Oliver's Column for My News - August 2020

As in many other respects, we are fortunate to have the best of local and London. We have great cultural institutions on our doorstep, such as the Bushey Museum and the Radlett Centre. Equally, we also have quick access to London to some of the world’s best galleries, museums, theatres and cultural institutions. 

As a teenager, I benefitted enormously from this. I fondly remember jumping in the Parmiter’s minibus to head to London to see West End productions. It was usually from the cheap seats up in the gods and the popular hits of the time - from Les Misérables to Blood Brothers. Similarly some of my fondest memories are of visits to the great London museums with my Dad. I particularly remember my first sight of the whale at the natural history museum. I now relish doing the same thing with my children - the dinosaurs are a particular favourite.   

The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on these institutions as they have been shut for months. As Culture Secretary and your MP, I am acutely aware of my duty to act to preserve this rich heritage for future generations. They form the bedrock of our status as a global superpower in the creative industries – our hearts, heads and job prospects would be so much poorer without him. 

So I was delighted to agree a £1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts, and heritage institutions. This is the largest ever single government investment in culture in the UK and is designed to help the arts weather the storm of COVID-19. 

Of course there will be some difficult decisions, and not everyone will be happy but this is a major step in taking care of the soul of our nation. 

[This article was written on Friday 17 July 2020]