Policy developments that establish sets of justifications and rationales that have nothing to do with the cultural content of the policy concerned, but which arise from a deliberate realignment of policy frameworks, establish a form of hyperinstrumentalism. With hyperinstrumentalism the focus on outcomes and the ends of policy means that cultural policy is only as important as the ends to which it is directed. As such, hyperinstrumentalisation demonstrates the consequences for the sector of conditions where claims about the value of culture are irrelevant to political actors. The paper questions whether sense can be made of this shift as a coherent and strategic political choice, rather than as a simple assault on culture. The case of Northern Ireland’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is used to illustrate this. The authors question whether hyperinstrumentalism undermines the justification for an autonomous domain of cultural policy.