Imagine, if you will, the publication, with significant support from public funds, of a lavish monograph about a major British artist. The volume is lively, intelligent and, most likely, will be a definitive statement about the artist for the next decade and more. The cost of, let’s say, one hundred thousand pounds of our money is regarded by publishers and readers alike as money well-spent. But now let’s suppose that this book is only available for four weeks. For historical reasons, it disappears after a month into a vault, only to appear fleetingly at moments that no-one can predict. Otherwise it exists solely in samizdat copies passed surreptitiously from one interested party to the next. Nonsensical, no? Yet that is the state of affairs with most arts documentaries (and other programmes) for most people most of the time. And recent accomplished films from Waldemar Januszczak (above) and Andrew Graham-Dixon demonstrate just how daft the current system is.
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