South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Arts Council England's 2020-30 strategy aims for 'better balance of investment across the country'

Arts Council England has launched its 2020-30 strategy, with an emphasis on empowering communities to develop culture in their areas, and an ambition for a better balance of investment geographically and socioeconomically.

The strategy, launched this week, details the importance of museums and libraries, and collaboration between different areas of the cultural sector in helping villages, towns and cities thrive. It states:

"Museums are centres for knowledge and cultural participation. They work with local communities to create understanding of people and places. Libraries reach audiences from all backgrounds and of all ages, and provide meeting places, maker spaces, and focal points for creative and cultural activity within local communities, in conjunction with their delivery of four national Universal Offers (reading, health and wellbeing, digital and information, and culture and creativity). We will support local cultural organisations, including libraries, museums, Music Education Hubs and arts organisations, to develop a better understanding of the needs and interests of their communities, and to use that intelligence for the measurable benefit of those communities."

The strategy promises to address historic imbalances, including the geographic spread of support, and says:

"People should have access to a full range of cultural opportunities wherever they live – but these opportunities are currently uneven, particularly for those living in towns or rural areas, where public transport is often either unavailable or expensive. We will aim for a better balance of investment across the country and will work with the right partners on a range of projects, including capital investment in physical and digital infrastructure and the use of technology to distribute cultural content into homes, cultural venues and community spaces. "

It goes on to state that in making investments, Arts Council England will consider 'how well proposals contribute to achieving a good balance of activity across the country and across disciplines (including artforms, museums and libraries)'. The strategy also commits to greater investment in libraries and to increasing public access to museum collections, stating:

"We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across this country. They are the country’s most widespread and well-used cultural spaces, sitting at the heart of communities and often providing the first point of access to cultural activity. They help to build stronger, happier communities, support social prescribing, develop readers and promote digital literacy. They will be central to our delivery of this strategy, and over the next 10 years we will increase our investment in them..."

"...A dynamic museums sector will be at the heart of this Strategy: over the next 10 years, alongside our statutory functions, we will go on expanding public access to their collections, to ensure that they continue to delight and inspire as many people as possible."

The strategy includes three outcomes:

  1. CREATIVE PEOPLE: Everyone can develop and express creativity throughout their life
  2. CULTURAL COMMUNITIES: Villages, towns and cities thrive through a collaborative approach to culture
  3. A CREATIVE & CULTURAL COUNTRY: England’s cultural sector is innovative, collaborative and international

and four investment principles:

  1. AMBITION & QUALITY: Cultural organisations are ambitious and committed to improving the quality of their work
  2. DYNAMISM: Cultural organisations are dynamic and able to respond to the challenges of the next decade
  3. ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Cultural organisations lead the way in their approach to environmental responsibility
  4. INCLUSIVITY & RELEVANCE: England’s diversity is fully reflected in the organisations and individuals that we support and in the culture they produce

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: "[It is vital] for the Arts Council to invest in the creativity and cultural ambitions of people in towns such as Ashington as it is to ensure that London is a capital city that continues to stand as a cultural beacon on the world stage. The vision of this Strategy, therefore, is of a country in which the creativity of everyone living here is celebrated and supported: in which culture forms and transforms communities, and in which cultural institutions are inclusive of all of us, so that whoever we are and wherever we live, we can share in their benefits."

To read the full strategy, visit the Arts Council England's website here: