Sunday, 18 May 2008

Boris's "Director of Policy, Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries"

Munira Mirza is London's new Director of Policy, Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries.

Two points to make - firstly, I have no idea what this means for cultural policy in London. Mirza certainly hasn't done much and hasn't run anything. She's on secondment to the Tate as part of the Cultural Leadership programme - hardly a track record of high level strategy or delivery. But she's got some odd friends, which helps her kick up a stink and get noticed.

So, what does this mean for cultural policy in London? Haven't a clue, but from a position of ignorance let me suggest that Mirza will make the occasional trite statement, write the occasional policy paper and take home a nice salary, while the real powers behind Boris's throne continue the process started by Ken of hoovering up power and occasionally institutions.

Finally, I'd raise the issue of cronyism. Ken's was distasteful and I suspect Boris will be better. He's appointed councillors to the big jobs so at least they have some legitimacy. But it's still not good enough. The boundary between political adviser and officer is too fluid. Is Mirza an adviser to the Mayor or will she have some say over the budget for the Museum of London?

It was issues such as these, arising from the peculiar structures of the Mayor and GLA, that led to some of the problems around Lee Jasper, which Boris and the Standard exploited to the full.

They will have to be very careful not to be hoisted by their own petard.


Andrew Brown said...

It's not an impartial source, but there's a suggestion that the appointment of councillors is actually problematic.

William Canynge said...

The whole 'mayoral adviser' experiment seemed to be a failure with Ken, and I'm surprised the recent London government act did nothing about it. It means we're stuck with this system, which would work if this were an entirely strategic role, but is increasingly an operational one too.

Andrew Brown said...

I'd agree it's the weakest part of the system. Far too open to abuse and cronyism.