General election 2017: what are political parties offering the creative industries?

With the general election due to take place this week, we look at the six main parties’ policies around creative education, small businesses, and art and culture.

On 8 June, voters nationwide will take to the polls to choose the next UK Government.

Personality politics will no doubt play a part on the day. Polls comparing the public opinions of different party leaders are ever popular, while some parties have taken advantage of this trend by focusing their campaigns on the leader rather than party name, as with the Conservatives’ and Theresa May.

Read more about the visual campaigns of the main political parties here.

To counter the rise of personality politics, which is akin to the campaigning style of the US presidential elections, websites such as VoteforPolicies have been used by nearly a quarter of a million people to compare various parties’ stances on issues such as the economy, crime, jobs, education, housing and healthcare.

While extensive, this does not include the main parties’ policies around culture and creative education. Here’s a run-down of what they are offering the creative industries.

The Conservative Party

Main points include new technical design qualifications, a Cultural Development Fund for local communities and a focus on digital skills.


  • A new set of technical qualifications called T-levels for those aged 16 and older, which will include creative, design and digital subjects. These will replace 13,000 existing qualifications, have more teaching hours and will include a three-month work placement. They aim to “offer young people a real choice between technical and academic routes”.
  • Institutes of Technology to be set up in major cities in the UK, which will be linked with universities and employers. They will provide degree-level qualifications and apprenticeships, and will focus on areas such as digital skills.


  • Investment in start-up companies through two enterprise schemes, and by opening more branches of the British Business Bank nationwide, which funds small UK businesses.
  • International workers skilled in digital and technology to have special visas allowing them to work in the UK.
  • But companies to be charged double (£2,000) to employ migrant workers, with the money made going towards UK-based skills training to “improve the British workforce”.
  • “Building upon” current tax credit schemes, which let creative businesses working in fields such as animation, video and theatre pay less tax.
  • Ensuring “robust” protection of intellectual property after the UK leaves the EU.
  • Implementing the Industrial Strategy and Digital Strategy, which were launched earlier this year. These focus on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills, and digital skills such as coding, but do not mention visual arts or design.

Arts and Culture

  • Ensure more support for the arts outside of London.
  • Maintain free entry to permanent collections of national museums and galleries.
  • Launch a new Cultural Development Fund, which will invest in culture in local communities.
  • Hold a Great Exhibition of the North in 2018, redevelop the Edinburgh Concert Hall, and complete a review of the design of Government buildings to ensure they “make a positive contribution to local areas”.

Read The Conservative Party’s manifesto here.

The Labour Party

Labour has a separate manifesto dedicated to arts, culture and the creative industries. Main points include introducing a £1bn Capital Culture Fund to restore existing museums and build new ones, making arts and culture more diverse and accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a new investment fund for primary schools.


  • £160 million fund towards arts and creativity in primary schools, across teaching and extracurricular activities. A similar model currently exists for physical education (PE) and sport.
  • Review the English Baccalaureate, a mandatory GCSE requirement that currently excludes art and design, to “make sure arts are not side-lined from secondary education”.
  • A creative careers advice campaign in schools.
  • Investment in arts facilities in state schools to match those found in private schools.
  • Scrap university tuition fees for all subjects.


  • Work with trade unions and employers to develop pay and employment standards in the creative sectors, to make them more accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Give self-employed creative workers the rights of full-time employees, such as Shared Parental Pay, which allows couples to share time off work after having a baby, and exemptions from some taxes.
  • Give the Department for Culture, Media and Sport a place on the Brexit cabinet committee, to ensure “the right deal” is made on issues such as intellectual property, investment, and an international workforce.

Arts and Culture

  • A £1bn Cultural Capital Fund, which will regenerate existing galleries, museums, theatres, concert halls and arts centres, and build new ones in areas where “cultural offering is low”.
  • Maintain free access to museums and galleries.
  • Invest in museums through development projects that will increase their income in the long-term, such as building shops and cafes, as “museums and heritage sites are very important parts of local communities and we cannot afford to lose them”.
  • Invest in upgrading music venues and recording spaces, and preserve and update libraries.
  • Make the Government Art Collection, an art collection currently on display in British Government buildings, available to more people.
  • Restore the Arts Council Grant in Aid budget to a higher level, to make more cultural programmes available to “underrepresented groups”.

