At the Arts Council we believe there is a powerful holistic case to be made for the value of arts and culture. Vital contributions are made to all of our lives from arts and culture, and this should be recognised both individually and collectively. 

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Culture allows us to understand ourselves; and the arts illuminate our inner lives, enrich our emotional world and teach us compassion. They engage us in a dialogue about values, they define our national identity and our concept of citizenship. They hand down tradition, the ideas and the language that makes us confident innovators.

Arts and culture are also essential at all levels of education, bringing imagination and self-expression to the primary school and the lecture hall. From first contact to lifelong learning, the arts have a symbiotic relationship with other subjects. We need to describe this, and make sure that the arts become integral to the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths.

The arts and cultural sector also makes a major contribution to social wellbeing - in engagement with children and young people, old people and the sick and marginalised. We encourage the individuality of local communities and through our commitment to diversity we strive to bring out the positive, creative potential of the nation.

There is also a wide contribution the creative and cultural sectors make to economic strength. The arts attract income to other areas of the economy, shape the environment for economic regeneration, drive exports and fly the flag for England abroad. 

A model: the holistic case for the arts and culture 

These beneficial relationships are complex and inter-related. Pinning this down requires specifics. It needs more measurement, more evaluation, and a new language of value to communicate across different sectors of influence. We need to be able to make the holistic case as clearly as others in the ‘third sector’ do.

The diagram you can download below sets out these relationships and the areas that we must address in order to make the holistic case for the arts and culture. We invite all those involved with the arts, practitioners and audiences, to discuss with us how we can bring this picture to life.

Download the diagram here or see a presentation on the holistic case above. This presentation was first delivered at a joint Arts Council and RSA event, Towards plan A: a new political economy for the arts and culture, of which you can read or download four accompanying essays. You can also watch a recording of this event.

What do you think?

Do you think we are using the right words to talk about the holistic case? How do you think these concepts interlink?  Which are the most important? Join the conversation by following us on Twitter and use the hashtag #artsfunding.