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150 The Story of Parliament


Department for Culture,


Media and Sport The fortunes of the DCMS have been radically transformed by the National Lottery


Created in 1992, it brought together those policy responsibilities most associated with leisure and quality of life from six different Whitehall ministries. It was not universally welcomed. Te author Robert Harris


T


likened it to “a magpie’s nest of glittering trinkets stolen from other departments: prizes that will one day have to be returned to their rightful owners”. A leader in Te Times warned that the sectors represented by it “may be cheering the new citadel, but they will soon turn to assault”. For most observers, however, the Department of National Heritage, as it was originally named, was simply known as the “Ministry of Fun”.


Funding the Ministry of Fun However, the first Secretary of State, David Mellor, saw it as an opportunity to give “culture” in all its forms—arts, sport, broadcasting and the tourism industry—more of a voice in government. He knew the key factor in its success would be the creation of a National Lottery, using it to raise money for the arts, heritage, sport and charities, as well as funding projects to mark the fast approaching new millennium. Pundits predicted that the lottery might even raise as much as £1billion to that end. Tey were mistaken. By the time it celebrated its 20th birthday, the lottery had raised more than £32billion. More broadly, the DCMS has also grown in terms of


the policy areas it covers. As well as the National Lottery, and the original subject areas from 1992, the department has taken on responsibility in government for gambling, the horse racing industry, entertainment licensing and the four-year programme to mark the centenary of the First World War. It oversees Ofcom and the BBC. It stretches from luvvies to navvies— commissioning the rollout of broadband infrastructure to rural areas that the commercial world won’t stretch to. It took the lead role in government for delivering the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees, and numerous other high-profile ceremonial events. And, housing the Government Equalities Office, it led on the groundbreaking legislation to introduce same-sex marriage through parliament.


he Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is one of the youngest departments in government.


“British films, musicians, computer-game designers and artists in all fields are making a huge contribution to the economy”


Assisting economic growth Te department’s Permanent Secretary Sue Owen believes that DCMS priorities are very much in line with broader government objectives these days. “Te DCMS focus since 2010 has been on big campaigns


that contribute to government-wide strategy for long-term economic growth,” she says. “Our sectors comprise 22 per cent of the economy. So promoting the creative industries—the fastest-growing sector, worth £77 billion to the UK economy in 2013—is a priority. British films, musicians, computer-game designers and artists in all fields are making a huge contribution to the economy, and providing a brilliant showcase for the country at the same time.” Tis showcase has been used as the basis for the GREAT campaign, using posters and TV advertising to promote Britain as a great place to visit for business visitors and tourists alike. “Maintaining the right physical, digital and regulatory


infrastructure to help creative businesses thrive has also been a key priority for the government,” says Owen. “More than £1.7 billion has been invested in better broadband and mobile infrastructure, and good progress is being made to get it all in place. Superfast broadband is already available to around 80 per cent of UK homes and businesses, and we are on target to reach 95 per cent of them by 2017.” But it’s not just the economy, stupid. Cultural sectors


make a massive social contribution, with participation in sport and the arts having significant potential in achieving beneficial health and educational outcomes. Increasingly, research shows concretely what everyone knows—the positive impact that art and sport, culture and heritage have on personal well-being and happiness. From exploring the mysteries of our prehistoric past


to addressing the challenges of our digital future, the DCMS has certainly earned its place at the cabinet table. — www.gov.uk/dcms


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