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Former Shadow Minister for International Development says it is an 'unbelievable privilege' to become Culture Secretary.

Lisa Nandy meeting members of staff at DCMS
Nandy previously worked for a charity that campaigns to improve outcomes for young people


Following her appointment as Culture Secretary by Prime Minister Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy has spoken of her delight at being handed the role, vowing to get to work immediately.

Arriving at the department's Parliament Street offices in London on Friday afternoon (5 July) alongside senior civil servants including DCMS Permanent Secretary Susannah Storey, Nandy was greeted by DCMS staff with smiles and applause.

In a statement she said it is an "unbelievable privilege" to take on the role.


"From rugby league to Royal Opera, our cultural and sporting heritage runs through our towns, villages and cities and is one of our country’s greatest assets," she said.

A statement issued by DCMS said: "On Friday [5 July] we welcomed [Lisa Nandy] to DCMS as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport - supporting our nation’s wealth of talent to shape our cultural landscape, nurturing the arts and creating opportunities in the creative industries, media and sport for all people, in every corner of the country."

The appointment comes after Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire, a former professional cellist who had spoken at length about her plans for the arts sector, lost her bid to win the parliamentary seat of Bristol Central losing sizeably to Green Party co-Leader Carla Denyer.

Nandy entered parliament in 2010 after five years as a policy adviser for the Children's Society - a charity that campaigns to improve outcomes for young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect. Since then she has worked in a series of shadow cabinet roles in housing, foreign and commonwealth affairs, energy and climate change and most recently international development.

Arts funding

While she has no direct experience working in arts and culture she has spoken on a number of occasions on issues affecting the sector.

During a debate on regional arts and culture funding in 2017 she urged greater investment in the country's cultural institutions, highlighting central-government imposed cuts to local authorities and their knock-on impact on the sector - a situation that has worsened in recent years.

"I very much welcome the Arts Council’s decision to increase funding outside London, but the Minister must be aware that many brilliant institutions such as [Manchester's] People’s History Museum are primarily dependent on local authorities for funding," she said.

"Will he consider following the Arts Council’s lead and give us back some of the money that has been slashed from local authority budgets, so that we can start to fund again some of this country’s most innovative cultural institutions?"

Her voting record shows that she has consistently voted against reducing central government funding of local government.

She also quizzed the former Conservative government last year on its repatriation policy, citing the example of the Maqdala Crown and treasures - which were taken by the British Army during the 1868 Abyssinian Expedition and are now held across several British cultural collections including the British Museum and the V&A.

Gender debate

Nandy has also spoken extensively on the ongoing gender debate. During an interview with Piers Morgan in March 2020 when she was running to become Labour leader following the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn, she said she had sympathy with both sides of the argument.

"There's a basic inherent question of how you treat people properly in this country," she said. 

"I represent domestic violence victims who feel very, very strongly the need for safe spaces in this country and I represent trans people who also are amongst some of the most discriminated against people in this country. 

"I will not allow this to become a zero sum battle between two groups of people who deserve support."

In her first speech as Culture Secretary, delivered to staff at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) earlier this week, she said "the era of culture wars is over".

“For too long, for too many people, the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves as a nation, has not reflected them, their communities or their lives,” Nandy said.

“This is how polarisation, division and isolation thrives. In recent years we’ve found multiple ways to divide ourselves from one another. And lost that sense of a self-confident, outward-looking country which values its own people in every part of the UK.

“Changing that is the mission of this department. The era of culture wars is over.”

She added: “Working with you all to achieve that will be the privilege of my life. I’ll be asking more of you than ever before. But I promise you that if you give it your all, I will always have your back.”

Nandy is the 13th Culture Secretary since 2010, succeeding Conservative Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer.