The levelling up agenda has been a significant issue for the government since the Tory party’s success in winning seats in the so-called “red wall” – constituencies which have historically been less economically successful than average. Levelling up is designed to address the longstanding problem of the UK’s regional economic disparities and to allow the UK’s “left behind” areas to catch up.

The role that culture might play in delivering that commitment to level up the country is the focus of a new inquiry launched by the House of Commons Digital Culture Media and Sport Select Committee.

The inquiry will consider funding for cultural initiatives and how well the current model ensures that distribution goes to areas that might be missing out. It will also explore how harnessing local creative talent and businesses could help bring back footfall to high streets and town centres, enlivening commercial buildings and protecting them against closure.

The key questions the Committee is asking are:

  • How can culture reanimate our public spaces and shopping streets?
  • How can creatives contribute to local decision-making and planning of place?
  • How can the UK government support places without established artistic infrastructure to take full advantage of the opportunities that the levelling up agenda provides?
  • How might changes to the UK’s broadcasting landscape affect investment in cultural production outside the capital, and what could the consequences be for artists and communities?
  • How should the UK government build on existing schemes, such as the UK City of Culture, to level up funding for arts and culture?

The consultation ends on 18 February 2022.