Read The Labour Party’s creative manifesto here. Read the party’s main manifesto here.

The Liberal Democrats

Main points include retaining arts funding from the National Lottery, protecting arts and creative subjects in schools and providing small businesses with tax relief and money to help them start up.


  • Protect arts and creative subjects in the curriculum, and “remove barriers” to pupils studying these subjects.
  • Improve quality of careers advice in schools and colleges, and vocational training in setting up your own business or on being self-employed.
  • Develop partnerships with universities and schemes like Teach First to recruit “high quality” teachers in shortage areas, including the arts.
  • Create apprenticeships in the creative and digital industries to help people aged over 21 learn new skills.


  • Fight to retain access to Horizon 2020 following Brexit, a European Union (EU) €80 million (£70 million) research and innovation fund.
  • Create a “start up allowance” for those starting a new business, to help with living costs in the first few weeks.
  • Aim to improve business rates for small firms and potentially cut taxes.
  • Address barriers to funding and finance faced by small creative businesses.
  • Support the Creative Industries Council, which is a group made up of Government and industry professionals that tackles issues such as finance, skills and IP.
  • Maintain the current standards of IP and copyright protection following Brexit.

Arts and Culture

  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries.
  • Protect arts funding from the National Lottery.
  • Create Creative Enterprise Zones to grow the culture of different regions in the UK.
  • Protect music venues from closure.

Read The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto in full here.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP)

UKIP party logo. Courtesy of UKIP.

UKIP has few policies relating to the creative industries and art and culture. But the party focuses on promoting growth of small British businesses, and the self-employed.


  • Establish links between schools and colleges and local businesses.
  • Keep tuition fees for creative subjects, but abolish them for university students taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, and medicine.


  • Abolish rises in tax for self-employed workers.
  • Cut business rates to 20% for small British businesses which are valued at less than £50,000.

Arts and Culture

  • Increased funding for arts and heritage sites in coastal towns.

Read UKIP’s manifesto in full here.

The Green Party

Main points include making arts and culture more diverse, localising it and promoting small companies and ventures.


  • Scrap tuition fees for all subjects and make apprenticeships available to all young people aged 16-25.


  • Enforce a tax on “superstar performances”, which will then be used to invest in local cultural activities and creative industries.
  • Support start-up creative businesses in low-income communities.

Arts and culture

  • The party pledged in 2015 to increase funding for public arts to £500 million, and distribute funding across local authorities to keep local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open, according to the Creative Industries Federation. This does not feature in the party’s current manifesto.
  • Shift arts funding from regional to local distribution.

Read The Green Party’s manifesto here.

The Scottish National Party (SNP)

Courtesy of the SNP.

The SNP has published a separate manifesto for culture and creativity. Main points include retaining creative EU talent following Brexit, continuing to invest in EU cultural funds and making art collections more accessible.


  • Promote creative subjects in school and through cultural extracurricular activities.
  • Continue free university tuition in Scotland.
  • Reinstate of the Post-Study Work Visa, which allows EU and international students to work in the UK, to “attract and retain young talent” in the creative industries.


  • Scrap the Immigration Skills Charge, which charges businesses for international workers, and recognise the creative industries on the occupation shortage list.
  • Keep tax relief for creative industries including animation, film and theatre.
  • Rethink the Industrial Strategy so it includes the creative sector.
  • Ensure copyright and IP protection following Brexit.
  • Continue its Creative Industries Advisory Group to help grow creative businesses and start-ups.

Arts and culture

  • Fight to retain participation in EU cultural and innovations funds such as Horizon 2020 and Creative Europe.
  • Participation in the European Capital of Culture 2023 and future initiatives.
  • Reduction of tax for the maintenance of historical and cultural buildings.
  • Continued funding for Creative Scotland and Scotland’s National Collections.
  • Make National Collections more accessible and increase school and community tours.

Read the SNP’s culture and creativity manifesto here. Read the party’s main manifesto here.

All six parties were contacted for information.

Which political party do you think has the best policies around creativity and cultural education? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • michelle nixon-welburn June 7, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    They all have some very interesting ideas and as a Teacher and Lecturer and professional Illustrator the most needed help is within education and business start up. In addition, an input of money to aid curricula arts activities at schools. Labour have a more in-depth focus especially the Life Long Learning Sector which is presently out of reach and vital resources non-existent in many locations.

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