Arts Council England – 2020-2030 Strategy: evidence and consultation

24 October 2018

Arts Council England (ACE) is consulting on its next 10 year strategy which will run from 2020 to 2030. The strategy will guide ACE’s development, advocacy and investment (read funding) decisions.

ACE are encouraging everyone to read Shaping the next ten years which should take about 15 minutes, and respond to their questions online. They have also provided a more in detailed document – Strategy Consultation Framework Autumn 2018.

Across all their consultations ACE found those consulted ‘highlight the importance of providing access to cultural activities for children and young people’.  They also recognise in their documents that:

‘For some children, school provides their first opportunity for cultural activity. That experience can act as a “social leveller”. Without this equality of access, the gap in the levels of cultural activity that children experience widens further.’



Sitting alongside the strategy documents are a series of research reports which ACE has commissioned to support its strategy work. These include  four reports on the views of children and young people. They are interesting reads about young people’s attitudes to arts, creativity and culture, as well as offering some practical pointers about engaging with young people.



Interestingly the report opens with a note about language, saying that ACE is shifting from using ‘art’, ‘the arts’ and ‘artists’ to use instead the terms ‘culture’, ‘creativity’ and ‘creative practitioners’, as their research has shown what the general public understand by the old terms is narrower than ACE’s own definition.

‘In this document, the word “culture” should be taken to include the activity we currently support in the arts, museums and libraries; the word “creativity” refers to the act of creating culture; and the phrase “creative practitioner” covers all those who are involved in creating culture, from artists and makers through to curators and producers.’


Case for change

ACE has gathered a wide range of evidence on the value of arts and culture, and has identified issues it wants the strategy to address:

  • Across the population there are significant differences in how ‘arts and culture’ are defined, understood and valued.
  • There are still widespread socio-economic and geographic variances in levels of engagement with publicly funded culture.
  • The opportunities for children and young people to experience culture and creativity inside and outside school are not equal across the country.
  • Although awareness of the issue is greater than it used to be, there remains a persistent and widespread lack of diversity across the creative industries and in publicly funded cultural organisations.
  • The business models of publicly funded cultural organisations are often fragile and generally lack the flexibility to address emerging challenges and opportunities, especially those relating to operating within the digital economy and declining public funding.
  • Many creative practitioners and leaders of cultural organisations report a retreat from innovation, risk-taking and sustained talent development.


Outcomes to achieve by 2030

Building on the above, which they call the case for change, ACE has proposed some outcomes it would aim to achieve by 2030.

  • A nation that supports and celebrates culture and creativity of every kind
  • People from every background benefit from public investment in culture
  • Creative R&D and talent development are flourishing
  • England’s diversity is fully reflected in the organisations it supports, and in the culture they produce
  • The creative and cultural lives of all children and young people are recognised and nurtured
  • Cultural organisations are dynamic, focused on the future, and relevant
  • England continues to increase its global reputation for the quality of its creative industries


Actions linked to children and young people

Actions ACE has suggested that would sit under the outcome linked to children and young people (CYP) are:

  • Learn about and celebrate the culture and creativity of young people
  • Advocate for the development of a high quality, relevant arts curriculum that is valued by parents, carers, teachers, employers and children and young people
  • Advocate widely for the importance of creativity across the curriculum in schools – both in terms of skills development, and the health and wellbeing of children and young people
  • Create new partnerships that provide a high quality, relevant and accessible cultural offer for families with pre-school children, e.g. with early years providers, GPs, libraries, and families themselves
  • Deliver a high quality local cultural education offer through local commissioning partnerships involving a wide range of cultural and educational organisations
  • Support publicly funded cultural organisations to work closely with children
    and young people, and families and carers, to co-design cultural experiences that are relevant to them

You will notice there is a specific focus on early years as the evidence suggests this is the time where increasing access to arts and culture reaps dividends both in children’s positive outcomes and their future participation in the arts.

It is also worth noting that elements of the above aims are not within the control of ACE, unlike the majority of the sets of aims for the other outcomes. For example, work on the curriculum, or with partners such as health and sport.


Next steps

When this phase of consultation is complete ACE will further develop the outcomes and actions and share a draft strategy for consultation in Spring 2019.

Read more on ACE’s website.


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