Milton Keynes has an influential champion in Councillor Liz Gifford. As Milton Keynes Council (MKC) Portfolio holder for Culture and a Cabinet Member, she is respected by Members and Officers alike, and is consequently a strong cross-party advocate for the Arts.
Her influence as a member of the Milton Keynes EU Capital of Culture Steering Group recently ensured that the proposition “that MK Council should bid for European Capital of Culture 2023” received unanimous support when it went to Council vote. MK Council submitted its bid Different By Design in October 2017. Significantly, the cross party support she inspired also ensured that neither the work of those developing the bid, nor the media coverage, was adversely impacted by political point-scoring.
Councillor Liz Gifford is also respected by the Milton Keynes community of arts practitioners and organisations. Her constant presence at arts events earns her significant credibility when advocating for the sector. She places high priority on the interests of the city’s arts community which she works hard to support.
Prior to becoming an MKC Member she was Milton Keynes’ named Heritage Champion, a Trustee at MK Theatre & Gallery Co (now MK Gallery) and Milton Keynes Arts Centre, where she supported its 2017 successful bid to Arts Council England for National Portfolio status, taking MK from two to three National Portfolio Organisations. She is Chair of MK City Club, one of the city’s most ambitious partnership projects where she chairs a diverse group of partner organisations with energy and enthusiasm, maintaining artistic consistency whilst ensuring all voices are heard. She keeps sights on the bigger picture, encouraging discussion and consideration on how it can act as an exemplar and spring board for future city wide cultural programmes. Her advocacy within MKC enabled this project to secure significant Arts Council England (ACE) funding.
She is proactive in her support of MK Cultural Education Partnership, an ACE initiative set up to deliver step change in cultural education in the UK, which she sees as essential to the creative future of Milton Keynes’ cultural offer and wider economy.
In this, Milton Keynes’ 50th birthday year, she has been an enthusiastic and effective presence on the MK50 Project Board, steering its direction, advocating for a diverse and inspiring programme supporting and connecting culture, businesses and communities city-wide. And remarkably in these austere times, she engendered sufficient confidence for the city to end its birthday year with a fiery, creative, free of charge, birthday party for the whole city.