Policy review: cultural policy responses to Covid-19 in the UK

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Policy review: cultural policy responses to Covid-19 in the UK

Family sitting together with masks watching an activity. Man filming it on his phone.
© Events at Left Bank Leeds. Photo: Sally Molineaux

By John Wright, Centre for Cultural Value


This policy review looks at governmental cultural policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic across the UK and reflects on how these measures might shape the future of the cultural sector.

The key findings reveal the differences in the approach of the four nations, with Westminster signalling a focus on maintaining national institutions and organisations, whereas, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and to an extent Wales, have focused on supporting individuals.

The review shows there is emerging evidence that the crisis has exacerbated inequalities within both the cultural sector and wider society. It also finds that the majority of cultural policy decision-making has centred on economic relief for certain parts of the sector. However, both the Scottish and Welsh Governments are increasingly turning to policies that look to the future, beyond the immediate Covid-19 crisis, to integrate culture with wellbeing and with the health and education sectors.

Similarly, new forms of artistic and cultural activity are developing through virtual formats including digital film commissioning, online artist-led art markets and non-venue based digital content creating. These developments raise questions of accessibility and audience participation which will also require future research.

The Centre for Cultural Value's policy reviews are based on a rapid assessment of published literature (both peer-reviewed and non-academic) to present a ‘snapshot’ of cultural policy. The reviews present an overview of key policies and findings, highlighting what we know for certain, where there is emerging evidence and where further research is needed. It also looks at the implications this has for future policymaking.

Published: 2020
Resource type: Research