One Nation Arts Tour - Leeds

Thank you all for coming here today.

This is not the first time I have spoken at the Grand Theatre, here in Leeds.

The last time I was here in this fantastic venue, I opened the Association of British Orchestras Conference, where my speech was preceded by a wonderful performance by the ‘Chorus of Opera North’.

I apologise for there being no such performance today, nor a solo from me.

As you know, we have invited you here today for a discussion about the challenges facing the Arts and the future of Britain’s arts and culture policy.

Today, we want to hear from you on three key issues;
- The challenges the cultural sector is facing today
- The opportunities the cultural sector can provide for young people
- And what local and National government can do to support culture and the arts

I won’t speak for too long as this session is about hearing from you but before we start, I want to address each of those areas and give you a flavour of the work we’re doing nationally.

There is no point in denying it – this is a very challenging time for the culture sector.

Today the Cultural Sector is facing a perfect storm, created by a government which does not understand its role in supporting this vital sector, and its potential to boost wellbeing and growth in times of austerity.

We all know that cuts are taking their toll on the sector but what is less understood is the cumulative effect of the cuts from multiple areas and the lack of strategy which is underpinning the government’s actions.

Many arts organisations outside London rely on funding from their local councils .

56% of all government funding for the arts comes from local, rather than national government.

But local councils have been hit hard by austerity measures and have had to take into account devastating cuts from national government.

This is making it increasingly difficult for local government to support the culture sector.

In light of these cuts, the culture secretary consistently uses philanthropy as the solution.

Now, I think philanthropy is a good thing. If someone wants to make a philanthropic donation, we should encourage and incentivise that.

However, the problem with philanthropy is the inequality of its distribution.

71% of philanthropic giving went to London alone, with the rest of the funding shared across the UK.

For the Yorkshire and Humber region, that works out as philanthropic giving of £3.06 per head, compared to £59.52 per head in London – a staggering disparity.

For years, the culture sector has relied on a trio of sources for funding; investment from public, private and commercial revenues – this has helped ensure creative independence and a diverse cultural sector.

So, I believe the Arts are at the very heart of who we are as a nation.

In this country, Arts and Culture has a strong and illustrious heritage and I’m proud to be the Shadow Minister representing such a vibrant, creative and diverse sector – a sector in which we are uniquely talented.

The fruits of our culture sector reach around the world; broadcasting our shared heritage and identity.

The Arts are essential to the UK, providing twin benefits; an economic benefit by acting as a vital driver for growth and employment and a community benefit, bringing individuals together and educating us as a society.

In short, the Arts enrich our lives.

Let me say something about the economic benefits.

Despite receiving only 0.1% of Government spending, the culture sector makes a combined return of 0.4% in GDP. That is a good return on public investment.

The annual turnover of Britain's major museums and galleries exceeds £900 million. Broadly £1 in every £1,000 in the UK economy can be directly related to the museum and gallery sector.

Free entry to our museums and galleries has seen visitor numbers in Britain more than double from 7 million to over 18 million a year – a real success story from the previous Labour Government.

We also earn vital money every year in revenue from overseas tourists who also visit us for our critically acclaimed theatre companies; not only in London’s West End but all over the country.

A strong culture sector is also the bedrock to the ever-thriving creative industries and tourism sector.

The Creative Industries are worth more than £36 billion a year, generating £70,000 every minute for the UK economy and employing 1.5 million people in the UK.

The UK music industry, for example, is the second biggest exporter of music in the world and has a 12% share of global sales of recorded music. The industry generates around £4bn per annum, contributing significantly to exports and providing more than 130,000 UK jobs.

In 2011, the total revenue from the International sale of the UK’s TV programmes was around £1.48bn, and fans of these shows are often drawn to our country as tourists. We’ve all seen the stars of Downton Abbey taking the US by storm this summer and in turn, promoting Britain abroad.

And the UK Film Industry supports 117,400 jobs in the UK and contributes over £4.6 billion to UK GDP. The industry also generates around £2.1 billion of visitor spend in the UK as film tourists visit UK locations, visiting attractions such as the Warner Bros. Making of Harry Potter Tour.

And finally Tourism - the fifth largest industry in the UK - provides 9% of jobs and supports 249,000 businesses.

Now, earlier this year, the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, asked the arts to justify Government spending on the basis of its economic contribution. What more does she need than the statistics I’ve just quoted?

They are vitally important but as you and I know, the culture sector provides so much more than financial benefits.

At a local level, the Arts are just as vital to our communities.

The Arts have the power to bring people from all walks of life and, thanks to advances in digital technology, from all over the world together to enjoy, learn about and engage with an activity they are truly passionate about.

I’m sure that all of you will know of a specific town in Yorkshire – one with a thriving creative hub, fantastic museums and galleries, that ensures it’s children are given creative opportunities and attracts tourists from across the region.

I’m not talking about Leeds, or Sheffield.... I’m talking about my own town, Barnsley.

Culture may not be the first thought that jumps to mind, but please allow me a moment of indulgence to pitch to you the cultural gems that Barnsley has to offer, and what we, as a community, reap from these organisations.

The recently opened Experience Barnsley museum received over 5,000 visitors in the first week – educating those who visit about Barnsley’s cultural history.

The Civic and the Cooper Gallery are popular with the people of Barnsley and draw in people from across the region.

The Digital Media Centre provides a hub for creative entrepreneurs and Barnsley is also home to the Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band and the Barnsley Youth Choir, which will be releasing their Christmas single later this year. 

These are places which residents of Barnsley are proud of – where we spend our leisure time, meet people and take our children to learn about our heritage.

