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Strategy launched to ‘help’ England’s arts, culture and heritage

Words: Laura Edgar

The government has launched a strategy to ensure that the arts, culture and heritage are open to everyone.

The Culture White Paper is the first strategy of its kind for more than 50 years, says the government.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said every government-funded museum, theatre, gallery opera house and arts group that receives public money must show it is increasing access for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help find the “stars of tomorrow and open arts and culture up for all”.

The Culture White Paper also aims to bring national arts and heritage Lottery funders together to work on a new Great Place scheme.

According to the paper, it “will back local communities who want to put culture at the heart of their local vision, supporting jobs, economic growth, education, health and wellbeing”.

The scheme will be piloted in 12 areas, four of which will be in rural areas. “It will support areas where there is a strong local partnership and a commitment to embed culture in the local authority’s plans and policies,” says the paper.

Heritage Action Zones will also be launched in England.

National heritage organisations will advise communities on how they can best use their historic buildings. Historic England will build and improve relationships between local partners to manage change and new developments, explains the report. This would “stimulate the productivity of the historic environment through regeneration and growth”.

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.”

He said the paper “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.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive, 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.”

The Culture White Paper can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | Carlos Delgado