Commissioner quotes

Our expert commissioners gave their thoughts on local culture following the publication of Cornerstones of Culture, our final report from the Commission on Culture and Local Government.

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

“The pandemic was a powerful reminder that people reach for culture in times of crisis, as well of those of joy and celebration. Access to culture and creativity provides hope and inspiration and enriches people’s lives. That access must be fair for all.

The publication of this report is not the end of the story. I hope our findings and recommendations will help councils, regional bodies, cultural arms-length bodies and national government to work together with cultural organisations and communities to weather the latest storm and secure the future of this vital community infrastructure.”

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board 

“Culture is so important to our country, from wellbeing and a sense of place in our communities, to economic and education benefits. Local government is the biggest public funder of culture, able to target money at the activities and places that need it most.

Our report published today, concluding the excellent work of our independent commission, rightly highlights the need to prioritise this sector and provide a sustainable multi-year funding settlement to local government, along with streamlining the multiple small funding pots made available for cultural projects.”

Andrew Miller MBE, cultural consultant, broadcaster and disability campaigner               

“I welcome the LGA Culture Commission's recognition that more needs to be done to support disabled people's participation as artists, audiences and arts employees. The report highlights many of the barriers that are still in place, some exacerbated by the pandemic, which local authorities have a vital role in dismantling.” 

Bobby Seagull, maths teacher, author and TV presenter

“As a school teacher and former CILIP libraries champion, I see the value of giving young people the chance to access culture through enriching minds. Libraries stepped up during lockdown helping more people engage with online content. The British Library Business and IP Centres in libraries showed how we can support diverse entrepreneurs of the future.”

Derri Burdon, Chief Executive, Curious Minds


“I feel privileged to have been invited to contribute to the Commission on Culture. It has been timely opportunity to champion the crucial role Local Government and Local Authority Officers need to play to ensure all children and young people can access brilliant arts and culture where they live.”

Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, Historic England

“On behalf of Historic England and the wider heritage sector, I am delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in this important study, which signposts the importance of heritage in place-shaping, and the value of partnership between national agencies in the culture and heritage fields with local authorities and the communities they serve.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive, The National Lottery Heritage Fund

“Having the opportunity to hear all the different perspectives of the Commissioners and those involved in organising such a richly diverse range of cultural projects across the UK, is what struck me most about this report.  There is something here to connect everyone, whatever their background, with their own heritage and a sense of people, culture and place.”

Hasan Bakhshi MBE, Director of the AHRC-funded Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre   

“Local investment in culture is best seen as a network phenomenon, with local authorities the central node: connecting, convening and coordinating. As new funding sources from central government like levelling up come onstream, it is essential that they are designed in such a way that they support local authorities in carrying out this vital role.”

Professor Katy Shaw, Professor of 21st-century writing and publishing at Northumbria University, UK and Director of the UKRI/AHRC Creative Communities programme

“From Cornwall to Carlisle, the diversity and creativity of the communities we have heard from across the Commission evidence has been inspiring and moving. Our report makes clear asks to activate its evidence base for future policy making: the value of culture does not begin and end at the economic. When we invest in culture we invest in ourselves. We look forward to sharing the report across the country in 2023 through a series of nationwide roadshows.”

Nathan Gearing, Chief Executive, Rationale Method  

“This entire process has clearly highlighted the vast amount of great initiatives being implemented across the country that centre the people at the heart of their decision making processes. This is definitely something that can be built on and I am excited to see the recommendations of this report being carried out. This will in turn no doubt lead to a positive impact on culture both locally and nationally.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England  

“The strength of England’s cultural life can be seen in every community, and local government leadership is vital to help everyone have a fulfilling creative life.  Local councils are some of the Arts Council’s most important partners.  I’m delighted to have been a member of this Commission, alongside a diverse range of voices whose insights and expertise will help shape the future of the arts, museums and libraries across the country.” 

Cllr Peter Golds CBE, Deputy Chair of LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board

“I have been impressed by the connections between culture and health and wellbeing highlighted by the Commission. Local authorities are working to integrate services to ensure health and wellbeing, particularly as we emerge from the effects of Covid. Culture, in all its forms, is a vital part of a healthy society and the Commission has identified a number of ways of supporting this.” 

Petra Roberts, Strategic Service Head for Culture, Heritage, and Libraries at Hackney Council

“A long recession looms, people are choosing whether to heat or eat and the devastating after-effects of Covid are felt by many. In these most challenging times, the cultural sector must look outward and share knowledge and experience across organisations, champion its cause together, and support and collaborate to deliver the greatest possible impact now and in the future.”

Samantha Richardson, Academy Director, National Coastal Tourism Academy

“Culture is a critical part of the visitor economy, shaping our places and defining our unique qualities of each place. The recommendations in this report have a pivotal role in addressing the very issues that have stifled economic and creative growth for coastal communities, namely making culture accessible to all, providing a pathway to employment and highlighting the health benefits of the sector. Acting on these recommendations would create a sea-change in the opportunities for this and future generations and presents an opportunity to be seized.”

Val Birchall, Past Chair of the Cultural and Leisure Officers Association

“The range and depth of the Commission's work has been impressive, and truly demonstrates how publicly funded culture can improve the lives of people living in very different circumstances. The recommendations will strengthen the sector and equip it to take a central role in place-led development so that it continues to make a real difference to people and communities in a turbulent and uncertain future.”

Veda Harrison, Director of Creative Confident Communities/ A Fairer Future at the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

“As a funder of the arts and cultural sector for many years, I was keen to ensure Esmée Fairbairn contributed to this work. It has been a fantastic experience working with sector experts and hearing from inspiring leaders of arts and culture across the country. Arts and culture have always been the driving force behind social, economic and community change and this report highlights the important ways it can continue to do so in our current uncertain times, and create a more equitable future.”