LGA launches new Commission to promote role of culture in pandemic recovery

The Local Government Association is launching a new commission to promote the role of arts and culture in our recovery from the pandemic and as we look to level up communities across the country. 


The Independent Commission on Culture and Local Government, chaired by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, will bring together national, regional and local organisations, to make the case for the unique role of council funded and supported culture in contributing to economic growth, and addressing inequalities in communities across the country. 

It will publish a report in December 2022 which will set out the evidence for the value of essential cultural services and a vision for sustaining local cultural provision through shared investment and collaboration. 

During the pandemic, people turned to culture for solace and connection. Local cultural services such as libraries, museums, theatres and arts centres reached out to communities in lockdown to address isolation, support mental wellbeing and provide educational opportunity.   

As we move towards recovery, these important community services remain vital, but are under pressure. 

Councils remain the biggest public funders of culture, spending over £1 billion a year in England alone. They run a nationwide network of local cultural organisations, including 3,000 libraries, 350 museums, 116 theatres and numerous castles, amusement parks, monuments, historic buildings, parks and heritage sites. 

The LGA said a long-term sustainable investment in culture would lead to better health and wellbeing for communities, support economic renewal, address educational inequalities and strengthen community pride. 

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: 

“Local organisations form the backbone of our cultural infrastructure and play a vital role in supporting social mobility, boosting pride in communities, providing a pipeline of skills for the creative industries and supporting economic regeneration.

“Whether by delivering direct cultural services like libraries, or by commissioning freelancers and providing spaces for artists and performers to develop their creative skills, councils are critical to our cultural ecosystem and developing the creative talent of the future.

“The Commission will bring together voices from across sector to ensure the final report reflects the contribution culture can make as we build back from the pandemic.” 

Baroness Lola Young, Chair of the Independent Commission on Culture and Local Government, said: 

“Culture has a vital role to play in our national recovery from COVID-19: it brings people together, provides inspiration and solace, supports mental wellbeing and makes better places for everyone. 

“This Commission is an opportunity to demonstrate the impact of the incredible work cultural services and organisations are doing to support their communities up and down the country. 

“Collaboration is key and we are looking forward to exploring how national, regional and local organisations can work together to better support a thriving cultural sector.” 

Notes to editors 

  • The Commission on Culture and Local Government will run until December 2022.
  • It will seek evidence from a wide range of cultural services, organisations and practitioners and hold a series of four evidence sessions between April and July 2022.
  • The Commission is being launched as part of the LGA and National Campaign for the Arts’ annual Hearts for the Arts Awards ceremony, which celebrates the work of council cultural teams and culture trusts.
  • Commissioners will include: 

Hasan Bakhshi, Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre
Derri Burdon, Chief Executive, Curious Minds
Corey Campbell, Creative Director, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Nathan Geering, Artistic Director, Theatre Deli, Sheffield
Cllr Peter Golds CBE, Deputy Chair of LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board
Veda Harrison, Director of Creative, Confident Communities and a Fairer Future, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Val Birchall, Immediate past Chair, Chief Culture and Leisure Officers Association
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive, National Heritage Lottery Fund
Samantha Richardson MBE, Director, National Coastal Tourism Academy
Petra Roberts, Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council
Bobby Seagull, Reading Agency Champion and past CILIP Libraries Champion
Professor Katy Shaw, Director of Cultural Partnerships, Northumbria University and author of the Northern Culture APPG report The Case for Culture
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England
Sara Wajid MBE, Co-Chief Executive of Birmingham Museums Trust
Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, Historic England

  • For more information on the Commission and to sign up to our newsletter, please visit the LGA website.