Nick Ahad: You must take us for fools, Mr Hunt, if you won’t talk about the cuts

april Fools’ Day was always fun in our house.

You don’t grow up with a brother two years younger and a couple of gullible (but lovely) younger sisters and not take advantage of April 1st.

We’re a bit old for pranks these days, but last week I was victim to the mother of all gags and my cheeks still flush crimson when I think that I fell for it.

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So there I am in the office, Friday afternoon, and I’m told Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in Leeds and the Yorkshire Post has been given an exclusive interview.

The plan was initially for the YP’s political correspondent to do the interview, but given that this was two days after the Arts Council cuts, it seemed to make sense that the arts correspondent, yours truly, should go along.

I got straight on the phone to some of my key contacts. For days I had been living in the maelstrom of the cuts, talking to organisations and individuals who had either lost funding or seen it increased.

There was a lot of confusion and upset out there. It felt right to give some of those organisations the chance to put their questions to the culture secretary, through me. I’ve never had such rapid responses. Various contacts were emailing questions, then the phone rang.

It was the DCMS, calling to ask what I wanted to interview the culture secretary about.

Errm... the weather? England’s defeat in the cricket world cup?

Oh, and I thought I’d mention the biggest post war shake-up of funding to the arts in Britain. I was told that, sorry, Mr Hunt would only talk about ultra-local television and regional tourism. Come again?

So, two days after the most severe storm had swept through Britain’s cultural landscape, the culture secretary is going to talk to the arts correspondent of the region’s biggest newspaper – and we’re not going to discuss the cuts? We didn’t bother with the interview.

By this time I had a lot of questions from arts organisations and plenty of my own.

I arranged to email them to his office. The answers came back this week.

I’ll spare you the full dull, unsatisfactory details, except to say it was made very clear that none of the answers came from Mr Hunt, but from a DCMS spokesman.

The question of why he wouldn’t speak to me about the cuts was answered with: “The funding decisions last week were made entirely independently of Government. No-one would want to see ministers making judgements about which individual arts organisations merit funding and it is not for them to comment on these decisions.”

When I received the answers on Wednesday I read and re-read them.

Had my siblings colluded with Jeremy Hunt in the greatest April Fool prank in history ? Or does the culture secretary really have nothing to say about last week? Sadly, I think it’s the latter.