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The Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, chaired by RSA Chair Vikki Heywood, launches its final report which seeks to create a blueprint for the future of investment and engagement in our cultural lives. 

The Commission’s report, entitled Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth and published in partnership with the RSA, brings together the findings of a series of public and private meetings with artists, creative and cultural professionals, economists, business leaders and other stakeholders, backed up by targeted research.

The report argues that the Cultural and Creative Industries are one entity, an ecosystem, which is becoming increasingly important to British life, the British Economy, and Britain’s place in the world. However, we are failing to build on our strengths as a creative nation, or realise an acceptable degree of access and participation.

It reminds us that the Cultural and Creative Industries are the fastest growing industry in the UK. The Gross Value Added of the sector was estimated as £76.9 billion in 2013, representing 5% of the UK economy.

But the Commission’s analysis reveals how the synergies across the cultural and creative ecosystem can be supported much more effectively. There is an urgent need for a national plan for the sector that maximises cultural, economic and social return. This would be produced by the government Departments for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Education (DfE). The lack of joined up policy making is limiting participation and not realising the full value of public investment.

The report also reveals the extent to which the successes of the Cultural and Creative Industries as a whole are dependent on the ideas, talent development, and R&D across the whole ecosystem. The Commission believes that any further reductions from current levels of public investment will undermine the ecosystem – meaning less creative risk, talent development, and diminishing future financial and creative returns. The report suggests ways that existing investment can work harder, with public and private investors and cultural leaders developing a new model for the publicly funded elements of the cultural and creative industries that will maximise their commercial potential. 

Introducing the report, the Commission’s Chairman and RSA Chair, Vikki Heywood CBE said: “The key message from this report is that the government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.”

The Commission’s analysis throws down a sharp challenge to all those who value how culture enriches people’s lives. Levels of access and participation still comprehensively fail to reflect the rich diversity of our population. We are all impoverished as a result, culturally and economically. The Commission makes a range of recommendations as to how we can ensure everyone has access to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life.

 Recommendations include:

  • The Department for Education and Ofsted to ensure that all children up to the age of 16 receive a broad cultural education, creating a national vision for England’s education ambitions matching those produced for Wales and Scotland. An arts or media subject should be included in the English Baccalaureate; no school should be designated “outstanding” without evidence of an excellent cultural and creative education. There should be an Arts and Culture Pupil Premium and a national Creative Apprenticeship Scheme. The Higher Education Funding Council for England should ensure that access to training for Cultural and Creative Industries programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level are properly accessible.
  • A free digital public space (DiPS) should be developed to enable people to access the country’s vast culture and empower them to assume their full and fulfilling role as digital cultural consumers, regardless of skill level, ability, status or income. All publicly funded creative content would be easily discoverable and available online in this free digital ‘cultural library’.It must be without political and commercial interference and created solely for the public good.
  • Cultural organisations and projects in receipt of public funding, including from the Arts Council England, British Film Institute and the Heritage Lottery Fund, should be required to provide a triple bottom line account of their economic viability, artistic/creative quality and their delivery of social value in terms of reaching wider audiences and being representative of British contemporary society. 
  • The creation of local consortia of public and private investors to develop place-based strategies answering local cultural and creative needs, in order to make the local matter. A Cultural and Creative Industries Clusters Fund should be set up. The BBC must lead a campaign to reconnect the public with culture at national and local levels and both professional and amateur. 

Please visit the Warwick Commission website  for more information and to read the report.


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