Culture is an essential part of UK plc. British theatre and film, music and museums are why so many people visit this country, and shape how we are seen around the world.
There are few greater examples of this than the Edinburgh festivals. Together they create one of the finest cultural celebrations in the world, attracting more than four million people every year to an incredible display of creativity from Scotland, the UK and around the globe. These iconic festivals are a living, breathing example of the incredible power of culture to transform our lives and our cities.
The Edinburgh International Festival was born in 1947 under the founding principle to unite people through art and to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” following the Second World War.
The power of culture to unite nations remains as strong as ever. This week, I am co-hosting the fourth Edinburgh International Culture Summit at the Scottish Parliament and yesterday welcomed delegations from more than 40 countries.
The summit is a unique platform for discussions on the power of culture and its role in connecting people and places. Alongside the Scottish Government, eminent international artists and youth delegates, we are looking at culture and well-being and how it can be best used in a networked world. We are also discussing cultural investment, which we know can kickstart wider regeneration of towns and cities.
V&A Dundee is a great example of this. Next month, Scotland’s first design museum, which has been supported by investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the UK Government, will open. It is already clear to see how this new world-class museum is changing perceptions of Dundee, which is now named on global lists of must-visit destinations.
The ideas and conversations sparked this week will once more show how culture can strengthen bonds across the world and demonstrate that the UK intends to remain a major player in this space.
Culture will play a central role in our future relationship with the EU. We have clearly outlined our commitment to the UK’s cultural and creative industries in the Brexit White Paper. Here we have set out our plans for a positive relationship with the EU that will allow everyone to benefit from cultural and educational exchange.
Our proposed Cooperative Accord with the EU on culture and education could facilitate continued membership of EU cultural groups and networks, and allow UK institutions to partner or advise EU projects and vice versa. It could also preserve cooperation between our countries on areas such as the protection of cultural heritage and preventing the unlawful removal of cultural objects.
And to ensure our world-leading cultural and creative industries continue to thrive, our accord includes plans for the temporary movement of goods for major events, tours, exhibitions and productions, helping to promote the very best of Britain abroad and welcome and wonder at international talent at home too.
The Edinburgh festivals encapsulate the creativity and ingenuity that can be found all across the UK. And as we leave the EU, we will harness this kind of creativity to show we remain an outward-looking country, one that is open to visitors and ideas from around the world.
Jeremy Wright is UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport