British Politics

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 297–317 | Cite as

The national trust for talent? NESTA and New Labour’s cultural policy

  • Kate Oakley
  • David Hesmondhalgh
  • David Lee
  • Melissa Nisbett
Original Article


Although the New Labour period witnessed a high degree of institutional formation in the United Kingdom, many of its initiatives, from regional development agencies to the Film Council, have not survived. One exception is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA). Using interviews and unpublished documentation, this article traces the pre-history of NESTA, its origins as an idea in the last years of the Major administration, the policy networks that helped develop it and its realisation under New Labour. The argument is that by examining the trajectory of NESTA, we can see many of the themes of New Labour’s cultural policy, particularly what came to be thought of as its ‘creative economy’ policy, under which an early enthusiasm for supporting small cultural businesses was replaced by the discourse of creativity and innovation, progressively emptying the policy of its concerns with culture in favour of a focus on economic growth.


NESTA policy networks New Labour cultural policy innovation National Lottery 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Oakley
    • 1
  • David Hesmondhalgh
    • 1
  • David Lee
    • 1
  • Melissa Nisbett
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Communications Studies, University of LeedsUK
  2. 2.Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College LondonLondonUK

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