The UK Parliament and Government have policy responsibility for all cultural issues in England and for some issues, such as broadcasting, across the whole of the United Kingdom. However, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, most cultural issues are now the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament and Executive, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive respectively (“the devolved administrations”). It should be noted that while the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly are able to make primary legislation in respect of those issues which have been devolved, the National Assembly for Wales is only able to make secondary legislation; responsibility for primary legislation for Wales remains with the UK Parliament and Government.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is responsible for government policy on the arts, sport, the National Lottery, tourism, libraries, national museums and galleries in England, broadcasting, creative industries including film, the music industry, fashion, design, advertising and the arts market, as well as digital issues, press freedom and regulation, licensing, gambling and the historic environment. DCMS also has overall responsibility for the listing of historic buildings and scheduling of ancient monuments, the export licensing of cultural goods, the management of the Government Art Collection and the Royal Parks Agency. The UK Parliament and Government retain both legislative and policy responsibility for the whole of the UK in the following areas: acceptance in lieu of tax (e.g. the acquisition of works of art and heritage for the nation instead of payment of death duties); broadcasting; export controls on cultural objects; government indemnity scheme (i.e. insurance for cultural objects on loan); legislative responsibility for the national lottery (but responsibility for policy directions is shared with the devolved administrations); public lending right (except for Northern Ireland). DCMS also retains legislative and policy responsibility for film and for alcohol and public entertainment licensing in Wales. Responsibility for gambling law and regulation is shared between the UK Parliament and the devolved administrations. All other subject areas are the responsibility of the devolved administrations.
Much of the work for which DCMS is ultimately responsible is undertaken by public bodies (Non-Departmental Public Bodies or NDPBs) which generally operate at arm’s length from government.
There is a separate Parliamentary Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the DCMS and its associated public bodies. In recent years a number of All-Party Parliamentary Committees have been set up to look at issues in specific cultural areas, e.g. on music and on theatre. The Welsh Government also has a committee with responsibility for Culture, Welsh Language and Communication.
As this reference was being finalized rumours were circulating that DCMS could be re-organised or downsized by the new Government
Department for Education (DfE)
The DfE has overall responsibility for education and further education policy, apprenticeships and other skills in England. This includes responsibility for the national curriculum for art and design and guidance for music hubs to ensure pupils have access to music education (see chapter 5.2.). It works closely with local authorities who are the providers of state education at local level.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Department was established following the merger of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Energy and Climate Change. It has established sector-based deals including with the creative industries sector (see chapter 3.5.1.).
Department for International Trade (DIT)
The DIT promotes British trade and investment globally, which is even more important in the context of Brexit. Any trade missions involving culture would be co-ordinated by the DIT. It also part funds the British Film Commission through UK Trade and Investment
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
In its role as the chief instrument for foreign affairs, the FCO sponsors the British Council, an executive NDPB responsible for promoting cultural and educational programmes to build cultural relations with the peoples of other countries (see chapter 1.4.1.). The BBC World Service is a public corporation of the FCO that promotes new reports and analyses in English and 27 other languages. The FCO oversees the Chevening Scholarship Programme, which awards scholarships to support overseas students to study at UK universities.
Ministry of Defence (MOD)
The MOD has relationships with six military museums, some of which are classified as executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) sponsored by the Ministry.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
The MHCLG is the ministry responsible for relationships with local authorities. It also has responsibility for architecture including the Architects Registration Board, which regulates the architects’ profession.
Arts Council England
Arts Council England (ACE) is the national agency responsible for supporting the arts, museums and libraries in England with government and National Lottery funds. It was established in 1994 to replace the Arts Council of Great Britain. It operates under a Royal Charter (as amended in 2008 and 2011) with a mission to: develop and improve the knowledge, understanding and practice of the arts; increase accessibility of the arts; advance the education and further the establishment, maintenance and operation of museums and libraries. It is also obliged to advise and co-operate with government, local authorities and others.
Historically, the UK system of support for culture has been regarded as the archetypal “arm’s length” model, with successive governments choosing the Arts Council and other NDPBs as the instruments which administer the disbursement of government funds for culture and determine who the beneficiaries will be. Arguably, the arm’s length principle is essentially a “convention” between government and the various cultural agencies, and the terms of these relationships are set down in management standards agreed with DCMS. Certainly, the nature of the relationship between central government and ACE has been tested over the years, with Government being seen as more interventionist on issues such as indicating broad policy directions or requiring cost savings and the structural reform of the Council and other NDPBs.
ACE provides financial support in the areas of music, drama, dance, literature, visual arts, photography, crafts, carnival, circus and digital. Despite its name, ACE also supports museums (except national museums funded directly by DCMS) and libraries as a result of the closing by the government of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in 2011. In relation to museums, ACE provides standards, funding and advocacy. The period from 1990 until 2013 was a period of frequent structural change in the arts and museums sectors, usually because of the need to reduce administrative costs prompted by government. In the early 2000s, for example, the Arts Council and separate regional arts boards were merged into a single organisation.
In 2012 a Review of the Governance of Arts Council England by David Norgrove led to further changes, in this case a 50% reduction in administration costs as a result of the planned cuts to the Council’s grant from government of 29.6% over the period 2012-2015 and the acquisition of responsibility for the museums and libraries. This resulted in further staff reductions.
