Sir Peter Luff

 

Sir Peter Luff introducing the Heritage Lottery Fund’s seminar on heritage and mental health.

 

10th October 2016 at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.
 

From the moment I became chair of HLF, diversity has been one of my very highest priorities.

It's a strategic priority for the Fund too.

But it can't just be about the rhetoric of inclusion.

It must be about real change, and that means understanding what we need to do in detail.

For all of us in the cultural sectors, whether in the arts or heritage, diversity should be
a moral imperative, a practical one and a political one.

Moral - because our nation's culture belongs to all of us.

Practical - because National Lottery players come from all parts of our society. If we are to be able to keep investing in our heritage, lottery money for the good causes needs to be spent - and be seen to be spent - in ways that benefit all those players.

Politcal - because the government demands that the lottery funding bodies strive for true inclusiveness.

The language of government on inclusion is clear. And recently its become clearer.

On the steps of Downing Street, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May spoke of her mission

"...  to make Britain a country that works for everyone."

And she identified mental health as an area where much more needed to be done.

Picking up the theme, in her first major policy speech as Secretary of State for Culture, Karen Bradley described

"...the positive impact that DCMS sectors can have on educational attainment, physical and mental health, community cohesion, and crime reduction."

She went on to explain how culture can

"... bring about a healthier, smarter, more peaceable, more cohesive, and happier society."

She concluded that meaningful cultural experiences,

"...must be available to everyone, not the preserve of a privileged few."

In his first speech as Minister for Culture, Matt Hancock said to the creative industries,

"No one should be excluded from any of your industries because of their accent, their gender, or their postcode.

"Just as culture transcends boundaries and speaks to the common humanity in us all, so creativity allows us to transcend the circumstances of our lives."

For an arms length body of DCMS like us, that's a pretty clear message, repeated in private meetings too.

HLF has been challenged to achieve real diversity in all we do.

As an employer, in our governance and in what we fund.

We will look to our grantees to bring the opportunity to engage meaningfully with heritage to all, irrespective of their accent, their postcode, their gender, their origins, their ability, their age.

We also need to see what works and why - and then help to spread good practice.

Travelling around the country, visiting an amazing range of lottery funded projects, I have been struck by the number of heritage organisations, across all sectors of our heritage, that are engaging in different ways with the mental health agenda.

From parks to museums, from Exeter to Edinburgh, I have seen heritage mend broken lives.

I know we can all do more, and that is why I am so grateful to you all for coming today.

I look forward to hearing from you and then to putting your advice into practice.