Most people who work in the cultural sector — artists, administrators, promoters and entrepreneurs — see policy documents as the place where creativity goes to die. Prospective readers are scared off by the language and the length; the introductory statements (never mind the numbered subsections that follow) seem already to reek of bureaucracy and legal or procedural technicalities.

Yet such policies shape the arts landscape, directly influencing the conditions under which artists work. Their ideological framing is either explicitly or implicitly presented. They inform budgetary allocation. They can create, dismantle or reconfigure cultural institutions. Engaging with them helps the reader to identify potential opportunities and constraints. And they can be used to hold the powerful to account.

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