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The cultural policy puzzle: Is cultural policy a problem or a solution for social inequality?

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Original languageEnglish
JournalIPPR Progressive Review
Issue number2
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2019


Cultural policy presents a puzzle for governments. On the one hand, arts and culture offer a wealth of positive benefits to society. On the other, arts and culture have a close relationship with a range of social inequalities. Elections are not decided on cultural policy platforms, but culture profoundly shapes how people view and experience the world. Therefore, cultural policy can be both the least and the most important area of government. Yet it remains neglected, despite this potential importance. There is a lack of serious strategic thinking in Whitehall; there are government capacity issues, particularly in the context of budget cuts to local authorities; and there is the risk that most interventions will disproportionately benefit people who are already engaged. This paper considers the benefits and problems associated with cultural policy, as well as highlighting the need for an answer to the fundamental question of what government cultural policy is for.

ID: 110119403