Artists’ Union England calls on Arts Council England, to reverse the decision to appoint Elisabeth Murdoch as a member of the ACE National Council. We were dismayed to discover last week that Ms Murdoch, a business woman and heir to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, has secured a place on a public policy making body.
We question the appointment of an under-qualified and non-representative member to the council and urge Arts Council England to consider the significant conflict of interests that we believe played a part in this decision.
As a trade union representing cultural workers, we are particularly troubled by the Murdoch family’s views and actions on employment rights and union busting. We fear that a council member opposed to collective rights at work is a further threat to artists’ livelihood in already difficult circumstances for artists and workers.
The Murdoch family, through its international network of media outlets, has consistently proved to be an antithesis to the values Arts Council England claims to promote, including diversity and equality, fair pay and above all, the distribution of public funding in the interest of the public good. The Murdochs, in contrast, have regularly promoted hate, bigotry and Islamophobia, through their ownership of The Sun, The Times newspaper, Fox News and their many other media outlets. In the interest of private capital, the Murdoch family empire has a shameful record in employing unsavoury tactics to influence public opinion and public policy and we believe this appointment is another attempt to expand its damaging influence.
We therefore ask that you explain the reasons behind this appointment, considering Elisabeth Murdoch’s lack of relevant experience in the sector. We are aware of Murdoch’s significant financial contributions, through the Freedlands Foundation, to the Tate under your leadership and to various organisations led by your wife Teresa Gleadowe and feel it is your duty as Chair of Arts Council England to be transparent about the decision to appoint Murdoch to this influential public position.Furthermore, we demand that Arts Council England makes a public commitment to keep processes behind future appointments open and transparent, to ensure that financial contributions are not a key to participation in decision making on any level and to guarantee that its actions are never beholden to private capital. Yours SincerelyArtists’ Union England Executive CC MP Karen Bradley