Jeanette Winterson has said that as a society "we've got our values all wrong" as she warned against further cuts to the arts ahead of the Chancellor’s autumn statement on 25th November.
In a keynote speech delivered at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards for Artists 2015 ceremony last night (Thursday 12th November) Winterson highlighted the value of arts in society and paid tribute to publisher and philanthropist, Paul Hamlyn, formerly of the Octopus Publishing Group.
"Everybody needs a decent place to live, an education that inspires their mind, work that is either interesting or at least a means to an end without having to be a zero hours non-union bullshit job," she said. "Some safety, some security, yet, all over the world those ordinary things don’t happen or are becoming scarce—and the planet goes on paying the price of our bad management and lack of vision. I look around and I see arts funding cut everywhere—and I am sure there will be more bad news in the Chancellor’s autumn statement on 25 November. At every point, arts leaders are asked to make the economic case for the arts—a case that is easy to make because the numbers add up—but we are more hesitant when it comes to talking about the centrality of art in everyone’s lives—which is really about a re-alignment of values."
She added: “Paul Hamlyn understood that. He gave his money to support the invisible world that needs to be made visible every day. And at a time when migrants are being vilified in the press, and when this government and their right-wing press are pretending that immigration is the reason for every possible problem in the UK. When UKIP polled a share of the vote entirely on the back of Fortress Britain, let’s remember that Paul Hamlyn, the German Jew, came to Britain, built a business, and he is why we are here tonight."
“Honour his legacy by doing what he wanted you to do—make things, create things, be bold in your vision," Winterson said. “And if you make any money—give some back.”
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation was established by Paul Hamlyn in 1987. The Award for Artists awards eight artists with £50,000 prize money over three years.