SoA Welcomes White Paper on Culture

24 March 2016

We welcome the publication of the Government’s White Paper on Culture, the first in over 50 years. The SoA was one of the bodies which contributed to the consultation.

We are pleased to see that the white paper recognises that culture has a huge intrinsic value as well as an economic worth. We are also glad that the document underlines the impact of ‘soft power’:

The UK is a leader in soft power. We are respected for our strong and stable democracy, our belief in individual liberty, our diversity and our freedom of expression. Our culture celebrates these values.

Our submission noted the need for increased diversity and access for all. This is one of the key points in the white paper:

The government expects the cultural sectors to represent our diverse society in their artistic talent, workforce and audiences. Diversity is essential to success.

We would add that a diverse culture needs diverse creators and remuneration underpins diversity. To create a strong culture people of all types and from all backgrounds must be able to pursue a creative career with proper remuneration. Entry level encouragement alone is not sufficient.

This leads on to a broader point we made in our recommendations: culture relies on creators. Many of the issues on which we are currently campaigning – for instance fair contracts, protecting copyright and a fair system for tax and benefits – are central to ensuring that authors are valued, rewarded and supported.

The white paper also states that ‘Formal education should be complemented by quality cultural experiences.’ We agree and believe that education must teach children to enjoy culture and value creators.

In order for schools to promote reading as a cornerstone of the nation’s cultural life, schools must promote reading for pleasure as well as meeting literacy standards. A creative curriculum and teacher training should be complemented by author visits and school libraries – which should be made statutory.

We look forward to working with the department on the details needed to bring about the vision of a broad and diverse culture for all.