2. Current cultural affairs
Last update: March, 2020
Chief among the lexicon of key words employed in cultural policy in England and to a considerable extent in Wales in recent years have been: resilience, sustainability, social impact, placemaking, wellbeing, value, regional disparities in funding and cultural diversity. Austerity has provided a context for the emphasis on some of these, while the latter two reflect continuing pressure for policy initiatives and action to address long-standing concerns.
Following the election of the Coalition Government in 2010, it soon became clear that the cultural sector was not to escape unscathed from serious reductions in public expenditure. By the end of the Government’s term in office in 2015, funding for the arts and culture distributed through the then Department of Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England had diminished by around 30% since a peak in 2008. Meanwhile reductions in central government grants to local government over the period resulted in local authorities making significant cuts to arts, museums and library budgets.
Resilience and sustainability have become conditions of funding by Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales of regularly supported organisations. In the face of the economic difficulties perhaps the resilience of many cultural organisations has been surprising and demonstrates that many have worked hard to develop other funding streams. This has taken place at a time when business support has declined and the agency Arts & Business, which used to encourage sponsorship, no longer exists. In these circumstances (some would argue because of them) it is praiseworthy how much imagination, innovation and enterprise has been shown by many cultural organisations. What has become evident is that the National Lottery, originally conceived as an addition to state funding of culture, has been increasingly used to support not only projects and initiatives that would otherwise not have happened, but also aspects of the work of organisations regularly funded by Arts Councils. This confirms a policy shift evident for some years. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the continuing uncertain financial climate is putting pressure on funding bodies to prioritise support in areas that have greater potential to generate revenue.
Concerns about the decline in public investment in culture were registered by the Warwick Commission Inquiry into the Future of Culture Value. The Commission was set up to identify a way forward to protect and enhance the strengths of cultural and creative assets and ensure their value is understood. Its final report, Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth (2015), warned that further cuts risked undermining the cultural ecosystem, i.e. the interconnectedness of the cultural and creative industries and the flow of ideas, talent and investment from public and private sources that characterises them. The Commission was especially critical of the disconnect in policymaking, strategy and financing of publicly funded arts and culture. The absence of joined-up thinking between government departments was echoed by the UK Parliamentary Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport with its 2019 report on Changing lives: the social impacts of participation in culture and sport (see chapter 2.6). The Committee drew attention to the impact of culture in criminal justice, education and wellbeing and called on DCMS to lead a new inter-ministerial group to drive the policy issues across government.
Although there is some way to go before a ‘whole government’ approach is customarily built in to policy delivery, there has been evidence in recent years of greater collaborative partnerships between government departments and the Arts Councils and cultural organisations. This has been very evident in the area of culture and health/wellbeing, especially following the All-Party Parliamentary Group report on Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing and numerous other studies and the cross-governmental strategy on loneliness and the National Health Service Long-Term Plan for clinicians to prescribe arts/creative engagement more often than drugs (see chapter 2.7).
Many factors and not only resource constraints have led to a noticeable policy and research interest in how culture can be a significant driver of change at local level, how major events can bring a sense of pride, cooperation and community to cities and how culture-led regeneration can stimulate local economies in areas of decline (see chapters 2.6 and 2.7). A range of pilot programmes and placemaking initiatives have been introduced with support from foundations, the Lottery and funding agencies
It is unfortunate that the Culture White Paper and ministerial statements on the importance of culture in education is not matched by the reality on the ground. As an illustration, Creative Partnerships, the largest ever funded initiative to broker effective, sustainable partnerships between schools and arts, creative and cultural organisations and artists, was intended to develop a national strategy for creative learning and became a victim of Government cuts in 2011. More recently, despite evidence to the contrary, ministers and their departments have continued to deny that the introduction of the new English Baccalaureate, coupled with cutbacks in local authority education budgets, has resulted in less arts tuition and less take up for arts/creative studies in schools (see chapter 5.1) This makes it difficult to see how the Culture White Paper 2016 priority that culture should be an essential part of every child’s education in an out of school can be realised. However, the creation of Music Education Hubs funded by ACE and the Department of Education to provide joined-up music education has been seen as a positive development.
In relation to policy initiatives, it is difficult sometimes to escape the impression that governments especially, but also their agencies have a tendency to suffer from ‘cultural amnesia’ and to ‘reinvent the wheel’. Arguably, arts and education provide an illustration of this with the axing of the Creative Partnerships programme (referred to above), and then proposals in 2019 for its partial re-creation in a considerably more modest form (see chapter 5.2).
Policy interest in the notion of ‘cultural value’ – understood to mean the societal benefits that culture can bring including economic impacts, stronger communities, improved health/wellbeing and positive educational outcomes – has led to the establishment of a Centre for Cultural Value, the first of its kind in the UK. The Centre, based at Leeds University and operational from 2020, is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation with an investment in the region of GB£ 2.5 million over five years and follows the AHRC Cultural Value Project on the measurement of the impacts of engagement with culture (see chapter 2.7). This engagement between the cultural agencies and academia has been one of the interesting policy developments in recent years.
Among the policy goals identified in ACE’s first 10-year strategy, Great Arts and Culture for Everyone (see chapter 1.2.2), was a diverse leadership and workforce. Despite various initiatives by ACE, including the instigation of regular monitoring (The Creative Case for Diversity, see chapter 2.5.1), more work remains to be done. This has been recognised by ACE, as it says to build on and address diversity and inclusivity in cultural organisations’ leadership and workforce.
Another persistent and contentious issue is the apportionment of ACE investment between London and the regions. In 2013 an analysis of expenditure by ACE and DCMS, Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, revealed the imbalance between funding allocated to the capital compared with the rest of England. ACE’s pattern of expenditure in England was examined by the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in its report on the Work of Arts Council England in 2014. Further critical reports by the same authors followed subsequently, including Policy for the Lottery, the Arts and Community in England, which indicated how Lottery sourced money was being used as a substitute for government funding, and Hard Facts to Swallow, which claimed that ACE’s investment plans for 2015-2018 would do little to improve the geographical imbalance in funding.
Let’s Create, ACE’s Strategy 2020-2030 is built around three outcomes and four investment principles. The former focus on individual creativity, the role of culture in shaping the communities where people live and work, and ensuring England’s cultural sector is innovative, collaborative and international. The principles are: ambition and quality; inclusivity and relevance by ensuring diversity is reflected in the organisations and individuals supported and in the culture they produce; dynamism so cultural organisations thrive and are better equipped to respond to future challenges; and environmental responsibility. (https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/publication/our-strategy-2020-2030)
In 2017 the Welsh Government published a White Paper, Striking the Right Balance: Proposals for a Welsh Language Bill, and supporting and promoting the Welsh Language was one of the consultative inquiries of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee of the Welsh Assembly (see chapter 2.5.4). The Committee have also been looking into how publicly funded bodies can use culture to tackle poverty and social exclusion in Wales (see chapter 2.6) and examining the music industry in Wales (see chapter 3.5.4) and access to music education (see chapter 5.1).
Last update: March, 2020
Arts Councils in both England and Wales have a chartered responsibility to make the arts available to the population at large, though it has to be said that ensuring this happened was not always pursued with vigour in policy actions in the past. However, since the new millennium there has been increasing recognition – prompted to a certain extent by the need to justify government funding at a time of resource constraints – that more consideration and energy needed to be devoted to examining ways the right to experience the arts/culture could begin to be accomplished. Programmes have been developed that seek to engage people in areas of England and Wales where involvement in arts/culture was noticeably below the national average or have been focused on disadvantaged communities. Some of these initiatives are outlined in chapters 2.6, 2.7 and 6.1. Programmes seeking to engage children and young people have also been pursued, though obstacles to such engagement are also evident (see chapters 5.1 and 5.2).
