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Transforming the Cultural Policy and Funding Landscape

Transforming the Cultural Policy and Funding Landscape

The importance of diversity and participation

Public bodies play a key role in promoting the UK’s rich culture, relying on research to make informed decisions about funding, public policy and strategy. Professor Jonothan Neelands has contributed significantly to determining cultural policy at the highest level through the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, where his research examined the successes and failures of cultural policy.

The challenge

The audience for many cultural activities remains dominated by more privileged members of society who have access to cultural activity and education. As a result, the leadership and audiences of many creative industries remain unrepresentative of the diversity of the UK. In a climate of shrinking budgets for art and cultural education in schools, Professor Neelands’ research investigated the ways in which cultural policy could respond to these issues within the cultural sector.

Our approach

The Warwick Commission’s findings were presented by Professor Neelands to a large number of public bodies, including:

  • Arts Council England

  • Creative Industries Federation

  • Department of Culture Media and Sport

  • Manchester City Galleries

  • National Union of Teachers

  • Opera North

  • Royal Shakespeare Company

  • Sadler's Wells

  • The Sage Gateshead.

The research presented to these bodies showed the need for a place-based approach to policy and funding which would ensure a fair spread of resources, and the growth of local cultural partnerships. The Warwick Commission recommended the creation of a creative industries lobbying organisation and illustrated that public funding for the arts drives the UK economy by boosting the whole sector. Professor Neelands emphasised that greater investment in skills and creative industries could bridge current creative inequalities and the digital literacy gap.

Our impact

Professor Neelands’ work continues to impact the UK’s cultural sector.

  • The BBC’s Director General Tony Hall described the Warwick Commission’s 2015 report as “a blueprint for the continued success of arts” in the UK. The BBC and What Next? created the ‘Get Creative!’ campaign as a direct result of the report’s findings which engages the public in cultural activities that may otherwise have excluded many.

  • In a later report, Professor Neelands researched the scale of the economic benefits produced by public investment in the cultural sector which was submitted to HM Treasury and helped to protect the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s budget (DCMS) in the 2015 Spending Review. In his Commons statement, the Chancellor quoted Professor Neelands’ figures to justify this move.

  • Other parts of the report helped convince the Government not to privatise Channel 4 because of its unique cultural offer and influenced the Russell Group to remove the list of ‘facilitating subjects’ that had allowed access to many degrees, yet had excluded arts subjects.

  • More locally, Professor Neelands served as the academic lead for the successful bid to make Coventry the UK’s City of Culture 2021. Professor Neelands research has helped implement policy increasing representation within, and access to, the arts across the UK.

Read the Warwick Commission's report 'Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth'

Discover more of Professor Neelands's research projects and publications

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