New culture secretary to promote diversity in arts

karen bradley mp

Karen Bradley MP has outlined plans to tackle diversity issues across Britain’s creative sectors in her maiden speech as Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport.

Talking at the Music Room at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in the city last week, she referenced a government survey, Taking Part, which showed the gap is widening between those who are culturally engaged and those who aren’t.

She said: ‘The gap in arts engagement between white adults and adults from a black or minority ethnic background has widened. And people with a longstanding illness or disability are significantly less engaged in the arts.

‘Small wonder that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are poorly represented in the artistic professions – or that young people from such backgrounds are less likely to play an instrument and are underrepresented at conservatoires compared to higher education in general.’

Pledging to address the issue, Bradley went on to say that her department will pilot schemes for young people and ‘expand and replicate the ones that work, and do more of what we know works already’.

Pilot schemes for 600 disadvantaged young people will roll out across September with the goal to provide fun creative experiences that build confidence and lead to permanent engagement in the arts.

The government will then look at how to incorporate these scheme into the National Citizen Service, in which more than 200,000 young people have taken part since 2011.

The initiative forms part of a Cultural Citizens Programme, which former prime minister David Cameron announced in January.

The programme is led by Arts Council England, with support from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Read the full speech.