Brian Eno says that arts and culture offered a safe place to experience extreme feelings and that they act as a “simulator” in people’s lives.
The musician calls for a rethink about the role and value of culture. “We have a complete confusion around the subject,” says the artist. If 20 scientists were asked to define science, they would mostly agree. However, if 20 artists were asked about what art is, there would be 15 different answers. Eno gives one definition: “Art is everything that you don’t have to do.”
A pioneer of ambient music, Eno said that we lived in a culture that is changing incredibly quickly. He said that a month in the present day saw about the same amount of change as the whole of the 14th century. That is the reason why Eno believes that it is important to “stay in sync, of remaining coherent”. He adds: “And I think that this is what culture is doing for us.” He said he saw culture as a “set of collective rituals” that everyone was engaged with.
Eno said that he heard the education secretary Nicky Morgan claim that it was a good idea for students not to go into arts and humanities because they did not offer prospects as good as the “Stem” subjects.
“It stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics – all things that I am very sympathetic to and interested in,” adding, “So the idea is that those things are important. They’re part of the economic mill, and they’re part of what makes Britain great and increases our GNP and what have you.”
“And the arts, on the other hand, are sort of nice; they’re a bit of a luxury actually, something you might do when you’re relaxing after you come home from a hard day’s work at a proper job.”
Eno thinks that the attitude is part of this new idea of the arts as a kind of economic entity. And calls for a rethink about the issue.