Prologue What happens when politics become policies, which, in turn, become practices in a museum? Such a question was posed at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in November 2010, in a debate organised by Third Text and Arts Council England, one of a number that have taken place in the aftermath of the defeat of the New Labour government in Britain. Indeed, over the past two years, issues surrounding cultural politics and their relationship to institutional practices have been articulated as a contestation of the effectiveness of cultural diversity policy in the arts. In such a contest, one can point to the gains that have been accrued through the translation of progressivist thinking into cultural equity programmes and social justice agendas. Legitimate claims, for example, can be made that advances in employment and programming have taken place. On the other hand, one can point to institutional manoeuvres – containment strategies – that have ensured that demands for change are neutralised in order to protect the integrity of long-held views around ‘core mission’ and objects bearing ‘real cultural value’. Such a framing of the ongoing argument may be a little stark for everyday tastes but politics, after all, is a messy business. The following account hopes to make some sense of the entangled positions, the disrupted careers, the frustrated hopes and broken visions of professional stakeholders seeking change by highlighting what has been lost as well as gained in the slippage from politics to policy and practice.