5. Does a National Model Exist?
A National Example
The summary of the literature was undertaken to highlight important cultural policy issues and themes. The last part of this section seeks to identify a national government and cultural policy initiative that encompasses or addresses these global social and economic trends and translates them into local initiatives and projects. What country has taken action and launched initiatives to address these dramatic shifts under way? What country has developed an open source cultural policy experiment to test, analyze, rewrite and re-launch on a continual basis?
In May 1997 the government of the United Kingdom and Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, started a cultural policy initiative with the hope of answering a simple question. In an effort to move traditional cultural policy away from the historic and preservation duties of times past toward a new and dynamic future he launched a policy initiative with the aim of understanding, “the key features of a creative nation, why this should in any case be of any importance to individual citizens, and what – if anything – a government can do to help.”
Demonstrating a deep awareness of global shifts in economics and labour, the government was clear of the direction of the initiative and the reasons for launching a new cultural policy experiment. “No government can stand idly by and ignore the potential this has to uplift people’s hearts and at the same time to draw in a major economic return to the country.”
The role for government was limited but important, “government alone cannot itself forge the creative impulse,” the Secretary of State said. “What it can do is try to nurture it, encourage it, aid its expression, help it achieve maximum impact, and assist society at large in the understanding and appreciation of what is created.”
For any creative policy experiment to work the role of the individual was vital, he said. “That (creative) impulse that springs from deep wells helps not only to put our stamp as a generation on the views of history. It also helps to understand who and what we are, in the here and now, to capture that elusive sense of identity that us, either as individuals or as a nation, a sense of our place and purpose in the world.”
To achieve this the UK set out to restructure its cultural policy to stimulate and grow the creative economy. The new policy and structure of the government would first focus on access, excellence, education and economic value.
For the first time ever a country was reaching across traditional departments of government and trade. It was creating links between social, cultural and economic policy that had not previously existed. The UK, in 1997, was positioning itself to launch a policy initiative that would lay the foundations of a “creative nation.”