Countries of culture enquiry - Dr Lisanne Gibson defends funding to the regions

Early in May, the School’s Dr Lisanne Gibson appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture Media & Sport to offer expert insight into some of the key issues facing the cultural industries.  Commenting on the Government’s Culture White Paper 2016, Lisanne and co-investigator Dr Abigail Gilmore referenced the emerging findings from their work on the AHRC project ‘Understanding everyday participation – articulating cultural values’.  They identified key issues, such as an imbalance of governmental funding allocated to the cultural sector at a regional level, with London receiving more funding than the rest of the UK combined, and funding disparities resulting in the wealthiest and most educated benefiting most from subsidised cultural activities. 

Lisanne said “The Government’s Culture White Paper (2016) while laudable in its focus on participation is disappointing in that it remains focused on the status quo, that is, supporting culture that is already (and has always been) funded rather on focusing on funding innovation in cultural practice designing to support what a larger majority of people actually want to do in their spare time.”

The academics recommended that in order to redress this imbalance, the government should introduce a cultural strategy which focuses on local communities and enable local stakeholders to influence policy.  Furthermore introducing a tourism tax on hotel stays in London would help to fund broader regional cultural enterprises, and charging entrance fees for international tourists to London museums and cultural events would help to subsidise regional cultural activities.  

The researchers also identified a number of other challenges facing the cultural sector, including: a decline in British students in the UK studying to become culture and heritage practitioners, a lack of jobs in the UK cultural sector broadly, and a lack of diversity in the cultural and creative industry workforce, made worse by the frequent entry level requirement to volunteer or work for free.

Watch Dr Gibson’s appearance at the Parliamentary Select Committee.