Andrew | 16 Mar 2010, 16:22
C&binet comment: Margaret Hodge, Culture Minister, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Last week was a big week for opportunity in the creative industries. On Monday afternoon I was at Number 10 to launch a £600K Creative Bursaries Scheme with the Prime Minister and a quartet of Billy Elliots. Then on Tuesday I kick-started the seminar at Tate Modern on digital access that I mentioned in my last blog.
Our Creative Bursaries scheme is designed to open up equal opportunities to young people from low income backgrounds to succeed in jobs in the arts. Too many young people who manage to graduate from a conservatoire, a drama college, or an art school then find they haven’t got the contacts or the money to break through into a successful career. This scheme, administered by Jerwood, will guarantee them an income at the rate of £15,000 for up to a year, and a placement with our best orchestras, dance companies or theatres. It’s a Billy Elliot opportunity for graduates.
I also want to see better digital access become the next iconic moment for UK culture. Bringing in free admission a decade ago opened the doors of our national museums to a much wider audience. Greater digital freedom has the potential to tear down new walls, and bring in new audiences.
My thanks go out to all the people who came to critique and comment on Jonathan Drori’s digital access draft paper – it was uplifting to hear from so many people so knowledgeable and so energised by the possibilities. We’ll publish the finalised paper as soon as all the feedback from Tuesday’s event has been digested.
For me, trust came out as the common thread. Spencer Hyman urged cultural bodies to ‘share the love’ – to trust the online community with cultural content, to trial it, and share their experiences and recommendations friend to friend.
Nick Poole of the Collections Trust consigned the old business model based on content transactions to history and urged trust in social capital.
Jane Finnis of Culture24 urged publicly funded cultural organisations to trust each other with their market research.
The current and widespread public suspicion of authority figures, including experts, was raised by Christine Wall, and she spoke about how this initiated a change of attitude at English Heritage, from asking the public to trust them, to asking themselves to trust the public.
Lynne Brindley pointed out that the public already expects the British Library to be online, and offered practical advice on how public cultural collections can work profitably with private sector partners (‘You can do business with Google!’) to the advantage of both. It’s possible, in Lynne’s view, to use digitisation to enhance revenue, reach and reputation, and the British Library are in the process of drawing up guidelines based on their experience.
I had to leave, reluctantly, at the point when the delegates broke out into groups to dissect the paper – but the outcome of those discussions and the pledges for progress made will be published shortly at culture.gov.uk. I’ll let you know when.
Finally, I encourage all of you who have ambitions to develop new ‘apps’ or to do business with those that can, to attend Rewired Culture, which DCMS is hosting on 27 March.