British trio will help boost cultural agenda

LONDON — Sir David Puttnam, Richard Branson and Oasis manager Alan McGhee have been named as members of a new government task force to help promote British film, music and the arts.

The launch of the Creative Industries Taskforce coincides with the announcement that the Dept. of National Heritage is changing its name to the Dept. of Culture, Media and Sport.

This is all part of the commitment by Tony Blair’s government to boost the cultural life of the nation, and to maximize the economic benefit from that.

The other members of the task force are clothes designer Paul Smith, book publisher Gail Rebuck, advertising exec Eric Salama and media consultant Janice Hughes. Their job will be to coordinate government efforts to increase creative activity and its economic impact in the U.K.

The group will be chaired by Chris Smith, the newly renamed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The name change brings his department more into line with the European tradition of cultural interventionism, as represented by France’s Ministry of Culture, and marks a symbolic farewell to the Anglo-Saxon suspicion of the creative industries.

Smith said: “My department’s old name was backward-looking and did not do justice to the range of work we cover. Today we start a new chapter.”

“The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is … concerned with many of the things that affect people’s day-to-day lives, like sport, television, films and the lottery; the things we all talk about at work or at leisure,” Smith continued.

The DCMS has been given a new responsibility for the music business, previously under the Department of Trade and Industry.

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