The Arts Minister doesn’t want to be judged on the “quantum” of Government investment, but what of its cultural legacy?

Most schoolchildren could likely tell you how the dinosaurs became extinct: one fine day, with absolutely no warning, a massive asteroid slammed into the Earth at what is now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, turning it from a lush paradise, teeming with life, into a desolate, scorched wasteland. An explosion with the force of 5 million atomic bombs blackened the sky with ash and flame, violent earthquakes ricocheted around the globe and vast tsunamis raced across the oceans, drowning the land and everything on it. In a sudden, unstoppable event, the age of the dinosaurs was snuffed out forever.

This image of an abrupt cataclysm – a vast hunk of space rock blasting its way into our pale blue planet – is, for many, the most familiar concept of extinction. But in reality, the typical model is altogether more insidious. Subtle changes causing a gradual chain-reaction, over far more prolonged periods, gently foster the optimal conditions for death. It is only after the fact that the magnitude of the disaster can be fully understood. This slow, almost unnoticed trudge towards oblivion...

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