This introductory chapter provides an overview of the changes in British cultural policy in the years following the election in 1979 of a Conservative government, which aimed to curtail the regular allocation of public money which had been decided after the end of the Second World War. It charts the various decisions taken at the end of the twentieth century to fund art differently, and the ideological approaches to art which underlay these policies. Whether aiming at disengagement through cuts, or at support motivated principally by utilitarian designs, the different governments in power since the 1980s have all encouraged the hybridisation of art funding by involving both public and private backers. This new mixed approach to the economy of art – perhaps even more consensual than the post-war period it is supposed to have ended – has come to be defined as a specifically British compromise between the American and the Continental models. What interests us here is to present this period as the backdrop against which independent commissioning agency Artangel emerged to respond to these new political and economic conditions.