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The future of local cultural decision making 

An open policy development programme

Culture Commons are convening the creative and cultural sectors, local governments and leading researchers to explore the future of increased local decision making across the UK. 


The 12-month open policy development programme will help shape a suite of new policies that will help support the creative and cultural life of communities across the regions and the four nations.

"With a general election on the horizon, now is the perfect moment to bring a coalition of partners from across the UK together to think about what our local creative, cultural and heritage ecosystems might need from national policymakers in the coming years."

Trevor MacFarlane FRSA, Founding Director of Culture Commons


Over 12-months between October 2023 and September 2024, Culture Commons will: convene partners in a series of insight gathering, knowledge exchange and public facing engagements; commission research through strategic partnerships with our university and independent research partners; analyse findings and unpack the risks and opportunities we unearth along the way; and take partners through a period of focussed policy design to ultimately land on a new suite of polices for local and national policymakers to consider.

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Over 12 months, the programme will explore implications across four key themes

Local Decision Making

How will more localised decision making impact the UK's creative, cultural and heritage ecosystem?


What new fund funding approaches could better address inequalities in regional investment and outcomes?

Culture-Led Place Shaping

What role can the creative, cultural and heritage sectors play in the development of different kinds of places across the UK?

 Local Voice

How can local citizens meaningfully engage in local decision making associated with the creative and cultural life of the own areas?

"We’re really pleased to be a part of the efforts of Culture Commons, working to develop policies that will create the best possible outcomes for the creative and cultural sectors. It’s only right that opportunities to support and develop these sectors are fairly spread across different geographical areas."

Alison McKenzie-Folan, Chief Executive of Wigan Council


In recent years, major political parties have set out policies that explicitly centre the creative and cultural sectors within their respective national economic growth strategies – particularly those aimed at addressing the geographic disparity between and within regions across the UK. This has come at the same time as promises from the UK Government, opposition parties and devolved governments to give wider and deeper ‘decision making’ powers to local government. 


There is now an ever-growing body of evidence that many of the infrastructures and outcomes associated with the UK’s creative, cultural and heritage sectors are unevenly distributed across the regions and nations of the UK and that they are less available to certain groups in society. With workforce conditions some of the most precarious across the UK economy, disparities appear to be becoming even more pronounced in the post-Covid-19 and ‘cost of living’ economy, with a risk that they could be further exacerbated without concerted policy intervention.

With the need for more local decision making now broadly accepted as a political and policy imperative, we propose that attention should now turn to how new policies and local governance models might interact with the creative and cultural sectors to deliver more equitable and sustainable growth for local communities. 


If policies that increase local decision making are not designed strategically with appropriate oversight and engagement mechanisms, we risk several direct and indirect impacts on the creative and cultural sectors which could, in turn, exacerbate geographical inequalities and further fragment growth between the regions and nations.


We have concluded that a new radically inclusive and deliberative policy design programme is now needed to examine the risks and opportunities that increased local decision-making could pose to the UK's creative, cultural and heritage ecosystem.

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Have your say!

Call for evidence

​To ensure that the programme is drawing on the widest possible body of evidence, the Culture Commons team are now making an open call for evidence to gather perspectives from individuals and organisations on how increased local decision making might affect the creative and cultural life of the UK.

"With the combined expertise of the brilliant collection of partners Culture Commons have lined up, I know the outcomes of this programme will be bold and disruptive and I encourage decision makers to follow this work carefully." 

Bernard Donoghue, CEO of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

The Coalition

The creative and cultural sectors consist of a rich tapestry of subsectors and stakeholders, each acting in unique ways with specific powers and responsibilities operating at different levels. We believe that no one organisation can therefore credibly explore the themes we have identified by working alone.

Throughout 2023, Culture Commons openly invited stakeholders operating at the intersection between local government and the sectors to join the programme. Over 9 months, Culture Commons reached out to 200+ organisations across the four nations to discuss interest in joining, and ran a public open call for participation.

Our final partners, below, are a group of over 20 organisations who have collectively funded and will guide the programme through a dedicated Steering Panel, responsible for all delivery and outcomes.

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