And the search is on to find the first chairs for each consortium - individuals and organisations up and down the country are invited to put forward names for their local chair.
The consortiums will assist the improved delivery of regional cultural services and draw up a regional cultural strategy feeding into the work of the regional development agency and other organisations in the region. They will also have a role in developing the Lottery distributors' strategies.
Members of the new bodies will be drawn from local authorities, the creative industries and regional agencies, and will encompass the arts, museums, tourism, the built heritage, archives, libraries, sport, film and architecture. It will be open to each RCC to invite people from other sectors to become members in order to reflect the make-up of its region.
'Cultural and tourism strategies are acknowledged in the guidance for regional development agencies as factors they must take into consideration. The new regional cultural consortiums will play a vital role in making sure that cultural interests receive their due recognition from the other elements of the new regional picture.'
Preparations are now underway to establish the new regional bodies, which are due to come on line later this year. Chris Smith is seeking to appoint the first chairs of the consortiums as soon as possible and is inviting individuals and organisations from each region to put forward names of those who could best represent their region.
Chris Smith continued: 'We want the regions themselves to come forward with candidates for the chairmanship of the new bodies. We are looking for people who are recognised as a significant figure in their region and who are well able to represent and speak for culture in its widest sense'.
1. The decision to establish regional cultural consortiums was announced in December in A New Cultural Framework.
Nominations for chairs for the new RCCs should be addressed to Colin Burton at the Department for Culture (LRI Division), at the above address.
2. The new consortiums will encourage a joined-up approach to cultural activities throughout the country, building on the foundations already laid by the existing informal Regional Cultural Forums. In the West Midlands, for example, a report is soon to be launched on boosting cultural tourism in the region and a joint campaign, Celebrating Arts, Heritage and Crafts in the Millennium, has been put together drawing in support from local authorities, the Heart of England Tourist Board, West Midlands Arts, the Regional Museums Council, the Local Government Association, the New Millennium Experience Company and European regional funding.