Several incidents in relation to topics being explored in theatre performances or exhibitions have raised fears that freedom of expression was under threat. The exhibition installation Exhibit B, being presented at the Barbican, for example, was closed down due to security concerns following protests. Arguably, this was ironical because the exhibition showed black artists and others deliberately posing as objects of scientific curiosity as they were displayed on occasions in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The intention according to artist Brett Bailey was to critique the dehumanisation of people during the colonial period. However, protesters accused the exhibition of racism and exploitation.
In 2015 the National Youth Theatre cancelled Homegrown, a play relating to three London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State militants, when complaints were made by parents and some of the cast. A more recent illustration was the call by a Pro-Brexit campaign for the charitable status of the Photographers’ Gallery in London to be revoked and funding withdrawn for its hosting of Operation Earnest Voice, a project that explored the methods and strategies employed to influence public opinion – in this case by the Leave and Remain EU campaigns. The Gallery insisted it was operating within Charity Commission rules and did not give in. The outcome was different in the case of the Saatchi Gallery, which responded to criticism from visitors that an exhibition was blasphemous by placing sheets over the artwork at the request of the artist. The exhibit juxtaposed Arabic script of one of the five pillars of Islam with images of nude women. Arguably, it could have been foreseen that exhibiting such a provocative work would lead to problems, but the episode does raise the broader issue of how far the principle of freedom speech can be pursued. The authorities have power to close exhibitions, theatre performances or films adjudged to be obscene or where the police believe it will lead to public disorder and legal guidance for the cultural sector has been published by Index on Censorship and Vivarta (see chapter 4.1.1). However, episodes such as these led to a debate in Parliament in 2015 amid concerns that cultural organisations were self-censoring controversial or subversive work to avoid protests and ensure there were no threats to their public funding.
A survey on freedom of expression was conducted by Arts Professional and published in February 2020, which revealed that 70% of respondents would not criticize a funding source in case this affected future support and one-in six staff had been offered a financial settlement in return for keeping silent about circumstances within the organisation. This corresponds to some extent with a survey in 2019 by the Musicians Union, which revealed that half of respondents had experienced harassment in the workplace, but four in five had chosen not to report it. Arts Professional has launched a service, “We Hear You”, that provides cultural workers with a confidential space to share their concerns.
Another area where ethical questions have been raised is in relation to business sponsorship and donations and the extent to which cultural organisations should accept funds from commercial entities or individuals that may be associated with controversial activities, such as the oil industry and its impact on the environment. Such was the case with the Tate and BP, which sponsored some of Tate’s activities for many years, or the same cultural institution’s decision (as well as that of the National Gallery) in 2019 not to accept a large donation from the Sackler family because of the latter’s ownership of PurduePharma, which manufactured a drug alleged to have contributed to the opioid crisis in the USA. TheBritish Museum continue to accept BP sponsorship, but the Royal Shakespeare Company has chosen not to do so.
Last update: March, 2020
There is widespread acknowledgement that those engaged in the arts/cultural sector as employees or freelance workers are underpaid for the amount of work they do. In recent years the perception of unfair levels of remuneration and working conditions often considered as verging on exploitative, as well as the inability to achieve a work-life balance, has prompted more workers in the sector to complain of ‘burnout’ or leave the sector altogether.
Arts Professional conducted a survey of arts pay which revealed that low pay is prevalent at many levels. Its Arts Pay 2018 Survey indicated that 40% of those at an early stage of their careers earnt less than GB£ 20,000 pa, while 60% of those reported as working at a senior level in the arts said they earnt less than GB£ 30,000. Moreover, the survey confirmed that salaries are not only low in comparison with other industries, but take little account of unpaid duties that staff are often compelled to do in their ‘own’ time. Inevitably, this is especially evident in smaller organisations. Although remuneration in London tends to be higher than elsewhere, the cost of living in the Capital is making the arts profession a career choice primarily for those from more affluent families. New recruits in particular are poorly paid. According to research conducted by the Visitor Experience Forum and BOP Consulting on museums, galleries and other visitor attractions, 39% of respondents paid new recruits at entry levels below the Living Wage. Internships in the arts, whether or not linked to academic obligations, are typically unpaid, but undertaken by young people keen to gain experience to establish a career in the cultural sector.
There are also social inequalities related to class, gender, ethnicity etc. according to Panic!, a report published in 2018. Nevertheless, the Arts Pay 2018 Survey suggested that although individuals from working class backgrounds were significantly underrepresented in the arts workforce, once they start working in the sector, their social class was unlikely to be a real obstacle to progression.
Arts Council Wales has indicated that it will enforce minimum pay rates for artists engaged by organisations it funds.Arts Council England has not yet committed itself to enforcement, but expects the organisations it supports to show that the fees paid to artists and professionals are in line with or above guidelines set by relevant trade unions or employer bodies. Organisations employing freelance workers should at least pay the National Living Wage for anyone over 25. However, the trade union Equity has accused ACE of being too lax by not challenging cases of low pay in theatre. The Charity Commission now requires all charities in England and Wales, including arts/cultural organisations, to disclose staff remuneration.
There is increasing concern about the wellbeing of staff due to long hours, hard work and pressure. Even when compensatory time off is theoretically available, the volume of work often means employees are unable to take advantage of it. Mental health issues are becoming more evident in the sector in areas such as music. This has led to the establishment of the National Arts Wellbeing Collective, a network to exchange experiences and share best practice. A survey by Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts and Birkbeck, University of London, found that four in every ten people who quit careers in the performing arts do so because of difficulties balancing work with being a parent. The Balancing Act survey, conducted in 2018, questioned more than 2,000 current or former arts workers (of which 1,000 were parents and carers) who indicated challenges trying to maintain arts careers.
Although the creative and cultural sector has been growing faster than the wider UK economy, this has not been reflected in the income of many artists and creators. For example, Arts Professional revealed in 2015 that the average commission for a composer had fallen by GB£ 6,000 in real terms since 1997. There was little surprise when a report from ACE on the Livelihoods of Visual Artists revealed that only one-third of their income stream came from producing art (see also chapter 3.4). This research found that women represented a larger proportion of visual artists than men, but the latter were more likely to be among the more established group of artists and also to generate more income from the practice. An a-n/AIR Paying Artists Campaign in 2016 revealed that 63% of artists had refused an exhibition opportunity because of affordability.
ACE has introduced a new fund for artists, curators, producers and other creators worth up to GB£ 10,000 p.a. to give them time to research, develop new ideas, experiment, undertake training, collaborate or network. The Develop your Creative Practice fund bears some similarity to grants to ‘buy time’ to think or work on ideas that were awarded in the past.
Last update: March, 2020
In 2017, the UK Government launched the UK Digital Strategy with the aim to develop skills for individuals, organisations and government. In the same year, the then Department of Culture, Media and Sport was renamed the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This change not only reflects the Department’s increased responsibilities in the digital sectors, such as data protection and cyber safety, but is also indicative of the importance that digital has assumed in recent years.
