I was appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Tuesday, 9th January 2018, as readers of this E-Newsletter will know, having been promoted in the Reshuffle from my previous Ministerial role of Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.
The Arts, Heritage and Tourism are extremely important for our economy and jobs- for example Tourism alone accounts for around 9% of the UK’s entire GDP. The Arts, including galleries, museums, theatres and the like, are visited and enjoyed by millions of people a year.
In the past fortnight I have been extremely busy with my new ministerial duties, supporting this sector nationally and in Northampton.
One of my ministerial responsibilities relates to the sale of certain pieces of art which are of public interest. In exercising this responsibility, I recently made the decision to place a temporary export bar on the Turner masterpiece Ehrenbreitstein.
A foreign buyer purchased the artwork created in 1835 for £18.5 million. However, this would mean the artwork would leave the country and people here would not be able to admire the artwork and as such I deemed it necessary to place the temporary export bar on the piece. This blocks the artwork from leaving the country for the time being. You can read more about this issue by clicking on the following link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5326291/Government-bans-export-19million-Turner-masterpiece.html.
In another matter which recently attracted national media attention, in my role as the Heritage Minister I nominated the Jodrell Bank Observatory to receive UNESCO World Heritage status. Jodrell Bank is the world’s earliest radio astronomy observatory, founded in 1945, and it has played a central role in transforming human understanding of the universe. I believe it is worthy of World Heritage status. You can read more about this by clicking the following link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5332839/Jodrell-Bank-nominated-Unesco-World-Heritage-status.html.
These are just two examples of the decisions I have had to make as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism in the past two weeks.
Also during the past fortnight I have supported many institutions and events including:
Rhythm & Peace: The Age of Jazz in Britain – an exhibition in London to mark 100 years of jazz in the UK. The exhibition told the story of how jazz has affected the development of the arts in the UK. The exhibition also had on display shoes made in Northampton loaned to them from the Northampton Museum – a glowing example of Northampton’s contribution to our country’s great culture!
Visit to York – I recently visited York to see the National Railway Museum and to see the work being done as part of York’s UNESCO City of Media Arts designation.
Reopening of the Hayward Gallery – the iconic contemporary art gallery recently reopened its doors to the public after a two year renovation.
Sir John Soane’s Museum – I also visited one of the many museums in my remit as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism in the Sir John Soane’s Museum, whose extraordinary breadth and beauty is just one of the reasons for their strong visitor numbers.
In the past fortnight I have also started a ministerial blog. You can find my first blog article by clicking on the following link: https://dcmsblog.uk/2018/01/theatres-must-protected/.
Since my appointment over three weeks ago I have also been supporting the Arts, Heritage and Tourism sector in Northampton, as you can read from the articles to follow.