A report backed by some of the leading figures in UK art and culture today called for the creation of a cultural ‘Digital Public Space’ which would be ‘free from political and commercial interference and created solely for the public good’.
Such an online area would aim to ensure all publicly funded creative content ‘be made easily discoverable and available to the public’. Once the commercial value of any such content was felt to have passed it would then be available for free, ensuring cultural content doesn’t disappear as today’s digital technology and websites evolve or are superseded. It would also address concerns the report’s authors have about the influence that an ‘over-reliance on the large commercial search engines’ can have on the visibility of content.
The proposal was one of the recommendations of Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth, produced by the Warwick Commission (part of the University of Warwick) and launched today following two years of preparation. It was chaired by Vikki Heywood (chairman of the RSA), and its commissioners included Sir Peter Bazalgette (chairman of Arts Council England), Darren Henley (Managing Director of Classic FM and the new Chief Executive of the Arts Council) and Sir Nicholas Serota (Director of the Tate).
The overall report argues for a greater understanding of, and more support for, what it describes as the ‘ecosystem’ uniting the UK’s cultural sectors and creative industries. At the launch, it was suggested it could be seen as a ‘score-card’ by which the next government could be judged.
Among the other recommendations are that the government departments for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), and Education (DfE) produce a national plan for the publicly funded arts, culture and heritage sector. As things currently stand, the report’s authors argue, ‘the lack of joined up policy making is limiting participation and not realising the full value of public investment’.
The report also looked at levels of access and participation in the arts, concluding that they ‘still comprehensively fail to reflect the rich diversity of our population.’ It also called for changes in education, including that an arts or media subject should form part of the English Baccalaureate, and that no school should be designated ‘outstanding’ without evidence of an excellent cultural and creative education.
The full report can be found here: Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth