It’s 50 years since Jennie Lee, the first Minister for the Arts, published the first White Paper on the arts. In it, she talked about the “drabness and joylessness of the social furniture” and the important role of the “living artist” in addressing that.
We’ve come a long way since then. Government’s role in supporting the arts and culture has grown and changed; responsibility for the arts, museums, libraries and heritage has been brought together in one Department; the National Lottery has transformed funding opportunities for the cultural sectors; and free access has helped open up our national museums to new audiences.
But the Government hasn’t taken an overview of the cultural sectors and the Government’s role in supporting them, and published an overall vision and agenda for the future, since Jennie Lee’s White Paper. It’s time we did.
Four broad themes
Our White Paper, that’s due to launch in the coming months, will explore four key themes:
The first of these is the role that culture plays in creating places that people want to live, work and visit. How can our culture and heritage contribute to vibrant, healthy communities across the country, and how can we in Government support them to do that.
The second theme will focus on building financial resilience in cultural organisations and institutions through new funding models, to enable them to survive and prosper in a tough economic and financial climate.
Our third theme is about people and how they engage with culture. How do we ensure that everyone can learn about and through culture, and get the right encouragement and opportunities to experience and participate in cultural activities throughout their lives.
And finally, theme four explores working with our cultural institutions to promote Britain abroad, in our relations with other countries and international organisations, and to support trade, exports, inward investment, inbound tourism and presentation of cultural artefacts.
Share your ideas
To support the upcoming White Paper, starting next week we’ll be launching a dedicated #OurCulture discussion platform, looking at each theme in turn over the coming months, to give you the chance to submit and discuss your ideas across each of the four topics. We’re seeking innovative proposals to drive discussion and I’m looking forward to seeing lots of lively debate that underlines our passion for the cultural sectors, and how we need to ensure they continue to adapt and thrive for future generations.
You can also join the conversation on your own social media channels, using the #OurCulture hashtag.