Press release

Culture at the heart of our communities

Government launches strategy to help ensure the arts, culture and heritage are open to all

Culture White Paper
Culture White Paper
  • The Culture White Paper is the first strategy for arts and culture in more than 50 years

  • Includes new expectation from Government that all publicly-funded arts organisations must increase access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds

  • Thousands of children from poorer families to benefit from new cultural scheme giving them behind-the-scenes access to the arts

  • Great Place scheme will put culture at the centre of local decision-making

  • Reviews of Museums, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund to begin

All arts organisations that receive public money must show they are reaching out and increasing access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help find the stars of tomorrow and open arts and culture up for all, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced today.

The move is part of a groundbreaking Culture White Paper published by the Government today. It is the first comprehensive Government strategy for the sector in more than fifty years and aims to boost access to arts, heritage and culture to help improve social mobility and increase life chances across the country.

The Culture White Paper sets out an expectation for the first time that every Government-funded museum, theatre, gallery, opera house and arts group should reach out to everyone, regardless of their background. Arts Council England will regularly report to Government on the progress being made.

Thousands of children from communities from across the country will also be given unrivalled behind-the-scenes access to the sector via a new Cultural Citizens Programme.

The planned four-year programme will give children from up to 70 areas across the country opportunities to have new cultural experiences, including meeting actors, curators and designers to inspire them to engage with our incredible arts and culture.

Arts Council England will begin a pilot this year in the North West, North East and West Midlands in areas where attendance at cultural events is low. This will then expand to include 14,000 young people across the country.

A new Great Place Scheme will bring national arts and heritage Lottery funders together to make culture a core part of local authority plans and policies. Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England will work with councils, cultural organisations, universities and other stakeholders to increase access to culture locally, support jobs, economic growth, education, health and wellbeing.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

Our arts, heritage and culture should be for all - not just the privileged few. Culture opens doors, improves social mobility and has a huge impact on life chances.

This bold new vision will put culture firmly at the heart of everyday life and ensure that everyone, no matter what their background, can access and enjoy our incredible arts and culture. It can also help us discover untapped talent that could become Britain’s future stars in these vibrant sectors.

Further measures in the Culture White Paper, which was created following consultation with over 230 organisations across England, Government departments and an online forum, include:

Museums review - DCMS will conduct a wide-ranging review into the museums sector that will examine local and regional museums, Government-sponsored museums and the museums infrastructure nationally. This will also focus on museums’ digital services and storage. It is the first DCMS review of the sector in more than ten years and will be completed by summer 2017. Tailored reviews into the Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund will also be carried out.

Museum and galleries tax relief - As announced in the Budget, the Government will launch a formal consultation on a museums and galleries tax relief scheme in the summer. Following this the relief will come into effect from 1 April 2017.

Funding - A new virtual Commercial Academy for Culture will also be set up, which will work with cultural organisations to boost commercial expertise across the cultural sectors. More than £60 million of funding is available to help cultural organisations improve resilience. This is made up of £26 million Arts Council England strategic funding until 2018; £10 million Heritage Lottery Fund grants in 2016/17 for a new round of endowments, and £7 million annual resilient heritage funding. A total of £30 million resilience funding is also available for museums until 2018.

Arts and heritage groups will be able to apply to be part of a pilot exploring how they can benefit from matched crowdfunding and grow this new funding stream.

Cultural Protection Fund - The Government is creating a new £30 million Cultural Protection Fund to support the protection of cultural heritage in global conflict zones overseas. The fund will work across three areas; cultural heritage protection, training and capacity building, and advocacy and education. The fund will also help countries to recover from acts of cultural destruction. We will also share our expertise in cultural development and protection with our partners around the world, particularly those in developing countries and those emerging from conflict. The fund will be managed by the British Council and is expected to be launched in late spring and the first grants are expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England said:

We welcome the publication of the Government’s White Paper – the first for the arts since Jennie Lee’s in 1965. It contains a number of proposals that we look forward to helping Government deliver, many of which complement existing Arts Council work to promote diversity and improve access to arts and culture for children and young people.

Along with last Autumn’s Statement from the Chancellor, this White Paper is a vote of confidence in the arts and cultural sector and the contribution it makes to all our lives.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said:

Access for everyone to England’s rich heritage has never been more important. The links between taking part in cultural life and life-chances are increasingly well-understood and evidenced.

Taking part has a positive effect on the health, wealth and happiness of individuals and communities. As a nation, we need to include and involve more people than ever before. We are delighted to be part of the effort to do this, and are wholly supportive of the way this White Paper promises to open up culture and heritage to enrich people’s lives.

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of HLF, said:

We are delighted that this White Paper fully embraces heritage as an essential part of the Government’s vision for culture, recognising the role it plays supporting jobs, skills and tourism and making our towns, cities and communities better places to live.

We know from experience that culture can make a positive and lasting difference to people’s lives whatever their background and in many cases this is only possible thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players.

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Published 23 March 2016