Digitisation has had a noticeable impact on the arts and culture sectors in England and Wales and has provided new opportunities for arts organisations. In 2017, DCMS launched the Digital Culture Project with the #CultureisDigital online consultation with the aim of exploring how partnerships between technology and culture can benefit both the cultural and tech sectors. The consultation attracted contributions from more than 150 organisations from both the cultural and tech sectors and resulted in the 2018 Culture is Digital Report, which sheds light on the opportunities as well as the challenges presented by digital technology, but also sets a vision for the use of digital technology and the arts and cultural sectors.
The report further outlines a government policy commitment around three key themes. The first theme, audience engagement, centres on the myriad ways in which technology can be used to engage audiences, not only to increase engagement with existing audiences, but also to reach demographics with traditionally low cultural engagement and give valuable insight about existing audiences through analysis of audience data. Key theme number two is concerned with skills and capability in cultural organisations and shows that digital technology has the most impact in organisations where digital strategy is embedded in the overall strategy. However, it also highlights that many organisations lack the expertise to fully exploit the opportunities offered by digital technology. The third key theme is unleashing the creative potential of technology itself.
In response to the issues highlighted by the report, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund commissioned Digital Audit, a digital self-evaluation tool and best practice model, from The Audience Agency. The Audit helps organisations review their existing digital platforms and evaluate their impact. Another initiative, the Digital Culture Network, set up by ACEenables arts organisations it supports to access training sessions, events, one-to-one surgeries and online resources through the help of nine digital specialists with different areas of expertise, the so-called “tech champions”. Furthermore, the Network provides opportunities to develop partnerships between arts organisations and the tech sector. The Space is a digital agency which helps support artists and arts organisations in finding new audiences and producing high-quality art through digital technology. ACEalso published From Live-to-Digital: Understanding the Impact of Digital Developments on Theatre on Audiences, Production and Distribution. This was commissioned in conjunction with UK Theatre and the Society of London Theatre to better understand how live-to-digital work affects the way theatre is produced, exhibited and distributed.
A major annual digital-related event, REMIX, brings together leading figures from culture, technology and entrepreneurship to explore and visualise the future of the creative industries.
It is evident that digital technology is rapidly changing the way culture and entertainment is consumed, perhaps nowhere more so than in streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which have c20 million subscribers in the UK.
Last update: March, 2020
"Intercultural" is a term that is often confused with "multicultural". By multicultural we understand that a society encourages people to practice culture(s) particular to their own heritage. Multiculturalism in itself does not necessarily promote engagement between different cultures, whereas intercultural dialogue seeks to do so. Intercultural dialogue in England and Wales generally falls under the larger umbrella of cultural diversity.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport seeks to ensure that cultural diversity is considered in all its areas of activity, and looks to foster mutual understanding, nurture mutual respect and celebrate the cultural diversity of the UK.
The British Council has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote intercultural dialogue, especially with young people. It is committed to youth exchange on the basis that the experience can help promote intercultural dialogue and understanding. Cultural engagement is integral to the Council’s work in rebuilding trust in societies that have been riven by conflict (see chapter 1.4.1).
Championing cultural diversity, with the intention of promoting cultural dialogue, is integrated into the day to day work of the Arts Councils in England and Wales, with the aim of encouraging an environment where the arts reflect the full range and diversity of contemporary society, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to and access quality arts activity.
Currently the Arts Council of England’s definition of ‘diversity’, in line with that of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, covers four characteristics: disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Disability is dealt with in chapter 2.5.6, gender and sexual orientation in chapter 2.5.5, and this section will focus on non-white/ethnically diverse citizens. Although different terms are applied to describe people of different ethnicities in contemporary society, the ones in more common usage in the cultural sector are black and minority ethnic (BME) and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) (though these acroynms are sometimes contested and confused, e.g. some omit the reference to ‘Asian’ when using the term BAME, also see: https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/08/please-don’t-call-me-bame-or-bme/).
According to the most recent census, more than 7.6 million people in the UK come within the category of BME/BAME. The underrepresentation of BME people in the arts workforce has been a contentious issue at least as far back as the ground-breaking Gulbenkian Foundation report The Arts Britain Ignores (Naseem Khan) in 1976. Although various policies and programmes were introduced to address this, arguably it has only been in the past decade that the Arts Councils in England and Wales have begun to advance their work on equality and diversity.
Beyond Cultural Diversity, a report commissioned by Arts Council England, examined what may have gone wrong with state sponsored cultural diversity policy in Britain. Published by Routledge in 2011, it argues that state support of cultural diversity can result in a cultural “ghettoisation”. It proposed a new concept of creative diversity to promote a culturally integrated society and a programme of institutional, educational and policy reforms to facilitate this. In 2011 ACE launched the Creative Case for Diversity to address the persistent and widespread lack of diversity (see chapter 2.5.5).
Three years later, ACE’s then chairman Sir Peter Balgazette announced a fundamental shift in ACE’s approach to diversity in making its National Portfolio Organisations accountable for promoting and developing diversity to ensure their programming, audiences and workforce better reflect the diverse communities they serve. This included the instigation of regular monitoring of progress and, at the end of 2015, Consilium Research and Consulting produced a report for ACE, Equality and diversity within the arts and cultural sector in England, which established a baseline of data and research about equality and diversity across the sectors. It provided a snapshot of trends up to 2013 in relation to audiences, participation, the workforce and access to finance. A second data report by Consilium providing an updated picture was published at the end of 2016. The latest report, Equality, Diversity and the Creative Case: A Data Report 2017-2018, was published in 2019. This revealed the percentage of BME people in the subsidised arts/cultural workforce had increased from 11% to 14% (c/w 16% of the working age population) and representation on arts boards had risen from 12% to 15%. Although there was evidence that the percentage of organisations demonstrating a commitment to diversity had increased, ACE accepted that aspirations were not always being met.
The issues were not confined to England as Arts Council Wales’ Strategic Equality Action Plan 2017-2021 has sought to address a fall in diverse arts attendees, including those from BME backgrounds, and the low number of BME representation on boards in the country.
Several dedicated funding programmes have been introduced by ACE since 2013, including the Elevate Fund to support organisations not in receipt of multi-annual funds, but who were significant contributors to diversity, and Sustained Theatre Fund to help develop BME theatre makers. Change Makers was a targeted training initiative to increase the diversity of senior leadership in arts and culture from BME or disability backgrounds. Re:Present was a partnership programme between ACE, Birmingham City Council and three universities (Birmingham, Birmingham City and Aston) to support the next generation of cultural leaders in the city, especially those from diverse backgrounds.
In 2015, 19,000 BME workers were employed in music, the performing and visual arts in England according to DCMS, representing 6.6% of those working in the sector. Percentages are even smaller in literature and publishing. Certainly, people from BME backgrounds are poorly represented in the children’s literature sector according to research by the Centre for Economic and Social Research at Sheffield University. Its study, Time for Change – Black and minority ethnic representation in the children’s literature sector was published by ACE in 2019. It reinforced other studies, such as that commissioned by the Book Trust that found only 2% of children’s book authors and illustrators published between 2007 and 2017 were from a BME backgroundand that ofEqual Approach in 2018, with The Publishing Industry Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Survey 2018, that revealed people with BME backgrounds were underrepresented in the sector.
