Concern over 'narrow demographic' accessing arts

Concern over 'narrow demographic' accessing arts

Not enough is being done in the UK to “stimulate or realise the creative potential of individuals”, with publicly-funded creative arts reaching a narrow section of people, the 2015 report by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value has said.

There is “low cultural and social diversity” among audiences, consumers and the creative workforce, which “remains a key challenge for future success”.

The report, which examines the creative arts sector, said: “We are particularly concerned that publicly funded arts, culture and heritage, supported by tax and lottery revenues, are predominantly accessed by an unnecessarily narrow social, economic, ethnic and educated demographic that is not fully representative of the UK’s population.”

It said the “voices, experiences and talents of the UK’s population as a whole are not being expressed, represented or developed within the Cultural and Creative Industries”, which has both social and economic consequences.

“It means that too few of the population have access to as rich a culturally expressive life as might otherwise be open to them," the report said. “At the same time, limited access to the means of creative expression, especially at professional levels, hinders the broadening of the potential market for, as well as the supply of, cultural and creative experiences, and this diminishes the potential for cultural and creative growth.”

The report also highlighted the decrease in the use of libraries, a trend which “can in part be explained with the closure of possibly as many as 272 libraries across the country between 2010 and 2013 as a result of austerity-driven cuts to local authorities’ budgets”.

“The Commission welcomes the recent Independent Library Report with its recommendations to boost engagement with the digital as well as the traditional resources offered by our libraries,” the report said.

The commission, made up of figures including The British Library’s chief executive Roly Keating, said its aims was to craft a “blueprint for greater cultural and creative success – towards a national plan for how culture and creativity can further enrich Britain”.

Vikki Heywood, chairman of the commission, said: “The key message from this report is that the government and the Cultural and Creative Industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.”

The report also found that there “are major concerns that the educational system is not focusing on the future needs of the Cultural and Creative Industries and the broader needs for innovation and growth in the UK”.

It said that there is a “general agreement within the Cultural and Creative Industries and industry more broadly that the government’s focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) should include the arts (STEAM)”.

Keating said: “The Warwick Commission has provided a rare chance to look at the UK’s cultural life in the round – to examine what it takes to nurture a healthy system for everyone, not just a set of individual institutions or industries.

“The process itself has been thoughtful and creative, with memorable provocations that have actively advanced the debate in public. I look forward to the debates the commission’s report is certain to stimulate.”