Entertainment & Arts

Government white paper pledges 'culture for everyone'

Children and actors in a play Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Children from 70 areas around the country will be given "unrivalled behind-the-scenes access"

The culture minister has pledged to put arts "at the heart of everyday life" and ensure everyone can access culture, "no matter what their background".

Launching The Culture White Paper, Ed Vaizey said arts and heritage must not be for "just the privileged few".

The paper includes a plan "to inspire" children "from poorer families" by giving access to actors and curators.

A review of museums, Arts Council England (ACE) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will also take place.

The paper, which the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said was "the first strategy for arts and culture in more than 50 years", includes an "expectation" that all publicly-funded arts organisations "should reach out to everyone, regardless of their background".

Responding to the paper, the chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, John Kampfner, said there remained a need to create a "comprehensive strategy that will embed across central and local government the centrality of arts and culture in all areas of British life and its pivotal role in the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy".

The Incorporated Society of Musicians' chief executive Deborah Annetts added that while she was "delighted to see the Government restate its real commitment to the cultural sector", she was concerned about "the absence of a commitment around intellectual property - something that lies at the heart of our profession".

'Vote of confidence'

The four-year Cultural Citizens Programme, which will see children from 70 areas around the country have "new cultural experiences" through "unrivalled behind-the-scenes access", will be piloted by ACE in the North West, North East and West Midlands before being rolled out nationwide.

The paper also includes plans to:

  • Conduct a review of the museums sector, focussing on digital services and storage
  • Launch a Great Place Scheme, bringing together national funders with local councils and universities to make culture "a core part" of local plans
  • Launch a consultation on a scheme to offer all museums and galleries tax relief
  • Open a virtual Commercial Academy for Culture to boost commercial expertise in the sector
  • Create a £30m Cultural Protection Fund to support protection of cultural heritage in overseas conflict zones

The culture minister said the "bold new vision" would "ensure everyone, no matter what their background, can access and enjoy our incredible arts and culture".

He added it could also "help us discover untapped talent that could become Britain's future stars".

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Sir Peter said many of the proposals "complement" Art Council England's existing work

Mr Kampfner said while his organisation agreed publicly-funded arts organisations could "lead the way in diversifying their reach" and "welcomed" new ways of ensuring the "resilience and long-term success of arts", the sector could not thrive alone.

"We believe growth and success will be put on a stronger footing only when linked much more closely to education and to an all-embracing plan for funding," he said.

"We are disappointed this paper does not emphasise the interconnectedness between creative companies and arts organisations, and that it does not make the case more strongly for arts teaching in schools."

ACE chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette said the paper was a "vote of confidence in the arts and cultural sector and the contribution it makes to all our lives".

"It contains a number of proposals that we look forward to helping government deliver, many of which complement [our] existing work to promote diversity and improve access for children and young people."

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said access to "England's rich heritage has never been more important".

"Taking part has a positive effect on the health, wealth and happiness of individuals and communities," he said.

"As a nation, we need to include and involve more people than ever before [and] we are delighted to be part of the effort to do this."

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