The Culture White Paper is the first of its kind to be launched in 50 years, said the Government; £40m Discover England fund to launch this year.

Ed Vaizey

The UK Government has launched a Culture White Paper – the first of its kind for 50 years – to outline its strategy for improving diversity and access in the cultural sector.

Launching the paper yesterday, culture minister Ed Vaizey said that the Government “wants to look at how we can take the arts forward”.

“At the moment we live in a society where the arts are far more pervasive than they were 50 years ago…but there’s still a lot more we can do.

“This paper is a real opportunity to set an agenda for the next ten years to put our arts and heritage at the centre of our thinking,” he added.

The paper broadly addresses four themes: access, diversity, export of Britain’s arts and heritage, and the financial resilience of arts institutions.

Vaizey said that it was important to give “real access to everyone in this country to the arts” putting particular focus on “reaching out to children from disadvantages backgrounds.”

A four-year programme will be led by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund to give wider access to the arts to 70 areas in the country where cultural participation is lowest.

On diversity, the minister acknowledged the “big debate” around the subject at the moment, saying: “We want to make sure that people who practice the arts come from every background.”

The paper states that publicly funded bodies will be required to publish strategies for increasing diversity.

Further to this, a new £40m Discover England fund will be launched with the purpose of backing “local communities who want to put culture at the heart of their local vision.”

On the topic of export, Vaizey stated that “the arts and heritage are what Britain is recognised around the world for.”

An effort to increase the UK’s cultural exports will include increased investment in programmes such as the GREAT campaign. Projects backed include the 2016 Shakespeare Lives programme.

Regarding funding, Vaizey acknowledged that there has been a “big debate about arts funding for many years now”, adding that the government “want our arts to be more resilient” in terms of their financial stability.

An effort to support this will include new investment incentives and the establishment of a Commercial Academy for Culture, which will aim to “spread commercial expertise in the cultural sectors”.

According to the BBC, Peter Bazalgette, the chairman of Arts Council England, said the paper was a “vote of confidence in the arts and cultural sector and the contribution it makes to all our lives”.

You can read the full paper here.