This presentation, given to an audience of creative industry specialists in London, argues for a visionary approach to anti-recession public spending that comprehends the full extent of what they will need to do. With governments worldwide embarking on programmes of public spending, the occasion exists to update some thinking about what to spend it on.
The New Deal and the Welfare State, it argues, brought about a ‘civilisational change’, equipping entire populations with enhanced mental and cultural capacities which not only brought about a massive increase in their productive potential, but created an entirely new patterns of demand. This corresponds to Keynes’s visions for investment in the arts and culture based on the principle that ‘what we can create, we can afford’.
Modern evaluation and measurement techniques have equipped us – if we are prepared to use them – to take proper economic account of such civilisational gains, so that investment in ‘human capital’ in its widest sense can be given its due place in evaluating the role of the state in the economy in the 21st Century.