The issue of underrepresentation has been recognised by trade unions in the cultural sectors. BECTU, the media and entertainment union, for example, has launched a Diversity Action Plan to improve diversity in the theatre workforce. Pressure to address diversity issues in the cultural sector has been stepped up at a political level with the setting up of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Creative Diversity in 2019. This seeks to engage with government and the creative industries to identify and tackle obstacles to diversity in the creative sector.
Last update: March, 2020
The extent to which the cultures of different ethnicities are taught in schools in England and Wales will usually depend on where they are situated and the interest and role of individuals and especially head teachers. There is also the question of how ‘different’ cultures are defined, e.g. many Black or Asian children and their parents have been born in the UK, so may identify less with the countries of their ancestors. Newer migrant communities on the other hand may be finding it more difficult to assimilate. Children from ethnic minorities are unevenly distributed. Inner London has the largest percentage of children classified as ‘minority’ in England, though the largest growth has been in the outer parts of the capital and the smallest in North East England. (Primary Schools Responding to Diversity: Barriers and Possibilities)
Some schools will celebrate the cultures of their pupils with reference to cultural festivals, different food or ‘culture days’ in which children share their backgrounds and traditions or those of their parents. Education is largely a devolved responsibility to local authorities and so approaches will vary. Central government could do more to encourage schools to respond to diverse cultures, but diversity in education has been primarily considered in terms of attainment. Government policy and research has focussed more on why some ethnic groups perform better than others and how interventions can raise the educational achievements of less well performing pupils. Moreover, once children move from primary or secondary level education, many schools will focus on preparation for examinations.
The British Council produced Guidelines for Inclusion and Diversity in Schools in 2010 to provide policymakers and head teachers with a practical framework and illustrations of best practice in responding to the challenges of cultural diversity in education. The guidelines were the outcome of the Inclusion and Diversity in Education (INDIE) project, led by the Council in 2007-2010 and including England, Wales, Scotland and eight other Western European countries. One legacy was a European Youth Charter on Inclusion and Diversity in Education that, among other things, recommended schools should provide the possibility of having specialist practitioners in intercultural learning share their experience and passion with students, and should provide possibilities to access a wider range of cultures and religions.
The Migration Museum Project examines the role that migration has played in shaping who the British are through exhibitions, events and workshops, and includes a nationwide education programme.
Arguably, while it is generally acknowledged that the integration of children from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds in the education systems in England and Wales is essential, perhaps there is still insufficient attention given to ensure all students value diversity. Twenty years on from the major report All Our Futures: creativity, culture and education, produced by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education for the Department for Education and Employment and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, there may still be work to do to further one of the report’s recommendations that education should embrace and understand cultural diversity by bringing pupils into contact with the attitudes, values and traditions of other cultures.
Last update: March, 2020
The UK Government believes that programming should appeal to a wide range of tastes and interests, and to people of different ages and backgrounds. This is reflected in the current regulatory arrangements. The Communications Act 2003 established Ofcom as the independent media regulatory body, replacing five prior regulators. The work of Ofcom and the Communications Act are intended to ensure that commercial television and radio, telecommunications networks and wireless and satellite services operate, compete and develop in the greater public interest. Ofcom also has a number of powers in relation to BBC television and radio and advises the Secretary of State on proposed newspaper mergers. The Act requires Ofcom to carry out regular reviews of the fulfilment of the public service broadcasting remit set out in the Act.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a world-renowned public service broadcaster whose main income has been generated by a licence fee that everyone under 75 must pay if they have a TV or radio (see also chapter 3.5.3). The BBC's Royal Charter and its agreement with the government include obligations to provide a properly balanced service consisting of a wide range of subject matter and to serve the tastes and needs of different audiences. There are five main public service broadcasting (PSB) analogue terrestrial channels -BBC1, BBC 2, Channel 3 Services, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
The prominence of PSB traditional linear channels within electronic programme guidelines (EPGs) is protected by rules set out in Ofcom’s EPG Code. Under the Digital Economy Act 2017, Ofcom has an obligation to review the EPG Code by December 2020 and it has submitted recommendations for a new framework to keep PSB TV prominent for the main five broadcasters and other PSB and local TV services in the context of viewers increasingly watching TV online.
The British Film Institute launched a GB£ 57 million Young Audiences Content Fund in 2019 to support the creation of high-quality new programming for children and young audiences up to 18 for free to access TV and online platforms regulated by OFCOM. The fund, financed by DCMS, is intended to redress an historic lack of investment in content creation for younger audiences and enable public service broadcasters to compete for children’s attention in a saturated market.
The BBC initiated a new diversity and inclusion strategy in 2016 intended to ensure diversity issues are reflected in what it does on and off air. It established new on-air portrayal targets for women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Diversity commissioning guidelines were developed in consultation with the independent production sector and the BBC established a GB£ 2.1 million Diversity Creative Talent Fund. It also set targets for achieving a diverse workforce. Ironically, arguments within the BBC were publicly aired when some female broadcasters revealed that they were paid considerately less than male colleagues.
In 2018 a Thematic Review on Representation on Portrayal on BBC Television by Ofcom found that audiences consider both BBC and TV in general is better at portraying a wider mix of people than in the past, though some communities still felt less visible on screen or were concerned about being presented in one-dimensional or stereotypical ways.
Under the Communications Act, government has been able to refer any attempt to extend cross-media ownership to Ofcom to ensure that it is not likely to reduce the plurality of the UK media. Based on Ofcom's conclusions an assessment is made on whether or not the bid should be allowed to proceed. Some concern has been expressed about attempts by News International to extend its media interests in Britain further by acquiring 100% of BSkyB. However, this was overtaken by scandals caused by intrusive journalism (phone tapping) in one of its newspapers, which was closed down subsequently. The public and media furore that followed led the Government to set up a committee of enquiry chaired by Lord Leveson. This investigation recommended legislation to supervise the press. Subsequent political and media debate focussed on how current press self-regulation should be changed to strengthen press supervision. In the face of accusations that legislation would infringe freedom of expression, the Government decided to allow the press to continue self-regulation; there was widespread scepticism as to whether their response would prove effective and the perception that regulation is weak is widely held. In late 2019 the Competition and Markets Authoritywarned that a series of takeovers of local radio stations by Bauer Media could reduce competition and damage smaller stations.
Last update: March, 2020
English is the official language of the UK and is in common usage, though Wales is officially bi-lingual. The UK ratified the Council of Europe's Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2001, and has accepted certain obligations in respect of designated languages in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
A Welsh Language Board was established as a statutory body under the Welsh Language Act 1993. Its primary aim is to promote and facilitate use of the Welsh language and it does this by awarding grants and regulating the preparation and implementation of Welsh language schemes by public bodies. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 replaced the Board with a Commissioner. The measure gave the Welsh language official status and established standards to ensure that Welsh should be treated no less favourably than English. In 2017 the Welsh Government published a White Paper, Striking the right balance: proposals for a Welsh Language Bill. The following year the Welsh Assembly Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee launched an inquiry into how the language was supported and its report Supporting and Promoting the Welsh Language was published in July 2019. Use of the Welsh language is a deeply cultural issue and Arts Council of Wales funding and the strategy support this. In 2017/18 there were significant increases in Welsh language performances by touring companies and attendances had also grown.
Cornish is an officially recognised minority language and although numbers speaking it in England's South West are not large, they appear to be growing.
