National Campaign for the Arts Chair Samuel West issues statement following reappointment of culture team after General Election
In a statement released following the reappointment of Karen Bradley and Matt Hancock to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Samuel West Chair for the National Campaign for the Arts says:
‘The National Campaign for the Arts (NCA) looks forward to working with Karen Bradley (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport), Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital and Culture) and the team at DCMS. This will be a challenging time for the country and the arts should have a huge role to play in the cultural, educational and economic health and well-being of the United Kingdom. We’re delighted that the Conservative Party Manifesto highlighted that Britain’s arts and culture are world-beating and are at the heart of the regeneration of much of modern Britain.
Before the election we suggested to those who care about the arts that they should ask three questions of their candidates regarding arts funding, arts education and ensuring access to great cultural opportunities for all, no matter where they live.
We look forward to learning what the ‘new cultural development fund’ referred to in the Conservative Manifesto will mean in practice, but the foundations of our world-beating sector will continue to be built on national government, local government and National Lottery funding. All these have been under pressure to varying degrees in recent years. We would like to see the new government make a commitment to ensure that the combined investment from these three sources increases at least in line with inflation over the term of this government.
The Conservative Manifesto was silent on the arts in education. This is a huge concern as creative skills are increasingly needed not just for us to stay ahead in the cultural industries but for the entire of the UK economy to remain competitive. We hope the new government will find more room in the Primary curriculum for the arts, ensure all schools are properly funded to allow for trips to theatres, museums and galleries and think again about the downgrading of arts subjects through their exclusion from the ‘EBacc’.
Finally, it was positive to see in the Conservative Manifesto a commitment to making great arts available and accessible outside of London. Many of our regional cities are already thriving thanks to their rich and vibrant cultural offer. We would support the new government in initiatives to ensure the end of the ‘postcode lottery’ of arts funding and make sure all families have access to high quality art wherever they live.’
Click here to read the Conservative Manifesto
After failing to reach a majority in the House of Commons in yesterday's general election, Theresa May is looking to form a minority government to remain in power.
No deal has yet been confirmed regarding the make-up of the new government, however the Conservatives pledged that should the party remain in power it would continue "strong support for the arts" in the UK, with a focus on allocating more support outside London.
Karen Bradley and Matt Hancock – culture secretary and culture minister prior to the election – have both been re-elected as MPs, however no cabinet or ministerial positions have yet been announced.
Ahead of the election, Hancock spoke to The Stage, claiming the Conservatives wanted to "see the arts flourish and see that success spread across the country".
He claimed that the arts could only be supported if the UK has a strong economy, something he said no other party could achieve.
Hancock also spoke of a new cultural development fund – pledged in the manifesto – which proposes to use cultural investment to turn around communities.
When asked about Brexit, Hancock said a Conservative government would put the creative industries at the core of its plans to support the economy, "whether in domestic policy or in Brexit negotiations".
Read More @ The Stage
Culture minister, Conservatives
What do the arts and theatre mean to your party?
We are strong supporters of the arts and theatre, which not only underpin our economic success but our society. We want to see the arts flourish and see that success spread across the country.
Under your government, would arts funding be increased or, at the very least, maintained?
Arts funding will be protected over the spending review and Arts Council England is consulting on allocation of an increase in funding to institutions outside London.
What are you offering in your arts policy that other parties aren’t?
First, the arts can only be supported with a strong economy. Second, we are proposing strong support for creative industries’ intellectual property and copyright.
Our proposed new Cultural Development Fund will use cultural investment to turn around communities.
If elected, how would you view the role of the Arts Council?
We strongly support the Arts Council. We have just completed a review of the Arts Council, which concludes that it is currently at a ‘high point’ in its history.
The review also recognised that arts and culture provide an enormous amount of value to people, communities and society.
How would you tackle the threat to the arts posed by local authority funding cuts?
The evidence is increasingly clear that investment in culture by local authorities supports local development and so improves the local economy.
We need to ensure local authorities understand this, so that they emulate the best practice of many local authorities that put culture at the heart of their communities.
We are working very closely with the Arts Council to ensure that all areas get the public support for the arts that they need.
We must ensure that local authorities are incentivised to support the arts and rewarded for doing so.
Under your government, how would you ensure that the creative industries are supported and protected during Brexit negotiations?
Creative industries are at the heart of our industrial strategy and so are core to our plans to support the economy, whether in domestic policy or in Brexit negotiations.
Concerns have been raised about diversity on and off stage and screen and about accessibility to careers in theatre. How would you tackle this?
Enhancing diversity on and off screen is vital, both as a practical question of ensuring we access all available talent and as a matter of social justice, so that all people have the opportunity to reach their potential, whatever their background.
We have made some progress, not least with the introduction of Project Diamond, but every institution needs to play its part in building a country that works for everyone.
What was the last thing you saw in the theatre?
The last play I saw was This House at the Garrick Theatre in London. It was brilliant, hilarious, and remarkably telling about how laws are made.
Read More @ The Stage
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