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Insight Paper: what do we mean by local decision making?

Updated: Mar 15

What do 'devolution' and ‘increased local decision making’ even mean? How have these concepts evolved and how do they apply in a UK context today? Have the creative, cultural and heritage sectors factored into mainstream policy discourse around these concepts so far?

Today we publish our first in a series of Insight Papers sharing findings from our Knowledge Exchange session with over 20 UK-wide partners as part of 'the future of local cultural decision making' open policy development programme.

In this Insight Paper, we share perspectives from four expert panel speakers:

  • Dr Jack Newman, Research Fellow at University of Bristol who sets out a brief history of ‘devolution’ and increased local decision making in the UK, with reference to the English context.

  • Jane Richardson, Chief Executive of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales who gave us an insight into how devolution is working in Wales, taking us through the major shifts in policies and exploring the opportunities she foresees as a cultural leader who came from senior local government roles.

  • Our very own Alanna Reid, Policy and Programmes Manager here at Culture Commons paints a picture of the policy landscape in Scotland, drawing out the key turning points and trajectory based on the current administration's stated policy objectives.

  • Christine Osborne, Cultural Officer at Belfast City Council explains the complex political history and governance arrangements that characterises Northern Ireland and describes Belfast’s role as a cultural broker for other parts of the country.

The paper further captures some of the implications for policy that bubbled up in the roundtable discussion with partners that followed; these will be fed through into our growing body of evidence to inform the policymaking process set to begin later this year.

We'll be publishing more Insight Papers like this as we move through the programme, inline with our open approach to policymaking processes. If you'd like to be kept up to date with how the programme is developing, please sign up to our newsletter on our home page.

Please do share this paper with your colleagues and networks and get in touch with us at if you have any questions or comments. We'd be delighted to know your thoughts!


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