National Campaign for the Arts launches new initiatives to boost public support for investment

Samuel West Samuel West
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The National Campaign for the Arts has relaunched as part of a drive to increase public support for government investment in culture.

It comes as chair Samuel West calls for efforts to be redoubled in promoting the value of culture in the UK, warning “we haven’t yet won the battle for hearts and minds”.

West told The Stage that it was important that the campaign’s reach went beyond the creative industries to change public attitudes towards the significance of the arts.

“We haven’t yet won the battle for hearts and minds when it comes to public investment in the arts. It seems obvious to us who work in the industry that affordable, widespread access to art makes life better, but at a time when every penny of public investment needs to be justified, it’s extremely important that we don’t just preach to the choir,” he said.

The campaign group, which was founded in 1985, has now relaunched its website as part of a rebrand that also includes two new campaigns.

A new campaign, Local Heroes, celebrates the role of local theatres and cultural institutions in contributing to the UK’s world-leading creative industries.

West said Local Heroes would highlight stories of people whose careers and successes started at local arts venues.

“Every theatre in the country has a ‘before they were famous’ story. Every librarian knows the novelist who used to sit at the desk in the corner, every orchestra can point to the seat where Simon Rattle used to play the triangle,” he said.

“It’s about engendering civic pride and a belief in the future, belief in our institutions, our ability to spot the stars of the future, respect for our past and a belief in the system, which works,” West added.

Details about how to make nominations are available on the new National Campaign for the Arts website. The stories will be used for a poster campaign, with hopes of creating a database, West said.

The recently launched Hearts for the Arts Awards is a new initiative to thank the local councils, councillors and council officers who have “overcome financial challenges to keep the arts at the centre of community life”.

“Councils need to be proud of the stuff they do, and we want those people who are doing that passionate defence [of the arts] to know that they are valued,” West said.

Alongside the campaigns, the new website features contributions from arts figures including actors Michael Palin and Zawe Ashton, author Hilary Mantel and artist Grayson Perry.