In conversation with British and American political and cultural scholars, a group of accomplished young professionals explored the vital connection between culture and politics and its impact in shaping prosperous societies at a Legatum Institute roundtable in Washington, DC. The discussion focused on culture as being central to society, that government is indeed a component of culture - and that in recent years, particularly following the rise of global extremism, “culture and politics have become organic.”

When thinking of the role of art for the public good, there certainly is a role for government in promoting culture, yet participants agreed that it is important to maintain the independence of the arts in order to provide space for dialogue and creative expression. In conclusion, the group discussed the value of culture in policymaking, free thinking and development, and the importance of taking a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach in understanding the modern world.

Panelists included James Leach, former Congressman and Chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities; Paul Smith, Director of the British Council; Dorothy Kosinski, Director of the Philips Collection; David Walsh, Professor at Catholic University; and Hywel Williams, Senior Adviser at the Legatum Institute. The roundtable was moderated by Joseph Wood, Professor at the Institute of World Politics.

Following the discussion, the group attended a rehearsal for the world premiere of John Tavener’s Three Hymns of George Herbert, a work commissioned by the Legatum Institute as part of our “Promise of Freedom" series, which explores the vital role liberty has played in British and American cultural and social thought.