Culture secretary sets out arts strategy in first major speech

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Culture secretary Sajid Javid has used his first major speech on the arts to call for more philanthropy in the sector and has said he will work with companies to become “active fundraisers” using the National Trust as an example.

Speaking today at music venue St George’s in Bristol, the culture secretary also said he wanted theatre tax breaks to “really deliver for the sector” and to help producers see more of their budget go into productions.

Javid used his speech to say that the arts would receive £3 billion over the course of this Parliament, but said billionaires should be putting money into the sector too.

“One of the reasons such people choose to live here is our world-beating cultural scene and there’s no reason why they can’t do more to support it,” he said.

He highlighted a couple who had donated £5 million to the Natural History Museum and added: “I want to see more of our most successful citizens and residents doing the same.”

Acknowledging how hard it can be for smaller companies to attract donors, Javid highlighted how the National Trust’s members help to support that organisation.

“Each of its members contributes a relatively small amount to supporting our heritage, but together they generate tens of millions of pounds. So I’ll be working with the sector to help smaller organisations become active fundraisers, particularly targeting those who are not currently giving to the arts,” he said.

He added that he would be “encouraging philanthropists to support culture right across the UK”.

Javid also said tax breaks announced for the theatre sector would help directors “put more of their budget on the stage and less in the pocket of the taxman”.

The culture secretary also said too many people in the UK are “culturally disenfranchised”.

Javid said more needed to be done to capture new audiences and nurture new talent and that he wanted to make the arts “accessible to everyone”.

“Never forget that every penny of taxpayer support and Lottery cash that goes to culture has been provided by hard-working people from every community in the UK,” he said.

In particular, he said people from a black or minority ethnic background were more likely to feel less engaged with the arts.

He highlighted how BME artists were awarded just 5.5% of money from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts scheme in 2013, and said: “If there’s a lack of BME artists applying for funding we have to ask ourselves why.”

The culture secretary also said that there is a “huge appetite for culture outside of the south east” and added: “We, the government, have a responsibility to make sure it’s sated.”