British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK Government in 2003 for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Last update: March, 2020
In 2010, the UK Government passed the Equality Act 2010, which legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. The Act is an important legal basis to combat gender-based discrimination in England and Wales because the protected characteristics include sex, being pregnant or on maternity leave, as well as gender reassignment. As the Act also informs much of Arts Council England’s work around diversity, women in the arts will be affected by it.
When looking at official documents, the most striking feature of gender issues is its absence. Although Arts Council England’s strategic framework for 2010-2020, Great Art and Culture for Everyone, stressed the importance of diversity and inclusivity, neither women nor gender issues were explicitly mentioned in the document. The same holds true for Arts Council England’s Creative Case for Diversity, which requires all Arts Council funded organisations to show how they support and increase diversity in the arts through their work. Looking at the monitoring prompts for supported organisations in the 2018-2022 portfolio, gender is only mentioned in a footnote. A positive exception is a document entitled the National Portfolio 2018-22: Equality Analysis, which states that following a consultation with Hybrid, ACE updated its definition of diverse-led organisations to include ‘female-led’ and ‘LGBT-led’ alongside ‘disability-led’ and ‘Black and minority ethnic led’, thus recognizing the importance of including gender in diversity measures. This change is important because it opens up funding opportunities for female-led organisations.
There are also various organisations that specifically champion women in the arts and cultural industries, for example the Association of Women in the Arts. However, in order to join the Association women need to have worked in the arts for a minimum of five years, which is why it can be presumed that the organisation will only be of limited help for women in the early stages of their careers.
The Equality and diversity within the arts and cultural sector in England 2013-2016: Evidence Review brings together the results of a range of studies and reviews on the subject and looks at both production and consumption of arts and culture. Although women and girls are more likely to consume arts and culture than boys and men, the numbers of women are not reflected in the workforce, as the arts and creative industries employ a lower proportion of women than in England as a whole. This discrepancy is still evident the further up the hierarchy ones goes and at board level, with women making up 45% of boards in National Portfolio Organisationsand 40% of boards in Major Partner Museums.
The LGBT community has become more visible in the population at large, at least in cities, since the turn of the century. Gay, lesbian and transsexual entertainers, actors and media personalities are more likely to be open about their sexuality today than in the past. Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales support a number of projects including theatre productions, live art and exhibitions that provide an opportunity to break down barriers and change perceptions. Since 2005 there has been an LGBT History Month which now has more than 1,000 cultural and other events.
Both the Arts Councils in England and Wales are committed to equality policies and greater representation in their workforce and those of the organisations they support and are obliged under the Equality Act to produce and Annual Equality Report. This includes monitoring the numbers of staff and board members who are from the LBGT community (as well as from other segments of the population). Requesting this information is seen as intrusive by some in the LGBT community and, because respondents are given the opportunity to decline answering the question, it is possible that the figures may not fully reflect the numbers actually involved.
Last update: March, 2020
The issue of disability has been on the agenda of the Arts Councils since the publication of the Attenborough Report on Arts and Disabled People by the Carnegie UK Trust in 1985. In 1986, all four Arts Councils in the UK also reached a common agreement to adopt a voluntary Code of Practice on Arts and Disability produced by the Arts Council of Great Britain. The latter was intended to encourage subsidised arts organisations to consider the needs of people with disabilities in their employment policies, programmes, outreach work, marketing and in facilitating access. However, despite pioneering work by companies such as Graeae, which featured disabled theatre performers and was founded almost 40 years ago, the long-established Shape Arts, Candoco, and ground-breaking artwork by more recently established companies, it has taken a considerable time to begin mainstreaming disability arts.
The Government has now appointed a Disability Champion for the Arts and Culture, Andrew Miller, who also serves on the councils of both Arts Council England and Arts Council of Wales. Among organisations active in the sector are Disability Arts Online, an organisation led by disabled people that gives artists with disabilities a platform to blog and share images describing their artistic projects and practice. DadaFest has been promoting disability and deaf arts including a festival for some years and also provides training and a young people’s programme.
In 2015 Creative Future, as part of its Fair Access to the Arts project, commissioned research to determine the factors preventing artists with disabilities and other marginalised adults from participating in the arts. The recommendations that followed fed into ACE’s Creative Case for Diversity.
People with disabilities are underrepresented within the cultural sector and in 2016 ACE commissioned research from the EW Group with a view to identifying such things as recruitment practices of arts/cultural organisations and opportunities for disabled employees to acquire relevant skills and advance in their careers. A report of the findings, Making a shift, was published by ACE in 2018. In another development the BBC indicated its intention to increase the representation of people with disabilities on air (see chapter 2.5.3).
In 2018 more than 100 arts organisations and others agreed upon a Cultural Inclusion Manifesto with a commitment to make the arts and education more inclusive for children and young people with disabilities, not least in relation to ACE’s vision of arts for everyone (see also chapter 5.2). The following year a campaign, Design Can, was launched calling on the design industry to be more representative of the public it serves, whatever their abilities, background, ages and identities.
The British Council and IETM (International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts) have initiated a four-year pan-European project – Europe Beyond Access – aimed at supporting disabled artists to internationalise their work and improve their employment opportunities, as well as build audiences in the dance and theatre sectors. An early outcome of this initiative is a dedicated website and digital newsletter.
Targets have been set by the Arts Council of Wales in its Corporate Plan to double the number of people with disabilities in the subsidised arts workforce and to triple representation on governing boards by 2023. This follows earlier evidence of a decline in the number of disabled people working in the arts and a fall in audience numbers of people with disabilities. ACW has also initiated a national access scheme, Hynt, for theatre and arts centres. Managed by Creu Cymru in conjunction withDiverse Cymru, the scheme provides disabled people with a card that enables any accompanying carer or companion to obtain a ticket free of charge. By early 2019 more than 40 venues had signed up to the scheme and it is hoped other Arts Councils in the UK will be encouraged to follow the example.
Last update: March, 2020
There are a number of local and national policies and projects that seek to promote social cohesion through social inclusion and, increasingly, culture in general and the arts in particular have demonstrated the potential to be effective vehicles in this regard.
In May 2019 the UK Parliamentary Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published the report Changing Lives: the societal impact of participation in culture and sport, following the inquiry it had conducted into this area. It said that cultural and sporting opportunities have intrinsic value, but that many organisations engaged in this ‘life-changing work’ are in a precarious financial position. It drew attention to evidence demonstrating positive outcomes of this work in the areas of criminal justice, education, health and urban regeneration. Significantly, it called on DCMS to establish and lead a new inter-ministerial group on the social impact of culture and sport, using it as a platform to reset cross-governmental work. In some ways this thinking marked a return to (if not an acknowledgement of) the ambition of encouraging and supporting innovative approaches to tackling social exclusion, as exemplified in the Social Exclusion Action Plan 2006 introduced by the Government of 1997-2010, which required ‘whole government’ attention. The nature of the work considered by the Parliamentary Committee and illustrations of the cultural initiatives evident in England and Wales in recent years and various policy pronouncements are reflected in both this chapter and in 2.7.