Just outside Barnsley, we have the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the National Coal Mining Museum – two great attractions on our doorstep, providing educational and enjoyable days out for young and old.

In fact, across the Yorkshire region we have a rich cultural and heritage offer.

I now want to pick up on the educational benefits of a strong culture sector.

I know a music teacher. I’ll call her Mrs Smith.

Mrs Smith has a passionate belief in the ability of creative subjects, like music, to transform lives.

Mrs Smith transmits this passion to her pupils and tells me about the huge benefit kids get from it.

Whether it’s the development of their characters, their confidence, the ability to work as part of a team, the discipline required, the proven link to academic attainment.

Recently, Mrs Smith took her school orchestra to play at the Royal Albert Hall and in so doing, provided those children with an opportunity and an experience that they will never forget.

That is the power of creative subjects, like music.

I call her Mrs Smith because she is Mrs Kathryn Smith, from South Yorkshire.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if instead of making teachers of creative subjects feel undervalued, we ensured that Mrs Smiths were at the heart of every school?

I am passionate about the education of our young people, particularly in the creative subjects.

One of my aspirations as Shadow Culture Minister is to ensure that every child – the future generation – has the opportunity to unlock their potential both in, and outside of, school.

An opportunity with twin aims: an economic purpose to ensure young people are well prepared for a modern world of work that values transferable skills as well as core knowledge.

And a moral purpose to ensure that our young people are able to develop their attributes to become active individuals, who are able to contribute to the wellbeing of our communities – socially and culturally.

By putting culture and creativity at the heart of the curriculum we can help ensure that our young people have these transferable skills.

The creative subjects and creativity within schools are a fantastic means through which to develop these skills.

Those who study art, literature or film are able to think critically about the subjects they study and to draw comparisons between different works and gain the confidence to air their own opinions and convictions.

Creative subjects like Music and Drama help to develop oratory and teamwork skills, as well as developing greater confidence.

That is why I believe Michael Gove’s now failed plans for the EBacc would have undermined and threatened the future of our creative industries.

By sidelining subjects like music, dance, drama and art, the EBacc would have put a stop to our children’s all rounded development.

This would not only have been detrimental to our children as individuals but detrimental for the future of our country.

It is therefore important that we place the creative subjects at the heart of our curriculum, in order to provide children with an all rounded education which will equip them for their future.

This is something Stephen Twigg, Labour’s Shadow Education secretary, reiterated recently. Responding to the National Curriculum, he stated:

“Labour would ensure a reformed curriculum allows teachers in all schools the freedom to innovate and prepares young people for the challenges of the modern economy.”

The key word there is: innovate; encouraging children towards creative and different ways of thinking.

This Government’s approach to this curriculum is a step backwards rather than allowing children to flourish.

Creative subjects teach many skills; discipline, focus, passion.

We should be actively encouraging these traits in young people.

And finally, I want to tell you what I think local and national government can do to support the culture sector.

We recognise that times are tough for local councils.

In response, Labour has established a Creative Councillors Network with the LGA Labour Group to tackle these cuts and to build a survival strategy for the coming years.

We understand that the careful investment in the cultural sector which has been nurtured for more than a decade can easily be damaged without continued support.

The network provides support to our council culture leads and allows them to share their innovative thinking and best practice, with other councils.

And at national level, in response to the Government’s complacency about the future of the culture sector, we’ve been working on a 6 point plan directly in relation to supporting the Arts and the Creative Industries.

This plan has been put together by a Shadow Cabinet team – with contributions from the Shadow Treasury, BIS, Education, DCLG and Foreign Office teams – as we understand that cross governmental cooperation with regards to the Creative Industries is crucial to their success and that the culture agenda is something that should be integrated across governmental departments.

• Firstly, we need to nurture creative skills in education and Develop Talent. By giving young people the opportunities and skills through a creative education we can ensure that our creative industries have the widest talent pool available to draw from.

• Second, we need to explore new and innovative ways of giving the creative industries Access to Finance. Through the use of more inventive and innovative fundraising methods, like using Regional Investment Banks and crowd sourced funding, we can help support the creative industries in different ways.

• Third, we need to Champion Intellectual Property. By protecting content creators and the rights of the consumer we can provide a sound basis for investment. We must also rethink the role of the IPO and make sure they are working efficiently to help content creators whilst avoiding stifling creativity.

• Fourth, we need a Regional Strategy to support the arts in all regions of the country, not just in London, and ensure that there are opportunities available in every town and city. We intend to support this strategy through our Creative Councillors Network.

• Fifth, we also need an International Strategy, promoting our creative industries and cultural attractions all over the world. This would cement our place as the leading music industry in the world.

• Sixth, and finally, we need to highlight Equality of Access and Opportunity, ensuring that everyone – whatever their background, and wherever they live in the UK, has access to arts and culture.

I passionately believe in the contribution that the Arts can make to our lives.

They culture sector is as important to our economy as it is for diverse and fair communities.

It is a reflection of the type of society we want to live in and is indicative of where we spend time with our family and friends, what we want our city and town centres to look like and where we work.

As the Shadow Minister for the Arts and Culture, I want to confront the challenges which have been presented by this Government and work towards creating an Arts industry which:

• Is instrumental in helping achieve a strong economy.
• Helps support vibrant communities
• Makes sure young people have the opportunities to engage with the Arts and Cultural activities.

And, I want us to build a vision where the Arts are recognised for the vital part they play in our lives.

So enough from me, and over to you.

I want to hear from you, the real experts.

This is your opportunity to provide us with feedback and tell us what you want culture policy to look like in this country.

By doing so, we can achieve a secure and prosperous future for the Arts in the UK.

Thank you.