The government’s new Culture White Paper has just been published. Here’s my quick summary of points which seem relevant to the West Midlands, and which were not raised in the recent budget speech

* “A new cultural citizens programme [to] be led by Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund [which] will reach across 70 areas where cultural participation is lowest.” [It will be targeted at disadvantaged youth, and] will be piloted in three areas, and if successful, will grow over the next three years.”

* “every single cultural organisation that receives taxpayers’ money [will] make sure the most disadvantaged in society have greater opportunities to access culture. […] And they will report on progress made.”

* “With the introduction of the apprenticeships levy, we will expect our larger cultural organisations to take on apprentices”

* A “new £40 million Discover England fund [in which] partners work together across geographical boundaries to develop iconic tourism trails [which genuinely and measurably benefit local communities, as measured through] robust assessment”.

* A “new Great Place scheme. This scheme will back local communities who want to put culture at the heart of their local vision” [and is to be] piloted in twelve areas […] where there is a strong local partnership and a commitment to embed culture in the local authority’s plans and policies.”

* “We will support Historic England to establish new Heritage Action Zones” [probably in twelve pilot areas, and will also] “encourage councils and owners to make empty business premises available to cultural organisations on a temporary basis.”

* “encourage more schools to use the pupil premium to give their disadvantaged pupils a greater understanding of our shared culture and heritage.”

* “We will establish a new Commercial Academy for Culture to improve and spread commercial expertise in the cultural sectors.” [so, could this be based in the Midlands?]

* “We will invest a further £2 million in the Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, which will be matched by £2 million from the Wolfson Foundation.”

* “We will hold a competition in 2017 to find the next UK City of Culture for 2021, and we will commence the process to find a European Capital of Culture for 2023.” [so, could a strong but failed bid from Stoke-on-Trent be rolled over to become a bigger European one for 2023, if Sunderland were to win the City 2021 title on the grounds of economic need?]

* “ensure that the cultural sectors are able to participate in UKTI’s High Value Opportunity (HVO) programme.”

* “We will increase the amount of investment eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief, subject to [permission from the E.U.]”.

* “We will launch a new pilot scheme […] to explore the opportunities for matched crowdfunding as an innovative way of funding cultural projects and to build the evidence base [on this]”.