The Committee’s report builds on and develops a key message of the Culture White Paper 2016: that of ensuring culture benefits communities across the country, not least those that are disadvantaged. The White Paper recognised, for example, that there were ‘many good examples of how cultural interventions can benefit prisoners, ex-offenders and people at risk of being involved in crime’ in improving esteem, developing skills and establishing wellbeing. A number of organisations have developed projects demonstrating how the arts can aid prisoners and ex-offenders, including Clean Break, Geese Theatre Company and the Koestler Trust. The latter has supported ex-offenders by matching them with arts mentors. A mentoring scheme is also run by the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance. Between 2012 and 2017, Arts Council England invested GB£ 13 million in arts organisations whose focus was on tackling and preventing crime. More recently, ACE National Lottery Support enabled a project encouraging women in prisons to explore Shakespeare (‘Let’s change the story: Shakespeare in Prison’) and empower often vulnerable and socially excluded females. Funds from the charity Artswork, working in partnership with the Policy and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and Isle of Wight, enabled arts organisations to apply for grants between GB£ 500-5,000 for work with young people at risk of being involved in crime. Young and adult offenders are also one focus of Create, a charity that seeks to engage the most marginalised communities in sustainable arts programmes. In 2018/19, it supported 48 projects in the UK, with 850 creative workshops and involving 62 professional artists. Noting that the DCMS had recognised the role of the arts in reducing re-offending, but that its actions in this area were less developed than in relation to sport, the Parliamentary Committee called on DCMS and the Ministry of Justice to commission a joint review of arts in prisons.
Based on the evidence it received, the Parliamentary Committee is critical of the Government, the Department for Education and DCMS for failures to recognise how arts subjects have been downgraded in schools (see chapters 5.1 and 5.2). It also calls on DCMS to work with the Department of Health and Social Care to test how far the expansion of social prescribing of creative activities by clinicians can be mainstreamed (health and wellbeing are dealt with in chapter 2.7).
A poll of older people conducted for Arts council England by ComRes, published in 2016, revealed that 69% of those surveyed considered that arts and culture were important in improving their quality of life and c60% said they made them feel healthy. However, 38% said it was more difficult to attend or participate in cultural events and activities compared to when they were younger, blaming travel information, access and companionship. Nevertheless, programmes concerned with creativity and ageing are flourishing according to Older and Wiser? Creative Ageing in the UK 2010-2019, a report by Kings College, London, in 2020. However, the report says more needs to be done and this will require a concerted effort on the part of policymakers, politicians, arts and other funders to sustain and develop the work,
Although arts practice engaging refugees and asylum seekers has been evident in England and Wales since at least the 1970s, its development stems in particular from the early 2000s. In 2008, a research study, Arts and Refugees: History, Impact and Future (Kidd, B., Zahir, S. and Khan, S.) was published following a commission from ACE, the Baring Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The evidence suggested that cultural activities have proved to be ‘an effective means of promoting community cohesion, creating better understanding and mutual acceptance between host communities and refugees and asylum seekers’. Among recent examples of such initiatives is the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, which provides opportunities for refugees/asylum seekers in the town to share their experiences. In 2018 the Theatre was awarded the ‘City of Sanctuary’ status by the network of the same name, an initiative that begun in Sheffield in 2005 with the aim of welcoming refugees in need of safety. Phosphorus Theatre Company is the only theatre group in England composed entirely of refugees who arrived in the UK as unaccompanied minors. It helps new arrivals to learn English, which is important in the context of reductions in funding for teaching the language, and has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and in Malta. Art Refuge UK works through arts and art therapy with people who have been displaced due to religious or political persecution, armed conflict and trafficking. Three UK-led projects were successful in the EU’s one-off Refugee Integration Projects strand in Creative Europe in 2016. One of them, ArtReach, was to use its Journeys Festival International as a vehicle to celebrate exceptional refugee artists. The others were European Alternatives, seeking to encourage refugees to learn from each other, and acta community theatre, supporting refugees to share their stories.
Another marginalized community – Roma or gypsies – are the focus of the Romani Culture and Arts Company’s Gypsy Maker project funded by the Arts Council of Wales. This employs artists from this community to challenge racism, discrimination and preconceptions about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
The Welsh Government commissioned Baroness Andrews to conduct a review to ascertain how engaging in culture can reduce poverty by enabling people to develop new skills. Her report, Culture and Poverty, published in 2014, made 35 recommendations on how the Welsh Government, local authorities, cultural organisations, community bodies and schools could work together to ensure accessibility of culture to all. In response the Government initiated a programme, Fusions, in 2015 to test new collaborative approaches in six ‘pioneer areas’: Cardiff, Gwynedd, Newport, Swansea, Torfaen and Wrexham. Subsequently, in 2018, the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee of the Welsh Assembly initiated an inquiry into how publicly funded bodies can use culture to tackle poverty and social exclusion.
A 2014 report, The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society, which looked into the wider societal impacts of arts and culture, said there was insufficient evidence to underpin claims for the beneficial impact of the arts. Commissioned by ACE and based on a review of more than 500 English language research studies published between 2010 and 2013, the report considered that less than 20% of the studies examining social, economic, educational, environmental and health/wellbeing outcomes of arts and cultural interventions were sufficiently robust for valid conclusions to be drawn. Perhaps contentious and certainly alarming, the review identified a range of weaknesses in the studies and prompted ACE to indicate its intention to pursue new research that would enable a strong case to be made for the impacts of arts and culture. This led later in 2014 to the launch of a research grants programme to develop partnerships with specialist higher education cultural policy research units, think tanks, consultants and foundations. Interestingly, a survey the same year – the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s ArtWork Evaluation Survey of Artists – revealed that many socially engaged arts practitioners considered their work to be undervalued and there was insufficient appreciation of its benefits. Moreover, most believed that those engaging them did not always know how to fully utilize the experience.
Shortly after, in 2015, a pilot impact investment fund targeting social outcomes in arts and culture was launched with the support of NESTA, ACE, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and additional assistance from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Believed to be the first of its kind in the world, the GB£ 7 million Arts Impact Fund supported 22 arts organisations to test that there is demand for social finance in the arts and culture sector as an alternative to commercial loans and there are credible business models that can generate funds to repay the investments. The Fund was intended to be used by organisations to become more financially resilient to develop their social and artistic impact in three areas: community, health and welfare and youth and educational attainment.
Last update: March, 2020
Arts in the community
In recent years there has been a noticeable focus on the place of culture in towns, cities and civic life, whether through inquiries, research, programmes or accolades such as the UK City of Culture.
The Cultural Cities Enquiry: Enriching UK Cities report from Core Cities UK outlines ways that cities can make better use of their cultural assets to compete successfully for talent, tourism and investment. It recommends strategic partnerships of city authorities, business, education, cultural and community leaders to co-operate in “City Cultural Compacts” that build on shared interests to promote creative and digital innovation and attract external investment.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK has funded a two-year Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations and the relevance such organisations have in their local communities. The intention is to consider, in partnership with arts and civic society practitioners, how the role of such organisations can be strengthened through policy change and support. A Creative Civic Change programme has been launched in response to the inquiry to fund over three years a number of community-led arts projects with a track record of employing arts and creativity to address social need in their local area. It is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
A report from the Local Government Association expressed the view that communities must play a central role in cultural regeneration strategies. The report, Culture-led Regeneration: Achieving Inclusive and Sustainable Growth, looks at the economic and social impacts of culture-led regeneration and emphasizes the importance of cultural growth being linked to the history and heritage of an area.
Living Places is a project that has sought to provide those involved in shaping communities in five English areas with information, advice and support in the use of culture and sport to create better environments and empower communities to make cultural and sporting activities and infrastructure part of their lives.
The Great Place Scheme is a three-year pilot programme to put the arts, culture and heritage at the heart of planning in 16 communities in England. The Scheme, funded by ACE and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, aims to test new approaches to enabling cultural, community and civic organisations to work more closely together to discover how it might boost local economies and promote community cohesion and wellbeing. It builds on a project between the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Royal Society of Arts that sought to identify areas that could better utilise their heritage assets to strengthen local identity, improve community wellbeing and generate tourism. A scheme to regenerate high streets through culture, arts and heritage assets is being administered by Historic England (see chapter 3.1).
Creative People and Places is a diverse action-research programme that focusses on the parts of England where involvement in arts and culture is considerably below the national average (see chapter 6.1).
A project to better understand how culture is resourced and engaged with in towns in England was launched in 2019 by ACE in conjunction with the research organisation Centre for Towns. It will examine how people participate in cultural activities and how the local infrastructure is distributed.
The UK City of Culture, modelled on the European Capital of Culture, was instigated by DCMS to build on the interest shown by cities in Liverpool’s experience in 2008. A key aim is to transform the winning city and build community cohesion rather than simply showcasing what already exists to attract more visitors. Derry-Londonderry was selected for the first UK event in 2013 and Hull followed in 2017. Hull’s year of celebration was estimated to have contributed up to GB£ 300 million to the economy and changed negative images of the City. However, a report from the Culture, Place and Policy Institute of the University of Hull, though confirming significant economic and social impacts, suggested the benefits were fragile and that consolidating a core audience for culture and encouraging greater engagement of non-attenders would be a challenge. Coventry has been selected for 2021. Hull’s experience encouraged the Mayor of London to institute an annual London Borough of Culture, with 22 local authorities competing for 2019, which was won by Waltham Forest. The intention is to encourage councils in London to place arts and culture at the heart of their communities, especially at a time of austerity and polarised societies. Brent was awarded the accolade for 2020. Greater Manchester has announced plans to set up its own Town of Culture award for 2020.
Following the institution of the UK City of Culture competition, the Cultural Cities Research Network was set up with funds from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to consider the impact of the bidding process for the latter accolade on policymaking, the role of the creative economy in city strategies and the connections between different communities. The Institute of Cultural Capital (a collaboration between Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool University), led the network in association with City University, London, and Birmingham University and with three of the shortlisted cities for the UK competition in 2013. One outcome was a report on the network, It’s Not the Winning…Reconsidering the Cultural City (Wilson. K and O’Brien. D) in 2012.
While much research and initiatives have focussed on urban areas, a study was published by ACE in 2019 that sought to identify issues confronting arts in rural areas and help determine a future strategy. Rural areas have been hit especially hard by reductions in public funding for arts and culture with a 32.7% cut between 2010-2017 and the Rural Evidence Review notes that only 2.6% of the total funding of ACE’s National Portfolio Organisations is being allocated to those NPOs defined as ‘rural’ in the period 2018-22.
Arts and health
Although arts/culture and health began to emerge in England and Wales as a policy issue in the 1980s, it was not until 2001 when the Secretaries of State for Health and for Culture emphasized the role that the arts could play in delivering health benefits, that the issues gained some traction. In the last decade an increasing emphasis on wellbeing has broadened the territory from one are seeking to deploy the arts to help people suffering from ill health, as well as improve the environment of health care buildings, to one that utilises arts and culture provision to tackle wider social concerns such as age-related difficulties and the general health of the whole population. During the past decade there has been an acceleration in the amount of research interest in the area.
In 2007 the Department of Health and ACE jointly published a Prospectus for Arts and Health, showing through examples of good practice how the arts contribute to health/wellbeing. The same year, ACE also issued a national framework for arts, health and wellbeing seeking to integrate the arts into mainstream health strategy and policymaking.
In 2017 an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing issued a report – Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing – which recommended that the Secretaries of State for Culture, Health, Education, Communities and Local Government should develop a cross-government strategy to support the delivery of health/wellbeing outcomes, and also ACE should support arts/cultural organisations it funds to make health/wellbeing outcomes integral to their work as a priority in the Council’s 2020-2030 strategy. It also recommended that education of clinicians, health and care professionals etc. should include accredited modules on the evidence base and practical use of arts in health/wellbeing outcomes. One recommendation – that National Health Service Trusts, clinical commissioning groups, local authorities etc should incorporate arts on prescription in their plans – is already being developed, including a project fund for doctors to prescribe arts activities (in place of drugs) to patients in 23 areas. The NHS Long Term Plan 2019-2024 states that all general practitioners in England will be able to refer patients with mental health issues to culture and other community activities by 2024. Moreover, a cross-generational strategy on loneliness launched in 2018 factors in social prescribing of arts/culture and ACE is required to co-operate with public health providers to suggest suitable programmes as well as identify best practice. Interestingly, a survey of more than a 1,000 General Practitioners in the UK health service, conducted by Savanta:ComRes on behalf of AESOP (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose) in 2019, revealed that 74% of the GPs considered that engagement with the arts can make a significant contribution to the prevention of health issues. This represented a very noticeable increase in favourable opinions of doctors towards arts-based intervention.
The Arts Council of Wales will be collaborating with the Welsh National Health Service Confederation in a project that is to explore how arts interventions can play a prominent and sustainable role in health and wellbeing. The project is led by Ylab, a partnership between Nesta and Cardiff University, and follows ACW’s mapping study of arts and health in 2018. In addition, ACW is to partner the Welsh Government, Public Heath Wales, the NHS and arts sector to improve the evidence base for arts in health interventions and “scale up” those interventions proven to be effective. It will also contribute to the Government’s cross-cutting priority of better mental health.
Last update: March, 2020
In this approach to cultural sustainability, the focus will be on two aspects: financial and environmental. Another aspect of sustainability, well-being, is dealt with in chapter 2.7.
The term ‘resilience’ has been frequently used in the cultural sector in England and Wales in recent years, not least because of the challenging economic environment and budgetary pressures. In 2010, Arts Council England made supporting resilience one of the central planks of Great Art and Culture for Everyone: Ten Year Strategic Framework. The same year ACE published research it had commissioned on resilience (Robinson, M: Making Adaptive Resilience Real). Eight years later ACE published further research it had commissioned from Global Media Venture and The Audience Agency (Woodley, S, Towell, P, Turpin, R, Thelwell, S and Schneider, P: What is Resilience Anyway? A Review). This sought to establish how resilience was understood in the arts and culture sectors; to what extent and how organisations are responding to a need to be more resilient; and what opportunities there might be to develop the sector’s resilience. Although the study acknowledged the sector was already resilient in many ways, it considered that long-term resilience required adaptability to embrace innovation, a willingness to accept risk and acceptance that failure was a part of the ecosystem.
In recent years ACE has introduced several limited-term measures with Lottery funding to help the sector develop fundraising skills as part of building sustainability. These included Catalyst: Evolve, a GB£ 17.5 million fund in 2016 (built on experience gained from the earlier Catalyst arts programme) with the aim to support organisations with a limited track record in fundraising. Catalyst Small Grants, launched in 2017, supported capacity building for SMEs. Elevate was a funding programme to strengthen resilience in the arts, museums and libraries not in receipt of National Portfolio funding. The Building Resilience programme supported external organisations/consultancies to lead cohorts of organisations exploring and piloting different approaches to long-term sustainability. One of these, Boosting Resilience, supported organisations to make the most of their creative assets and intellectual property and developed an executive learning programme led by Cass Business School (University of London), Manchester Metropolitan University and the Culture Capital Exchange. A publication, Reflections on Resilience and Creative Leadership was also an outcome.
In another illustration of building resilience, ACE has funded projects to help cultural bodies meet the challenges of business and organizational development by drawing on appropriate business advice and consultancy. The extent of the use of business guidance was revealed in a 2017 report from Coventry University – Business Support and the Cultural and Creative Sector in England (Henry. N, Broughton. K, Hastie.C and Barker. V). This was funded by ACE as part of the Prosper programme to improve resilience, commercial capacity and investment readiness of the arts , museums and libraries, and was managed by Creative United, a company supporting the growth and development of the creative industries
The pilot Arts Impact Fund was launched in 2015 to provide unsecured loans to arts and cultural organisations delivering social outcomes and support them to become more enterprising and resilient (see chapter 2.6).
TheArts Council of Wales introduced an exploratory Resilience Programme for the Arts Portfolio organisations it funds. This enabled organisations that were encountering particular problems to be analysed by specially recruited advisers to determine what action might be needed to address the difficulties. Solutions might involve such things as governance reviews, skills audits, organisational reviews, financial and business assessments or making the organisation more environmentally sustainable.
The New Labour UK Government (1997-2010) set an ambitious target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. In common with other publicly funded sectors, the cultural field is expected to play its part in the realisation of such a target. For example, as a result of a partnership with the electronics company Philips, the National Theatre was able to save approximately GB£ 100,000 on its annual lighting costs. However, after the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government was elected in 2010 one of the three key priorities of the British Council, climate change, was demoted in importance as it was no longer considered to be a priority of the new Government at a time of financial stringency. Nevertheless, reducing environmental impact is a policy requirement by Arts Council England of its National Portfolio Organisations and ACE is committed to reducing carbon emissions through changes to its buildings and reducing travel to meetings of staff. ACE has co-operated with Julie’s Bicycle, a charity that seeks to embed environmental sustainability in the work of creative industry organisations by advising how they can reduce environmental impacts.
The Climate Heritage Network brings together arts, culture and heritage stakeholders to tackle climate change issues and achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
One of the principles of Let’s Create, ACE’s strategy 2020-2030 Corporate Plan 2018-20 for the arts, museums and libraries to be environmentally responsible. Draft Strategy for 2020-30, ACE will help create conditions in which the organisations it funds “can lead the way in their approach to the climate emergency.” This is expected to be done through access to advice and the sharing of best practice.
In stating its commitment to sustainable development, ACW says projects should take account of long-term benefits and costs – environmental, social and economic. It expects the organisations it funds to place sustainability at the heart of their plans including environmental awareness. ACW has supported some arts organisations to install energy efficient LED lighting, solar panels and update heating systems.
Last update: March, 2020
Brexit (The UK’s departure from the European Union)
The Brexit referendum decision to leave the European Union presents major challenges to the UK economy, including the creative and cultural industries and the broader cultural sector. Impacts are likely to be felt in mobility and work opportunities for UK performers, artists and cultural organisations, in the movement of cultural goods and services, in the recruitment and retention of EU workers, in financial income and expenditure, in cultural co-operation and in the UK’s soft power reputation. The extent of these impacts will depend on the nature of any deal which the UK negotiates with the EU and will be magnified if the UK leaves with a ‘bad’ deal or no deal at all (and as this part of the Compendium was being prepared these last two scenarios appeared to be the most likely outcome).
The Incorporated Society of Musicians have indicated that 70% of professional UK musicians travel overseas for work, especially to EU Member States, while a-n (Artists’ Newsletter) noted that 40% of visual artists travelled regularly to Europe in the 12 months to July 2017. It could have a serious impact on UK arts organisations that travelled to or toured in the EU, as they could be subject to visa regulations and border checks when bringing in equipment such as sets of musical instruments temporarily. This could deter smaller companies, and even large music ensembles, theatre and dance companies may be forced to reduce their engagements in the EU because of legal costs and administrative procedures.
According to the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), creative organisations may face the ‘catastrophic’ possibility of higher costs when trading goods and services to EU countries, and losing employees. The EU is a major trading environment for the UK creative industries, representing 56% of cultural exports in 2015. Guidance prepared by the law company Bates Wells Braithwate for the CIF in 2018 noted that 40% of UK creative industries export goods to EU states, and these could be subject to customs checks and trade tariffs.
EU citizens represent 8% of the classical music workforce in the UK according to the Association of British Orchestras, but an estimated 20% of the dance sector and, on the evidence of the Museums Association, 15% of staff from larger museums have been recruited from EU countries. The DCMS indicated that 115,000 workers in UK creative industries were from the EU, a figure which the CIF considered to be a huge underestimate. In a 2018 report on The Potential Impact of Brexit on the Creative Industries, Tourism and the Digital Single Market, the House of Commons DCMS Committee inferred that the Government was underestimating the extent to which the creative industries depended on EU workers.
Members of the House of Lords in a debate in May 2019 also raised concerns about the future treatment of EU nationals and the Government’s failure to seriously consider recommendations by the Lords’ European Union Committee in July 2018, noting that should the current UK visa system applicable to foreign nationals also be applied to EU nations it would make it difficult to attract EU talent. Indeed, the new Government has indicated that it will introduce an “Australian style” points-based visa system that could impose stricter rules for touring artists from outside the UK. This has alarmed some in the cultural sector who fear this would not only limit access by EU based practitioners, but could result EU states making it more difficult for UK performers and creators to engage with their countries.
A report from ICM Unlimited and SQW, Impact of Brexit on the Arts and Culture Sector, for Arts Council England in 2017 suggested that 17% of the earned income of theatre companies and 16% of that earned by dance companies was generated by international activity, much of it from engagements in the EU. A fall in the value of £ sterling since the referendum result has already impacted on the cost of engaging overseas cultural artists and organisations and importing cultural supplies and materials.
The UK is involved in more than 50 EU funding programmes, at least five of which relate directly or indirectly to culture (Creative Europe, Erasmus, European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and Horizon 2020). A 2017 study, Assessing the EU’s Contribution to the Arts, Museums and Creative Industries in England, produced by EUCLID for ACE, revealed that UK organisations received at least GB£ 345 million between 2007 and 2016 (excluding the audiovisual sector). However, it was not simply the financial return to organisations in England that is revealing, but the fact that the organisations were involved in 1,385 projects, evidence that England and Wales (and the UK as a whole) is a consistently valued cultural partner for co-operation.
There is also concern that Brexit is having an adverse effect on the UK’s soft power reputation. A British Council report Soft Power Superpowers – Global trends in cultural in cultural engagement and influence (MacDonald, A), in 2018 argued that for the UK to maintain its leading position in soft power it will need an ‘open Brexit’ that has a continuing commitment to multilateral engagement. Unfortunately, it seems an open Brexit is not on the UK Government’s agenda. The Brexit debate has polarised society in the UK and led to an alarming climate of antagonism and even hate. Is there a role for culture to help heal the divisions? It’s a ‘big ask’, especially if the cultural sector is damaged financially should the economy contract and there is even more pressure on public expenditure and people’s incomes.
This entry was finalised before the full impact of the Coronavirus was known. However, the closure of theatres, concert halls, museums, galleries, cinemas and other cultural venues and events in response to Government advice to the public to avoid unnecessary contact with other people, in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus, is expected to have a devasting effect on the cultural sector.