Serota’s first speech as ACE chair

Nicholas Serota has given his first speech since taking over as chair of Arts Council England (ACE). Serota said he wants to see the arts play a central role in the lives of people living in England.

“I want to see the arts, museums and libraries not only recognised as being vital to our lives; I want to see them have an even more prominent place in the life of all the nation,” stated the ACE chair.

He went on to outline three key roles for art: as a creator of identity, as a maker of opportunity and as an education tool. Said Serota: “We should recognise that young people have a right to a broad, high quality education, which involves a creative as well as an academic training.”

In order to support this, Serota announced the launch of a new education commission, The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education. “It will bring together a full range of voices, opinions and perspectives from the worlds of education, the arts, science and culture … and suggest how we might provide an inspiring and creative cultural education for all young people.”

He then emphasised the role ACE has to play in ensuring equal access to art: “Opportunity should not be limited by where you happen to live. This is especially relevant after the European referendum, which exposed greater differences of belief and opportunity in society than we had fully recognised.”

Serota took over from Peter Bazalgette as ACE chair on 31 January. He is the outgoing director of Tate, a post he will officially leave on 31 May.

A full transcript of Serota’s speech can be found on the ACE website.