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The Arts Division looks after all aspects of arts policy in England. In partnership with other government departments, and in particular with Arts Council England, its aim is to maximise the contribution of the arts sector to the Secretary of State's four overriding priorities (Children and Young People, Communities, the Economy, Delivery), and through this to improve the quality of life through the arts.

Investment in the arts since 1998 has grown by 73 per cent in real terms. The Branch has been working with ACE to demonstrate what has been achieved and with what investment and present the best possible case to HM Treasury.

The Branch works with LRID, Arts Council England, Local Authorities and DCLG to ensure that the arts can be used to help deliver the sustainable communities' objectives of creating stronger communities, regeneration and neighbourhood renewal, housing growth and community cohesion.

Local Authorities, alongside Arts Council England, are the largest public funders of the arts. The Branch works with LRID as advocates for local authority arts within DCMS and ODGs to ensure that the arts are represented in local authority policy. Outside DCMS, it liaises with organisations representing, or having an interest in, local authority-funded arts. This is to communicate and consult on work that affects local authorities to exchange information, address concerns and promote examples of good practice such as Beacon Councils and the Cultural Pathfinders.

The Branch is building a relationship with representatives from the Voluntary Arts sector in order to communicate and consult on work that affects and involves the voluntary arts sector, as well as to exchange information and address the concerns of the sector. As with Local Authorities, the Branch ensures that the Voluntary Arts sector is represented in relevant policy with DCMS and OGDs.

Following the recommendations of the Social Exclusion Unit report into mental health and social exclusion (2004), DCMS and the Department of Health is jointly funding a research project to evaluate the impact and outcomes of involvement in arts projects for people with mental health problems. The study is mixed method (quantitative and qualitative) using a three-phase approach - the Phase 1 report may be downloaded at http://www.socialinclusion.org.uk/publications/SEU.pdf.

A 'Strategy for the Arts in the National Offender Management Service' is being developed in partnership with the Home Office, DfES and ACE. The strategy aims to maximise the potential impact the arts could have in breaking the cycle of re-offending. Through research, the Branch is looking to increase its knowledge and understanding of the impact of arts interventions on the rehabilitation of offenders. In 2005 it published the report 'Doing the Arts Justice'. In 2006 a further piece of research was carried out, this time looking at the different options for collecting data on the effectiveness of arts interventions.

The arts PSA3 target is to increase the number of priority groups who participate in arts activity at least twice a year by 2% and increase the number who attend arts events at least twice a year by 3% by 2008. The PSA3 Arts Advisory Board meets every quarter to bring stakeholders together to share good practice and help inform policy thinking in DCMS and ACE. It reports its findings to the DCMS internal PSA Programme Board which discusses the PSA target across the cultural sector.

The Branch is also committed to contributing to the Respect agenda by providing opportunities for children and young people to get involved with positive activities in the arts. Following the success of the sports mentoring scheme, Youth Music has been granted £666,000 funding over two years to establish mentoring schemes in 14 Youth Music Action Zones across the country. ACE and the Youth Justice Board formed a partnership in 2002, running programmes to help young people learn and participate in the arts in custody and community settings. This partnership, along with DfES, has helped fund the PLUS strategy - a literacy and numeracy programme for young people at risk of offending. Arts practitioners in youth justice also benefit from this, as ACE has trained 250 artists in the Arts Youth Justice Award.

The Arts Division comprises three branches:
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