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LGA publishes new report on the future of cultural services

The Local Government Association has today published seven original articles from leading policy thinkers exploring the future of local publicly funded cultural services and devolution.

The Local Government Association has today published seven original articles from leading policy thinkers exploring the future of local publicly funded cultural services and devolution, to coincide with the start of the annual LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport conference.

Following on from the publication of Cornerstones of Culture, the final report of the LGA’s Commission on Culture and Local Government, this will be the first instalment of a series of think pieces tackling issues around cultural devolution, data and evidence, community empowerment, cultural infrastructure and funding. 

Cllr Liz Green, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board said: 

“The environment for cultural services is going to remain a challenging one as councils continue to experience significant pressure to their budgets. We need to gather perspectives from within and without the cultural sector to create new thinking on the opportunities to sustain local cultural provision. 

“We cannot afford to be divided – only by working together as a sector to ensure our shared investment and resources go as far as possible will we be able to protect our vital cultural infrastructure.  National, regional and local government and funding bodies will need to work together with their communities in establishing a sustainable future for local culture. This is why I’m delighted that we are launching a new series of think pieces on the future of local, publicly funded cultural services here today.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England said: 

“I welcome this set of think pieces as an important contribution to our shared thinking about the future.  The Arts Council will work positively with those places that have received devolution, and, as a national agency we will continue our work with local authorities across the country, including those where there is no devolution deal nor a combined authority. We look forward to being part of the conversation as we move forward.”

Lord Neil Mendoza, Chair of Historic England said: 

“As DCMS Commissioner for Culture, I saw first-hand the importance culture has in the UK and how the heritage and culture sectors thrive through collective action and the power of collaboration – together, and with people and places. Creativity, culture and heritage go hand in hand to foster pride in place, connect communities and boost economic growth for vibrant places. 

“Therefore, devolution represents a significant opportunity for local culture and local communities. It represents a chance for more targeted support for places which have been starved of cultural investment and it allows investment to be shaped in ways that better reflect local need. “

Notes to editors

The authors of each think piece are:

  • Val Birchall, Immediate Past Chair, Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association.
  • Paul Bristow, Director, Strategic Partnerships and Place Policy, Arts Council England.
  • Professor Katy Shaw, Programme Director: AHRC Creative Communities and Director of University Cultural Partnerships at Northumbria University and Dr Henry Kippin, Chief Executive of the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
  • Professor Nicky Marsh, Dr Joseph Owen, and Professor Daniel Ashton, Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton.
  • Professor Michael Kenny and Owen Garling, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge.
  • Shivani Menon, Senior Researcher at UK Onward.
  • Ben Walmsley, Director and Anna Kime, Policy Officer at the Centre for Cultural Value.

The think piece series will consider:

  • What would truly place-led working look like for cultural services?
  • What are the next steps for the Arts Council England in developing its approach to place-based working with councils?
  • How has devolution in the North of Tyne supported the development of an innovative cultural sector development programme?
  • What is the potential role of qualitative data on culture in understanding lived experience and the wider opportunities it presents for place-based decision-making?
  • What role does culture play in combined authority strategies – with a particular focus on ideas of cultural infrastructure?
  • How can philanthropy support arts and culture-led regeneration projects across the country and what would allow councils and their partners to grow their philanthropic base?
  • How can we ethically and effectively fund place-based cultural activity to empower the cultural sector and the local communities they serve, with a focus on data-led policy making?