Maria Miller sets direction of travel: ‘To hammer home the value of culture to our economy’

- 24 April 2013

Maria Miller: ‘We should value the arts for their own sake … but in these tough economic times, we need to make a broader case.’

Culture secretary Maria Miller wants arts organisations to support her in making the case for cultural investment prior to June’s comprehensive spending review ‒ by helping ‘to hammer home the value of culture to our economy’.

‘Given that the global appeal of our creative industries is worth some £36 billion to our economy, it is essential that the underpinning role that culture plays is properly understood,’ she said.

‘Faced with a crippling budget deficit, there are big choices to be made at both a national and a local level, few of which are easy, or palatable.’

‘We should value the arts for their own sake. We should, and as a country we do but, now, in these tough economic times, we need to make a broader case.’

Miller was speaking this morning to an audience of arts leaders at the British Museum.

The speech highlights ‒ if it were necessary ‒ the political climate against notions of ‘art for art’s sake’.

‘Understanding the economic potential which the arts and culture offer both directly and indirectly is essential,’ said Miller, citing the National Theatre’s War Horse, the RSC’s Matilda and Bond film Skyfall as British productions which have attained commercial success worldwide.

‘The obvious value of such enterprises suggest we should be bold in encouraging new thinking, be ready to challenge the perceived status quo, and we should leverage the value of our cultural sector to keep the UK at the forefront of creative and economic innovation.’

Culture does not ‘simply have a role to play’ in bringing about a return to growth, she said. ‘Rather, it should be central to these efforts.’

‘British culture is perhaps the most powerful and most compelling product we have available to us. The most compelling platform upon which we can stand.’

Miller also restated the value of philanthropy as ‘a crucial part of a long-term strategy’.

‘Let me reassure you here and now that no-one considers philanthropy a panacea, a silver bullet or a magic wand. It is not seen as a substitute for government support ‒ but it is complementary.’

‘The Government is committed to a mixed economy model where targeted public funding will stimulate money from other sources, whether that is philanthropy or commercially generated.’

Summing up, she said:

‘My call to you as arts and cultural leaders then is simple. I ask you:

  • to continue to build resilience, self-confidence and self-reliance;
  • to seek out new artistic and commercial opportunities;
  • to position yourself squarely within the visitor economy;
  • and to look for international opportunities which will benefit Britain

For my part, I will continue to fight our corner in Cabinet. I will position the arts not as on the periphery, but at the centre of economic growth and in that endeavour I ask for both your support and your ambition.’

The culture secretary also revealed a campaign which motivated her when taking over the portfolio from Jeremy Hunt in 2012. ‘You will all have seen the Great campaign which was launched last year… Heritage is Great… Creativity is Great… Innovation is Great. All these themes market Britain to the rest of the world as precisely what we are &#8210 Great.

‘But when I started this job one theme particularly caught my eye ‒ Culture is Great.’

Full transcript available here.


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