DCMS Committee advocates scaling up work in report on the social impact of culture 5 Jun 2019

The DCMS Select Committee has published a report ‘Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport’ following recent hearings. Its five sections consider breaking the cycle of crime, opportunities through education, improving health, including social prescribing, regenerating communities and maximising social impact. Findings include:

  • The report notes projects such as National Museums Liverpool’s House of Memories training programme, which has reached 12,000 dementia carers and delivered over £12m of social value. However, it said that ‘the full health impacts of cultural programmes are far from being reached’ and that DCMS needs to scale up work alongside the Department of Health.
  • The report revisits the long-running disagreement between Government and campaigning organisations about the effects of the Ebacc and decline of arts subjects. It concludes that “this is the area in our broad-ranging inquiry where there was the largest gap between government’s policy intentions and statements and the lived experience of organisations submitting evidence. This gap urgently needs to be closed.” It recommended DCMS should work with DfE and other departments to devise an Ofsted inspection regime which measures the amount of cultural education in schools.
  • It also notes the involvement of arts organisations during and after prison. The Roundhouse in Camden is among those offering safe spaces where people can go after release. One former prisoner described it as “the first place I came to where they didn’t care where I was from or about my past, just what I wanted to do and where I could go.”

The report concludes that during 2019, DCMS should establish and lead an inter-ministerial group on the social impact of sport and culture, and use this to reconnect departments with these issues. The Inquiry noted the frustration of many giving evidence that existing ‘mountains of research’ have not translated into co-ordinated action and a ‘perceived lack of institutional memory within Government’. DCMS therefore intends to audit work it has already funded. It also noted the short-term nature of many funding streams aimed at culture for social outcomes and said it would review the support offered by ACE and others to consider how to put future work onto a more sustainable footing. Parliament.uk (full report)