The DCMS is seeking to draw the Government’s attention to culture’s impact on education, health and diversity, and create a new ‘joined up’ strategy.

Photo of woman in museum

Is sport better for social mobility than the arts? And how does work by museums and galleries impact on crime and education?

These are two questions set to be investigated by Parliament, which has launched an inquiry into the social impact of participation in culture.

Coordinated by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the panel of MPs will focus on social mobility, health, education, community engagement, diversity, crime reduction, and potentially the legacy of the Olympics.

The Committee notes there is no single cross-Government strategy of support for such work, and is calling for case studies of success from any person or organisation with relevant expertise, addressing a series of key questions:

  • Which programmes best demonstrate the positive social impact that participating in sport and culture can have on the five central themes of this inquiry?
  • How can access to cultural and sporting professions be improved to enable greater diversity? How can the Government build a pipeline of talent?
  • Why has the Government not co-ordinated its efforts more effectively?
  • Where are the examples of departmental best practice and how could it be shared?
  • How can museums, galleries and other cultural venues boost access and social impact?

“Often projects are delivered in isolation rather than in partnership with public bodies which could extend their reach and influence,” a parliamentary spokesperson said.

“The inquiry would seek to draw the Government’s attention to the importance of these activities and ‘join up’ current separated departmental efforts.”

Select committees

The new inquiry’s focus on health and community engagement echoes work by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, which spent two years assessing the impact of dance classes, and other arts interventions on healthcare. It concluded that the arts can help the health service save money, and urged the Government to develop a cross-departmental arts in health strategy.

The window for submissions will close on 22 February.