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LAST MODIFIED ON: 07/12/2020 - 18:16
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There is no separate national strategy directly addressing young people’s access to and participation in creativity and culture.
However, the Culture White Paper, published by the then Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2016, outlines the Government's future policy commitments for public support to the arts and culture. Alongside addressing the importance of culture in place-making, building stronger communities and boosting economic growth, the policy includes commitments related to children and young people.
As well as this, significant moves are being made towards aligning culture policy with the 2017 Digital Strategy and Industrial Strategy. In 2019, the DCMS released the policy paper Culture is Digital, recognising the significant role of creativity, and outlining how culture and creative industries will be an important part of the broader long-term industry aims. The paper outlines three broad areas of policy commitments - using digital technology to engage audiences, skills and the digital capability of organisations, and unleashing the creative potential of technology. It’s important to note this policy paper covers the whole of the UK although cultural policy is devolved to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
The Culture White Paper outlines four key pledges with respect to arts and culture, each of which includes a number of associated actions and partnerships, planned by the Government in order to sustain and strengthen the arts, thereby generating economic and social benefits. These four main pledges are:
- everyone should enjoy the opportunities culture offers, no matter where they start in life.
- the riches of our culture should benefit communities across the country.
- the power of culture can increase our international standing.
- cultural investment, resilience and reform.
The first of these pledges is most relevant to children and young people. It includes the need to focus on:
- ensuring that culture is an essential part of every child's education, both inside and outside of school
- improving access to skills development and career pathways into employment in the cultural sectors.
- ensuring that publicly-funded arts and culture reflect the diversity of the country.
Each action has an emphasis on improving access and participation by young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the implementation of the strategy.
A number of delivery partners are explicitly mentioned in the strategy, including the following:
- the Department for Education, which is responsible for children's services and education
- local authorities (LAs), which are responsible for the delivery of educational and recreational activities for children and young people in their respective areas
- Arts Council England, which supports activities across the arts, using public money from Government and funding from the National Lottery. It provides funding for music and cultural education programmes including the National Youth Dance Company.
- Historic England, which protects England's historic environment.
- the Heritage Lottery Fund, which funds projects and partners working to transform and protect places, buildings and collections of importance to England's heritage.
- Public Health England, which works to reduce health inequalities by protecting and improving health and wellbeing.
The Culture White Paper is the Government's first white paper in this area in more than fifty years and is the second culture white paper ever published. The first national strategy, A Policy for the Arts, was published in 1965 by the then Department for Education and Science.
In February 2018, a review of how the arts, libraries and museums sector has progressed was commissioned by the Arts Council. This report is not specifically about young people but is an important publication for assessing the broader sectoral issues and external issues that continue to face the sector - and included in this is barriers and enablers to participation for young people. Some of the questions that guide this evidence review are: “to what extent do children and young people in England currently engage in arts and culture? What factors influence children and young people who do not engage in arts and culture to do so?” . In assessing the expected changes and emerging factors that might influence children and young people’s engagement in arts and culture in the next 10 years, the report finds:
If the correlation between socio-economic group and participation in culture is
maintained, it is possible to predict that lower social mobility will result in less of what is traditionally defined as cultural participation while greater social mobility over the next 10 years could result in greater participation in culture.
It is predicted that unless there is an increase in BAME young people participating in arts and culture, engagement will continue to decline as populations grow more ethnically diverse. The report also fully acknowledges the impact Brexit and austerity measures have had, and will continue to have, on the arts and culture sector in England.
The Arts Council England Strategy for 2020-2030 “Let’s Create” outlines a vision for the country in which everyone has access to cultural experiences. The strategy is built around three outcomes - creative people, cultural communities and a creative and cultural country. It has four investment principles - inclusivity and relevance, ambition and quality, dynamism, and environmentalism. The strategy also outlines the role of the Arts Council for the next 10 years including building capacity at the local level and providing platforms for public debate and maintaining strong partnerships.
In March 2020, the Local Government Association published “Cultural Strategy in a Box”, a guide giving key lessons and guidance in writing a cultural strategy that can be tailored to suit the needs of the local authority and its place. It draws on good practice examples from across England.