A copy of Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries' letter to NPOs on December 15, 2021.
I am writing firstly to thank you for all the important cultural and artistic work you have undertaken, and continue to undertake, as part of the current National Portfolio. The last 21 months have presented unprecedented challenges for culture in this country, and I remain hugely impressed by the adaptability and resilience the sector has shown.
As the new Secretary of State for Culture, I am also writing to reaffirm my commitment to ensuring this country’s world-class cultural offer is open to all. This was the basis of the case I made to the Treasury at the recent Spending Review concerning Arts Council’s budget. This will mean that more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds can experience life-changing cultural experiences - as I did when I visited the Liverpool Everyman theatre for the first time as a child.
This government’s commitment to increasing access to culture is about supporting the cultural sector to broaden its audience, but also about ensuring that there are routes into the cultural sector for people from every background. I see this as not just about workforces, but about ensuring that the leadership teams and Boards of cultural organisations become increasingly diverse. The forms of diversity captured through Equality Act protected characteristics are very important; alongside these, I believe diversity of class and socio-economic background are also important.
As a National Portfolio Organisation, directly funded by the public, you are of course critical to achieving this and challenging the culture sector to be even more ambitious; building on success and overcoming remaining barriers. I have therefore requested that the Arts Council request data on the socio-economic background of audiences, workforce and boards for each National Portfolio Organisation for 2022/23 - and this form of data reporting will become mandatory for those selected to be part of the new National Portfolio from April 2023.
I know many of you are already engaged in a variety of initiatives to support under-represented groups, and I have already commissioned my officials to work with ACE to develop a more in depth understanding on the impact of existing initiatives across your sectors and where we can collectively go further.
I have also asked Arts Council to consider the track record of organisations in access closely when considering applications for funding - and to work with the organisations they fund to ensure that further progress is made in this area - building on the excellent work that already takes place.
I look forward to seeing further progress on widening access, and would welcome any suggestions in writing that you have about how DCMS can support that objective.
Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport