Department for Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockspur Street London SW1Y 5DH
238\2000 28 September 2000
THE BEST OF OUR ARTS AND HERITAGE TO BE FREE FOR ALL ON-LINE SAYS CULTURE
SECRETARY CHRIS SMITH
Culture Secretary Chris Smith today set out his vision of a new, interactive
future for culture and the arts in the UK. Under plans announced today,
children in schools and people at home will be able to explore - and
interact with - the cream of the UK's national museum and gallery
collections, films, music and stage performances.
Culture Online (COL) will use the latest technology - via the Internet and
other digital platforms - to present and explain the best of our culture and
heritage as a key resource for schools and an ever-expanding reference work
for everyone. In future, for example, a child studying Shakespeare's Macbeth
will be able to download the text, watch a performance of the play online,
take part in discussion groups with other students and a recent Director of
the play, call up costume designs and programmes from past performances -
and all without leaving their PC terminal or digital TV.
And they will also, of course, be able to use COL to book tickets to see the
real thing live on stage.
Chris Smith said:
"The Government wants to see the best of our cultural heritage available to
the widest number. In the future, people of all ages and backgrounds will be
able to have full and free access to their heritage and their culture in
digital form with proper explanations and links to related material."
"The implications for schools are enormous, its potential for life-long
"And what makes Culture Online unique and important is that it is not a
passive website propelling static images into a vacuum. It will be genuinely
interactive; engaging its users in real cultural experiences - teaching
dance routines to youngsters, creating discussion groups, or presenting
masterclasses with real opportunities to participate. It could be for the
new century what the Open University was to the sixties and Channel 4 was to
the eighties." The project, which is a central part of the e-government
strategy, is currently in its development stage with £5million of funding to
determine how to proceed. After development, further significant amounts
could be available from the Capital Modernisation Fund to deliver the
Notes to Editors
1. The NOF £50 million digitisation programme has demonstrated the potential
for arts and cultural institutions to collaborate on production of high
quality digital material. CultureOnline will build on this experience. 2.
Bodies such as the BBC are also planning initiatives in this area. DCMS will
work closely with related initiatives to ensure that they are developed in
complementary ways so that schools received the richest possible support for
the curriculum. However, CultureOnline will not be exclusively educational:
digitised material of more general interest will be a major feature thus
improving access to the nation's cultural treasures by the general public,
and all users will be able to take part through the interactive services
3. The Government intends to develop the new initiative in consultation with
experts drawn from the ICT and education worlds, and from cultural
institutions including museums, libraries, archives, theatres and galleries,
so as to ensure that the needs of users and the potential of the latest
technical developments are fully understood before the digitising of
cultural material is begun.
4. The scheme is a key part of the e-government strategy, under which all
government services will be available on-line by 2005.
Senior ICT Adviser
Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries
Fifth Floor, 19-29 Woburn Place London WC1H 0LU
email: [log in to unmask] tel: 020 7273 8757 (direct line)