New leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn has appointed his Shadow Cabinet MPs who will be charge of culture and the arts.
Angela Eagle has been appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, as well as shadow First Secretary of State.
Michael Dugher has been appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
The appointments come as Corbyn has announced his entire Shadow Cabinet today, which sees 16 women and 15 men.
What does Corbyn promise to do for the creative industries?
Before his election, Corbyn released his arts and culture policy proposal Arts for Everyone.
The proposal promises a “radical alternative” vision for the arts – it aims to make the sector more inclusive by giving everybody the opportunity to “participate in, and appreciate” creativity.
At the launch of the policy, Corbyn said: “There is an artist, a poet, a novel in every one of us, but unfortunately because of very elitist funding, the under-funding of local arts projects, and the insufficiency of facilities in schools, creativity gets snuffed out, ignored and forgotten.
“When you give everybody the opportunity – admire, support and encourage them – then we can all enjoy the great creativity there is in all of us,” he said. “And when you unleash that, you might end up in a more equal society.”
The main points
Corbyn believes: “A successful economy and a healthy, creative, open and vibrant democratic society depends on a flourishing creative sector.”
He thinks that the creative industries should be:
- Valued highly
Corbyn wants arts to be “central to every day life” by being embedded within education, valued as highly as other industries and available to all with equal access across the country. He also wants participation in the arts to be encouraged and wants start-ups to be given the same support as established institutions.
He aims to build a national plan for publicly funded arts, culture and heritage, that will work with the Creative Industries Council to celebrate art in the UK and secure investment for it.
He also says he will designate a cabinet committee specifically for the creative industries to bring “cross-departmental teams of ministers together”.
- Given more funding
Corbyn wants to increase government arts funding and Arts Council grant in aid. He also wants to support local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries by giving funding back to local authorities.
“The Cultural and Creative Industries are among the fastest growing industry in the UK,” he says. “This important contribution to our society and economy must be protected.”
- Nationwide, not London-centric
Corbyn wants to promote the arts in areas that receive less funding, while also protecting “London’s world status as a cultural centre”.
He wants to redistribute London’s proportion of arts lottery funding, and devolve budgets to local or regional levels. He hopes this will “bring cultural planning closer to those who fully understand local needs”.
He also wants national companies and museums to make their work available across the UK by relocating collections, forming regional partnerships, touring and live streaming where appropriate.
- Accessible for low-earners
Corbyn wants to ensure “visible, coherent, accessible” extra-curricular activities “for all”.
He aims to do this by encouraging publicly-funded local arts and cultural organisations to “collaborate more effectively”. He also wants them to set objectives to increase opportunities for young people from different social backgrounds, and publish their progress every year.
- Engrained in education
Corbyn wants to ensure that the Department for Education and Ofsted provide a “cultural education” for all children up to the age of 16, and expose them to a “multi-disciplinary” mix of subjects.
“Labour must pledge for every child to have the opportunity to develop creativity at school,” he says. This includes having regular access to a theatre, gallery or museum in their local area at least once every academic year or term.
- Available online
Corbyn wants to use online media to “broaden interest in and access to culture”. He aims to make publicly-funded digital content more accessible via a Digital Public Space, which will be a free “cultural library”.
- Paying their employees:
Corbyn says that cuts to the creative industries have created professions that “suffer from appalling levels of low pay” and “exploitation of creative talent” – he says that research shows 91% have previously worked for free, and 31% of design industry employers use unpaid internships to source employees.
He aims to implement a national review on the value and impact of the arts in the UK, implement national guidelines on minimum pay, and provide universal “transparent policies” for exhibition fees.
He also wants to develop a national bursary and scholarship scheme to help students from low-income backgrounds access training, encourage universities to work with creative industries to increase high quality internships, and tackle the issue of Intellectual Property rights.
Corbyn wants “greater ethnic, gender, class and disability diversity” across the creative industries. He wants organisations which are 25% publicly-funded to train their teams in diversity and participation, and wants organisations to share best practices with the public.
- Continue to be viewed on the BBC
Corbyn wants to “protect” the BBC, by campaigning to ensure it continues to provide “high-quality” drama, arts and music, alongside local, national and international news.
The design industry’s reaction
John Mathers, chief executive at the Design Council, says: “We welcome Mr Corbyn’s stance on the importance of the creative industries – statistics released this year showed that they are contributing £8 million per hour to the British economy. Design is a major part of this – we have the largest design industry in Europe.
“Industry is beginning to realise the full potential of design and is crying out for designers with a larger skillset – people with technical and creative skills but who are also able to work across fields. For this to happen, the government’s focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths must also include the Arts – a movement from STEM to STEAM subjects.”
He adds that the Design Council will be releasing research this year showing how “design’s impact goes wider and deeper than the creative industries alone”.
“I encourage Mr Corbyn to take on board our recommendations within that report, to nurture the pipeline of high-quality designers this country needs to produce,” Mathers says.
See what the Conservatives are promising the design industry in our article here, published shortly after their election victory earlier this year.