cultural Inequality, Multicultural Nationalism and Global Diversity: Tate Encounters: Britishness and Visual Culture

Leon Wainwright, Art (School) Education and Art History

Hassan Mahamdallie, Breaking the Code: New Approaches to Diversity and Equality in the Arts

Richard Appignanesi, Conclusion: What is to be Done?



Further Reading

The cover design was by Richard Dyer, and the photograph was by Adrian Clark. It appeared to show a Union flag, rendered in alternative colours.

Related people + view all 10

»  Rasheed Araeen

Born, 1935 in Karachi, Pakistan

»  Jean Fisher

Born, 1962 in USA