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New Arts Minister Matt Hancock stressed the sector’s “special responsibility” to promote social mobility in his first major speech to the arts today.

Photo of Matt Hancock giving his speech

Rosa Carbo-Mascarell / Creative Industries Federation

The arts and the creative industries must be held to a “higher standard” than the rest of the private sector on diversity, Arts Minister Matt Hancock said today.

In his first keynote speech, he also emphasised the importance of digital technology in maintaining the culture sector’s “immense” and “essential” role in the UK economy.

A special responsibility

The minister was speaking at the British Film Institute as part of a meet and greet event organised by the Creative Industries Federation.

He said that the Government must “drive open diversity”, and no one – regardless of their accent, gender or postcode – should be excluded from any of the creative industries.

“In recent years we’ve learnt many important lessons about how to improve diversity in elite institutions, from mentoring to name-blind recruitment and targeted campaigns,” he said.

“We are ready to help you apply them in your own industries. And I make no apology for holding you to a higher standard than the rest of the private sector.

“You have a special responsibility to be a force for openness and social mobility in Britain.”

Digital culture

Alongside a focus on cultural diversity, the Minister praised the impact of technology such as live-streaming in widening access to the arts by bringing West End shows “to audiences nationwide”.

He also shared the example of taxi firm Uber’s ‘dynamic pricing’ model, which will be used in the West End to respond to consumer demand in real time, and of the positive benefits of digitising museum collections.

“Our aim is to have not only the best content in the world, but also the best digital platforms on which to display it,” he added.

Changing times

This was Hancock’s first major speech to the arts sector since he replaced Ed Vaizey as Minister for the Digital Economy and Culture in July.

John Kampfner, Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “It was hugely encouraging to hear his promise to fight for the creative and digital industries and place them at the heart of Government.

“Like us, he recognises the enormous contribution this sector makes to the economic success of this country and to Britain’s global reputation. We look forward to working together.”