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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 14:41 GMT
Ten-year arts plan unveiled
Culture Secretary Chris Smith
Smith: Creativity can be open for all
Help for individual artists is at the centre of a new 10-year strategy devised by the government to foster creativity.

As well as new funds to back exceptional talent, the plan includes giving every primary school pupil the chance to learn to play a musical instrument.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith launched the consultation paper - called Culture and Creativity: The Next Ten Years - at the National Gallery on Tuesday.

Main proposals
Mini-public libraries in rural post offices
Book packs for babies
New grants for individual artists
Funding deals for designated premier arts companies
New regional centres of excellence

Among its 44 proposals are plans to create mini-public libraries in rural post offices and for a nationwide scheme to encourage infant literacy.

Mr Smith said the chance to create could be available to all.

"No government can legislate for genius but we can - and must - do our utmost to ensure that the conditions are right, from the very earliest moment, for creative brilliance to flourish if it is there, or to be drawn out if it is hidden," he added.

The plans include creating new grants for individual artists and creators.

In a foreword to the green paper, Tony Blair writes: "This document looks forward to a future in which individual creative talent is given the support it needs from childhood onwards to flourish."

The Prime Minister says artists and top cultural institutions need to be freed from red tape.

He believes culture and creativity should be available to everyone.

Core script

"It is in that liberating spirit that the arts are part of the core script of this government."

Every school pupil should have the chance to work with creative professionals through the extension of the 40 million Creative Partnership Scheme nationwide, says the document.

It proposes new funding deals for the best arts organisations by creating Premier Arts Companies.

A baby
New strategy includes books for babies

These would receive six-year grants, giving greater financial security and reducing interference in return for clear delivery targets.

The strategy reaffirms the government's target of having internet access in every public library by the end of next year.

Books for babies

The Books for Babies scheme, where every baby receives a free pack of baby books, a library card and an invitation to a free story-telling event at a local library, should also be rolled out across the UK.

A library network within rural post offices is another strand of the drive to promote literacy.

That idea ties in with other initiatives to safeguard the future of rural post offices.

The document also proposes the creation of new regional centres of excellence through links between the best national and regional museums and galleries.

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See also:

11 Feb 01 | UK
New targets for libraries
15 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Radical shake-up at Arts Council
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
'Give arts back to the people' - Tories
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