Cultural White Paper and Countries of Culture Inquiry

The DCMS has published the long awaited Culture White Paper, the first strategy for arts and culture in more than 50 years. 

DCMS has also launched an inquiry into funding for culture in England’s regions and sub-regions.  The Countries of Culture inquiry will focus on the regional impact of local authority settlement on the cultural sector; new funding models for culture and use of lottery funding; cultural partnerships; skills, management and infrastructure; accessibility and engagement; and the value and impact of culture in the regions.

Culture White Paper

The Culture White Paper’s main focus is on access and place-making, and makes explicit an expectation that “all publicly-funded arts organisations must increase access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds”.  There’s no new cash in the White Paper, aside from the investments that are Treasury initiatives already announced such as the Great Exhibition of the North, City of Cultureand  £20m for cathedrals.  Other headlines include:

  • A four-year Cultural Citizens Programme, designed to give children from across the country opportunities to have cultural experiences.  This will be piloted in the North West, North East and West Midlands.
  • The government will work with ACE to develop new indicators to accurately examine changes in engagement and participation for children from low income backgrounds, by demographics as well as region.
  • A “wide-ranging” review of museums that will explore three areas: the national infrastructure for museums in England and how it relates to those in the devolved nations; how DCMS-sponsored museums could work better together and with other museums; and the roles of ACE and HLF in supporting local and regional museums.
  • The new ‘Great Place’ scheme that will push for culture to be made “a core part of local authority plans and policies” by helping communities develop a ‘cultural vision’.  Councils and owners of empty business premises will also be encouraged to make these available to cultural organisations on a temporary basis.

The white paper is the result of an extensive consultation involving round tables with 232 organisations. The Government also received 63 written submissions (including one from cCLOA) and 87 posts to an online discussion forum.

You can download the Cultural White Paper here and you can read a transcript of the launch speech given by Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, here.

Countries of Culture Inquiry

The select committee’s last inquiry in 2014, into the work of Arts Council England, found that there is an imbalance in arts funding in favour of London at the expense of other parts of the country. This year’s inquiry aims to build on that report and look beyond the work of ACE.

cCLOA Vice Chair, Polly Hamilton co-ordinated a response on behalf of the association pdfcCLOA_response_to_Countries_of_Culture.pdf  and was subsequently invited to give evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee based on our submission around the following areas:

  • Impact of cuts on reducing access particularly in rural areas and areas of socio/economic disadvantage.
  • Cultural tourism.
  • Local government as community/cultural leaders and our role as brokers. 
  • Challenges of partnership with private sector and realities of business support outside core cities.
  • The value of cultural education beyond talent development for creative industries (civic/democratic engagement, volunteering etc).
  • That investment in culture saves £ in other more costly public service areas such as health and social care.

You can watch the evidence session here @Parliamentlivetv.