Artist Bob and Roberta Smith Runs for Parliament to Save Culture


Bob and Roberta Smith's caper van campaign placard Photo: The Independent

Bob and Roberta Smith’s caper van campaign placard
Photo: The Independent

In 2012, former British Education Secretary Michael Gove proposed to drop arts as a core subject from the British GCSE program (exams taken by all British 16 year olds), in an effort to refresh the educational system.

The move angered the British arts community, prompting several prominent figures such as Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and architect Richard Rogers to speak out against the proposed reform.

Although Gove left his post in July following a cabinet reshuffle, when his successor Nicky Morgan suggested that students studying arts subjects could be held back, artist Bob and Roberta Smith, the pseudonym of Patrick Brill, decided to run for Parliament against Gove at the next general election.

Brill explained that he viewed Gove as the “architect” of the current government’s anti-arts policy. He told the Independent“what she [Morgan] said has got everybody fired up again. I thought: ‘I’ve got to stand’.”

The artist acknowledged that he is unlikely to be elected given that Gove easily retained his seat during the last election with a 57 percent majority, nearly double his nearest rival. However, Brill maintained that “the point is to raise the issue of the importance of the arts.”

He has already started campaigning, buying a camper van which he has painted in his signature placard style, to raise awareness about the importance of the arts as part of a balanced education.

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