ACE’s 10-year strategic framework from 2010 (revised in 2013 as Great Arts and Culture for Everyone) identified five goals for arts, museums and libraries to ensure: excellence is thriving and celebrated; everyone has the opportunity to experience and be inspired by them; they are resilient and environmentally sustainable; their leadership and workforce is diverse and skilled; and every child/young person has the opportunity to experience them. In 2018/19 68% of ACE’s income came from government grant-in-aid (mostly fromDCMS, but also some from DfE in respect of music and cultural education) and 31% came from the National Lottery. The majority of ACE’s support for 2018-2022 will go to 829 National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), who will receive a total of GB£ 338 million annually plus a further GB£ 71.3 million from the National Lottery for touring and work with children and young people. The funding agreements with the NPOs have been extended from three years to four. In addition, Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants support thousands of artists, community and cultural organisations and has a budget for 2019/20 of GB£ 97.2 million.
British Film Institute
The British Film Institute is the lead organisation for film in the UK. It is responsible for the National Film Archive and Reuben Library (which has the largest collection of material about film, TV and the moving image in the world) and runs the National Film Theatre, BFI IMAX Cinema and London Film Festival. It took over a number of responsibilities of the UK Film Council when the latter was abolished and now awards National Lottery Funding to support film production, distribution, education, audience development, market intelligence and research. BFI2022 is the Institute’s five-year strategic plan that builds on its previous strategy, Film Forever, and follows UK-wide consultation. It focusses on the development of future talent, education and skills and audiences (see chapter 3.5.3).
The Crafts Council was established in 1971 as the Crafts Advisory Committee to advise government on the needs of artist-craftsmen and to promote nationwide interest and improvement in their products. Subsequently, it was renamed the Crafts Council and was granted a Royal Charter in 1982 to advance and encourage the creation and conservation of works of fine craftsmanship and to promote public interest in the work of craftsmen (see 3.4). It is now funded by ACE.
DCMS supports and works with a number of other agencies (some of which are referred to elsewhere, especially in chapter 3). Briefly, these are:
Royal Parks an executive agency responsible for managing and preserving over 5,000 acres of historic parkland across London.
BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a public corporation whose main responsibility is to provide impartial public service broadcasting.
Channel 4 is also a public service broadcaster and public corporation, that works across television, film and digital media.
Historic Royal Palaces is a public corporation that manages Britain’s unoccupied royal palaces.
Advisory non-departmental public bodies
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest advises the government on the export of cultural property.
The Theatres Trust is the national advisory body for theatre, promoting the value and maintenance of theatre buildings.
The Treasure Valuation Committee comprises independent experts to establish the likely market value of each treasure find.
Executive non-departmental public bodies
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is the world’s largest museum of decorative art and design. Based in London it has a new museum in Dundee.
The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media, and consists of: the Science Museum, Museum of Science and Industry, National Railway Museum (York), National Media Museum and National Railway Museum (Shildon).
The Tate holds the national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art and has a network of four museums: Tate Britain (London), Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Modern (London).
The Royal Museums Greenwich comprises the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Queen’s House.
The Natural History Museum comprises some seven million items.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund uses money raised by the National Lottery to help people across the UK to explore, enjoy and protect the heritage.
Historic Englandis the government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment.
Visit England and Visit Britain are respectively the National Tourist Board for England, which plans national tourism strategy, and the national tourism agency responsible for marketing Britain worldwide and developing Britain’s visitor economy.
UK Sport (UKSP) and Sport England (SE): UKSP supports Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes, co-ordinating bids for and staging of major international sporting events in the UK, while SE encourages people to take up sport and also protects existing sports provision.
The British Library has one of the world’s biggest library collections.
The British Museum was the first national public museum in the world and its permanent collection is amongst the largest and most comprehensive in existence.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a NDPB funded by government, and funds independent research in a wide range of sectors including the creative and performing arts, design, digital content and heritage.
The National Assembly for Wales has devolved responsibilities in Wales for culture and related issues. Since 1999 a number of public agencies, e.g. the Arts Council of Wales and Sports Council for Wales have been funded by, and accountable to, the Assembly. Within the Welsh Government cultural policy is a particular focus of the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism and the Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language. Other ministers will also have an interest, e.g. the Minister for Educatio. The principal agency for arts support is the Arts Council of Wales (ACW). While respecting the independence of the ACW when it comes to decisions concerning how the arts are funded, in common with other Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies ACW is expected to reflect the Government’s priorities and its aims. Arguably, the relationship between ACW and the Welsh Government is a little closer than that of ACE to the UK Government. Compared to the experience in England, reductions in government funding for culture in Wales have been less severe. ACWwas established by Royal Charter in 1994 to support and develop the arts in Wales. This followed almost 50 years as the Welsh Arts Council, which was legally part of the Arts Council of Great Britain though mostly operationally independent from it. Priorities in ACW’s Corporate Plan for 2018-2023 are: developing the capability and potential of those working in the arts in Wales; building diversity, equality and inclusion through encouraging a greater number and wider range of people to enjoy and participate in the arts; and supporting a dynamic and resilient arts sector. The Council also has a role in ensuring the arts contribute to priorities of the Welsh Government agenda, including stimulating jobs and skills, assisting with the implementation of the Government’s Culture and Poverty Report and helping to fulfil the seven goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 that seeks to improve the social, environment and cultural wellbeing of Wales in accordance with sustainable development. Indeed, ACW has a statutory duty to embed sustainable development into its organisation (see also chapter 2.7). ACW’s grant-in-aid from the Welsh Government is GB£ 31.7 million in 2019/20, much of which is allocated to 67 revenue-funded organisations that comprise its Arts Portfolio.
The Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment division (CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments) is responsible for the built heritage. The Design Commission for Wales promotes sustainable development by providing bespoke training to councillors, planners etc., championing best practice and acting as a non-statutory consultee within the urban planning process. CyMAL: Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales was established as a policy division of the Welsh Government from April 2004 to develop strategic direction for local museums, archives and libraries and provide financial support and advice. In 2007, CyMAL took over the sponsorship role for the National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales.