Contributing to the national cultural policy debate

Key principles

Five key principles to guide the design of the new policy and new structures to achieve a more equitable settlement across England quickly and effectively.

  • Subsidiarity – taking decisions on the disposition of public funding at the right level
  • Sustainability and diversity – economic, environmental, social and cultural
  • Intrinsic and instrumental – celebrating these complementary not competing purposes for the public funding of arts and culture
  • Transparency – clear and accountable data on the sources of Lottery income and on visitors to and audience for major publicly funded cultural institutions
  • The distinctiveness of funds derived from the National Lottery – ethically different, distinct from and not to be used as a substitute for Treasury funding

Welcome

The Culture White Paper

Any overall Government Policy for Culture that has been a year in the making deserves serious evaluation. The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee – whose 2014-15 Inquiry asked for this overall policy – would seem to be the right forum for such consideration. GPS Culture set out the benchmarks against which we thought it should be judged in ‘A Policy for the Arts and Culture in England. The Next Steps?’. The Select Committee recently announced its inquiry into ‘Countries of Culture’  and has invited submissions before 22nd April.

Jennie Lee’s White Paper challenged the core assumptions of the status quo, established a framework of policy and structure that lasted for over 30 years and achieved fundamental change for the good in partnership with local government for people, communities, cultural organisations, artists and all those actively engaged with the arts as participants across the country.

The Minister has claimed the mantle of Jennie Lee. He has set his own bar. It is a high one and his White Paper should be judged against it.

GPS Culture April 2016

Changes in local government and its leadership arrangements (particularly the emerging new combined authorities) and the imminent Culture White Paper make this the right moment for GPS Culture to set out two simple propositions for national, regional and local arts policies.

On February 5th 2016 GPS publishes its new report The Next Steps? – a contribution to debate on a new national policy for the arts and culture in England.

It is targeted at

  • local government - principally the leadership of emerging combined authorities
  • cultural organisations, in the arts, museums and libraries, based in their areas
  • everyone interested in contributing to future policy for the arts and culture in England.

Our ambition for this White Paper is that it should achieve both equity in access to opportunities for participation and learning locally and excellence in training, production and presentation for the arts and culture throughout England.


The Culture White Paper faces two principal challenges.

Fundamental change from the present imbalances between the capital and the rest of the country

The power to achieve this change is located in national government and - as the economy comes into balance – the funding required for new activity outside London should be found from taxation just  as it currently is for activity in the capital.

The potential of the arts and culture to play a leading role in supporting and enhancing individual and community wellbeing

Here the resources to achieve change can properly be found from the National Lottery and the power to design programmes and take decisions within them should be located below the national level.

The difference fully devolved Arts Lottery funding could make to the poorest communities in all regions would see many tens of millions of pounds able to be directed, gradually, intelligently and equitably with a clear priority for the poorest communities in the country.

Widening the analysis to all Lottery good causes

In a coda to the main report we suggest the wider applicability of our analysis to English National Lottery distributing bodies. Joint working between the distributors alongside local authorities, their agency partners, communities, citizens and users would help local government with its challenge of addressing individual and community wellbeing and aspiration despite its substantially reduced resources.

We might achieve ‘more for less’, as well as the joined-up mobilisation of sport, arts, heritage, and communities in meeting the needs of citizens.

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