So there I was looking for a door, a way back into the tent. Three children in four years and moving out of London had, I believed, not helped my career in the cultural sector. Nor had my anger at what I believed to be a privileged elite. So I had decided to stop being angry and bitter and start being creative and artistic again - hence Omidaze Productions which in turn led me to the Clore Leadership Programme and so many doors opening I couldn’t physically go through them all quick enough. I understand now that I am, and always have been, one of the privileged ones. Not because of money (working class one of six from an Irish immigrant family). But because of the access I have had to art, culture and education.
So here is my blog about my most extraordinary Clore year starting with my interview presentation that helped get me my fellowship on the subject of:
As government minister responsible for culture, what agenda will you set for the next 5 years:-
Vision To end for once and for all the debate around Arts & Culture and economic good sense. I do not require our cultural industries to, and I quote, “hammer home their value to the economy”. This government and this minister accepts without question that, far from being a drain on public spending, the arts & Culture related industries are a proven boon to the UK economy and productivity in general. Investment in culture is proven to result in increased:
- Income levels from tourism
- Regeneration in our towns & cities
- Turnover in Arts & Culture activities
- Employment figures
But more than this, much more than this are the invisible and unquantifiable amount saved by other government departments and the UK taxpayer generally as a direct result of Arts & Culture activities made possible by our investment. How do we measure the impact on society every time someone visits a Museum, gallery or Library? How do you measure the financial impact on the growth of the local economy of the rep season of the local theatre? You measure it by asking those who have access to Art & Culture from birth why they bother hanging art on their walls, lining their shelves with books, placing sculpture in their homes and spending time at the ballet, opera or theatre. Those who ‘have’ in our society are the cultural elitists who can buy culture whenever they want and then demand a quantifiable ROI on the investment in culture for the many and not just for the few. Here is that ROI.
You measure it through analysis of cost savings on law and order in the form of policing, prison places, the judicial system and social security because access to culture
- raises expectation
- creates social engagement & social responsibility
- builds relationships and communities
- and creates jobs
You can measure it in savings to the Department of Health every time an awareness raising issue based piece of theatre is performed in a school.
You can measure it through savings to the Dept. for Education every time a child sets foot in a library, museum or art gallery.
GB is great as the Olympics opening ceremony showed because we are rich in our culture and in our care of each other. We have much to be proud of.
Therefore I intend in the next 5 years to not cut spending on Culture.
I intend also not to freeze spending on culture.
I intend to incrementally increase spending on culture in the next 5 years.
I am not in denial.
I know we are in an economic crisis.
But the way we allow that economic crisis to impact on cultural investment now will affect generations for years to come.
Therefore my agenda for the next 5 years put increased investment as a priority since this agenda is for the generations to come who are still in F/T education. Who will not have the vote for perhaps another 10 years or even more. I am not in denial.
I know as a country we are all having to tighten our belts. I know that simply putting food on the table can be a struggle for many and not just a few. I understand that every £1 spent on culture at the moment may seem like an unaffordable luxury. I understand that personally coming from a working class Irish economic immigrant background where my mother was one of 10 and I am one of 6 and now have 3 children of my own. But I was taught that you also need food for your soul. I was taught that you have to have a long-term view for a situation to improve and that you have to take risks to create change and opportunities. My grandfather took a risk and invested in the future of not only his children but his children and his great grandchildren when he packed as many belongings as he could into all the suitcases they could carry and left everything else behind to start a new life in Britain. It was worth the risk and the investment. I know. I am standing here today as living proof.
Ask any successful business person and they will tell you to invest in the areas of the business which will create the most growth and long-term wins for that business. To allow blue sky thinking. To think creatively about your business. If Britain is a business. Our cultural industries are our blue sky thinking.
Therefore we will increase spending and we will achieve this in 2 ways:
1) Working with the Cabinet Office and colleagues across government such as depts. for
- Business innovation & skills
- Communities & Local government
- Work & Pensions
In order to maximise funds available for culture since cultural activities have a direct impact on their activities.
2) Greater administrative cost accountability and transparency at all levels of central and local government and in all areas of publicly funded cultural activities. We will look to successful non-subsidised models such as the globe theatre & non-funded museums & galleries to help find ways to streamline the subsidised ones in terms of efficiency.
Our increase in departmental total expenditure from £1,656 million in 2011/12 to approx £2 million by 2020 means that all existing publicly funded cultural organisations will have a fixed time period to implement current visions, grow, stabilise, reflect and explore and take risks in order to create future visions from a position of stability.
In return for this increase all aforementioned organisations will prioritise the following agenda:
Education - We will prioritise greater cultural access throughout the UK. it is not enough that our museums and galleries have free entry when the majority of them are in Central London. They need to take their resources to the public- specifically into schools, colleges and Universities. Museums and Galleries and libraries will have increased investment but in return they must increase their existing work which takes place beyond the doors of their buildings. We want cultural activities on everyone’s doorstep not just for those in Inner City London. This is beginning to happen through our theatres such as the RSC with their Education and Outreach work across the UK and The National Theatre’s NT Live programme who are leading the way but this is just the tip of what is possible and achievable by these organisations and must be supported.
Equality - We want a 50% gender split of leadership roles within all UK cultural organisations and will consider the enforcement of quotas to achieve this by 2025. We want an increase by 50% of the representation of ethnic minorities in leadership & management positions within the cultural sector by 2020.
Accountability - Every penny counts. We will ensure greater transparency and accountability in all publicly funded cultural organisations and will put in place regular audit teams.
Collaboration - communication and collaboration is key. We will prioritise collaboration between publicly funded cultural organisations to ensure efficiency, skills sharing, administrative streamlining and leadership & management training and transparent succession planning.
- Culture & The Arts no longer needs to defend it’s vital role within our society and our economy
- We will increase departmental spending over the next 5 years
- We will use other departmental budgets and savings through administration to cover this
- We will prioritise access to culture through our educational institutions
- We will prioritise equality in management and leadership positions within the sector
- We will prioritise and maximise accountability and transparency
- We will prioritise communication and collaboration between all publicly funded UK cultural organisations
Thank you for Listening.