Insights Government launches Culture White Paper setting out its strategy to help ensure the arts, culture and heritage are open to all.

The Government’s Culture White Paper is the first comprehensive Government strategy for the sector in more than fifty years and, the Government says, 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 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.  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.

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: the Department for Culture, Media and Sport 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.  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 2016, 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 be set up, which will work with cultural organisations to boost commercial expertise across the cultural sectors. More than £60 million of funding will be made available to help cultural organisations improve resilience.  A total of £30 million resilience funding will also be 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.  The UK will also share its expertise in cultural development and protection with its 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; the first grants are expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

To access the Culture White Paper, click here.