Being the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism is one of the most exciting jobs in Government. These sectors contribute so much to our economic and social wellbeing, and representing them is a responsibility I will take very seriously.
Getting out to meet as many people as possible has been a big priority for me in my first full week in the role, to understand more about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
My first day in the role ended with a trip to The Young Vic – one of our leading theatres – where I saw the incredible production Life of Galileo, a great demonstration of British creative talent both on and off the stage.
I have been struck by the commitment of the people I’ve met to improving accessibility, increasing participation and growing the positive impact arts, heritage and tourism has on our communities.
Growing up in Bath and as MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits culture and tourism bring to an area. Hull’s tenure as UK City of Culture 2017 is also a perfect example of this, and I was delighted to see the transformative effect it’s having when I visited the city on Monday.
Get North for 2018
The excitement is also building in Newcastle and Gateshead for the Great Exhibition of the North 2018. This will be one of – if not the – biggest events in England next year and it was great to meet the team and see the wonderful attractions on both sides of the Tyne that will be part of the Exhibition.
I have also met a number of key partners across arts, heritage and tourism in the last few days, including Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England; Sir Laurie Magnus, Chair of Historic England; Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain/VisitEngland and Steve Ridgway, VisitBritain Chairman.
I reiterated the government’s continued support to arts, heritage and tourism and my commitment to working closely with these sectors to enable them to thrive. I want to strengthen the links between these areas, particularly culture and digital. There is a huge opportunity to use these exciting technologies to open up access to new audiences.
It has also been great to meet the leaders of The Tate, Science Museum, National Portrait Gallery and V&A this week. Each of these museums has a distinct ethos, but they are unified in their artistic excellence, leadership and commitment to protecting our national collections.
Arts, heritage, libraries and tourism have such a positive impact on people’s lives and on our country as a whole. These sectors are innovative and are continually finding new ways to grow, and reach new and diverse audiences. I am honoured to represent them.