Dr Adams and Peter Finch, poet and Chief Executive of Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society of Writers, were asked to comment on some controversial statements made by Jonathan Mills, the director of the Edinburgh International Festival. Mills had been quoted in an article in the Times, claiming that coherent ideas and intellectual rigour had lost their value for much of society, to be replaced with a consumer emphasis on simplification and entertainment for its own sake. Mills argued that the trivialisation of British life had left millions of people subsisting on a cultural diet of “white bread without the crusts”.
Dr Adams and Peter Finch agreed that there was little conclusive evidence to support this, not least because many people are still engaging with challenging culture, and also because the notion of cultural decline is rooted in the idea of a ‘golden age’, when the majority of the population were consumers of ‘highbrow’ culture, which arguably has never been the case. However, they also agreed that this was a debate worth having, and that Jonathan Mills had secured himself some useful publicity for his event.