New cultural taskforce risks losing local voice

The Local Government Association has warned that excluding councils from the newly created Cultural Renewal Taskforce removes the local voice on cultural renewal.

Following the publication of the government’s National COVID-19 Recovery Strategy to help rebuild Britain, ministers are setting up a taskforce to help get the country’s recreation and leisure sector back up and running.

However, the Local Government Association said the taskforce has removed a local voice on cultural renewal by failing to include councils or the LGA. With councils spending over £1.1 billion on museums, theatres and libraries, as well as investing over £1 billion a year on sport, leisure and green spaces, it is crucial that their views are represented when the government plans to reopen the sector.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Councils’ run over 3,000 libraries, and more than 350 museums, public archives, numerous theatres and galleries, and are responsible for many monuments and historic buildings. They are the only organisations whose responsibilities and expertise cover the entire DCMS agenda and the responsibilities of the Taskforce.

“Their contribution to the country’s public recreation and leisure offering will be crucial to the economic recovery following the coronavirus pandemic. It is hugely disappointing that councils have not been invited to be represented on the Taskforce and removes the local voice on cultural renewal. National ambitions cannot be delivered without giving councils a place on the taskforce and ensuring that plans are grounded in reality.”

The Taskforce includes representatives predominantly based in London from Arts Council England, the English National Ballet, the Ambassador Theatre Group, and Sports Broadcaster Alex Scott.