It is a great pleasure to appear under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. In fact, it is the first time in six years that I have appeared in order to propose a motion in Westminster Hall, so you can put that on your already extremely distinguished CV. It is also a great pleasure to talk about the arts, which has been a passion of mine all my life and has been—
I am glad to have the support of the Scottish National party on that issue, as I do on so many others. It is worth pointing out, with the very distinguished spokesman for the SNP, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (John Nicolson), here, that broadly speaking I will be talking about funding in England. No doubt the SNP spokesman can talk about funding in Scotland and he will tell a great tale that the Minister will rightly treat with some scepticism; he will point out that the Scottish story is not as great as the SNP would make out.
Anyway, back to England. I was lucky enough to serve as the Minister responsible for the arts for six years, until I left the Government in July. I warmly welcome the new Minister to his position and want to tell him that he need have no worry about my being a backseat driver. I am not planning to leave Parliament to give him the space that he needs to develop his position, but I am certainly not planning to second-guess what he does in his new role. I know already how talented he is, but those of us who leave Government perhaps not of our own accord do not have the chance to make a resignation speech, so perhaps I can treat this motion as a review of some of the things that I did as an Arts Minister and explain why I think there is an opportunity to increase Government funding for the arts.
The arts in England in particular, but also in the UK as a whole, have always relied on what is known as the mixed economy. We are relatively unique and very lucky, in that our arts organisations depend not just on straight Government funding but also, obviously, on their income and on philanthropy. In the last six years, we as a Government worked hard to encourage philanthropy, and arts and heritage organisations responded in kind and raised a great deal of money. Schemes such as Catalyst, which introduced match funding, enabled them to raise additional money from private donors.
I will just point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the level of public funding for the arts in Britain is lower than that in most continental European countries and below the European average. I think the Government ought to look at that.
I will take that point when I come to address the levels of actual Government funding. I was talking about the mixed economy and pointing out that arts and heritage organisations have responded brilliantly, by not only raising private money from donors, but raising what is in effect commercial income from ticket sales, sponsorship and the like. In fact, for most successful arts and heritage organisations, Government funding is only a small proportion of their overall funding. Having said that, I believe that Government funding is vital. It is vital in providing core funding support for many of our most popular and successful arts organisations, as well as smaller arts organisations all over England. It is also vital in attracting additional money. A grant from the Government, Arts Council England or the Heritage Lottery Fund is a great vote of confidence that ends up acting as a catalyst for attracting private sponsorship and commercial funding as well.
We are very lucky in this country to have not only the mixed economy, but very talented arts and heritage leaders. I pay tribute to the people I worked with at the Arts Council: people such as Liz Forgan and Peter Bazalgette as chairmen of the Arts Council and Alan Davey and Darren Henley as chief executives. I am incredibly pleased to see that Sir Nicholas Serota is taking over from Peter Bazalgette as the new chairman of the Arts Council. Again, that is a great vote of confidence in the condition of the arts today.
When we came into government, we did have to impose cuts on the Arts Council, but in my view those cuts were misinterpreted. We kept to a minimum the cuts in money that actually went to arts organisations through grant in aid. We did stop some very expensive programmes and reduce the overall bureaucracy of the Arts Council, but the money going to arts organisations was reduced by far less. The amount of money going to arts organisations through the national lottery was increased significantly, by hundreds of millions of pounds.
It is also worth pointing out that in the last couple of years the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), began to introduce tax breaks for arts organisations. I understand that the theatre tax break, for example, is now worth some £25 million to theatres in England. The orchestra tax break, which is just coming into play, will no doubt have a similar impact, and I know that the Government are taking forward plans for an exhibitions tax break as well.
Nevertheless, there have been cuts. The point I wanted to make was that the arts organisations that have had to deal with those funding reductions—as with many other sectors, covering every part of Government, that have had to deal with funding reductions—have responded brilliantly.
In my opinion, the heritage industry has perhaps been treated rather worse, because it suffered cuts under the last Labour Government and we did not protect it additionally when we came into office. The overall grant for English Heritage, now known as Historic England, has been significantly reduced, curtailing its ability to carry out vital heritage regulation. Nevertheless, the new model that the Government have put in place, putting the historic buildings and monuments that English Heritage was responsible for into a separate charity, along with a very generous capital endowment, will make a big difference. I pay tribute to people such as Simon Thurley, who led English Heritage for much of my time as a Minister, and to the current chairman, Laurie Magnus, who has done a brilliant job in making that split happen and providing a confident future for heritage.
Nevertheless, heritage funding is not as high as it could be. There have been individual programmes that have made a difference. As a Minister, I tried to go to the then Chancellor with individual programmes to draw in additional funding and I was successful—for example, with the capital programme for cathedrals. I should say, of course, that heritage did benefit from, again, a significant uplift in lottery funding, which has made a massive difference, because obviously heritage projects require a lot of capital funding in order to fund improvements.
Then we come to our wonderful national museums. They are national, serving all parts of the United Kingdom, but they, too, have seen a significant reduction in funding, while all the time maintaining free access to the national collections. Again, they have responded magnificently. I cannot think of a set of national museums anywhere in the world that have the prestige that ours do. They have seen their visitor numbers increase successfully. Take a museum such as the British Museum or Tate. These are world-leading museums, attracting millions of visitors every year and highly regarded throughout the world. It would take too long to list all the incredibly distinguished directors whom I was lucky enough to work with, many of whom continue to run our national museums, but again, if people want to see an example of a sector that has responded brilliantly to straitened financial circumstances, I think our national museums represent that.
The arts are resilient. The value of the contribution of arts and culture to our economy has increased by one third. They have increased the revenue that they earn, they have increased the money that they bring in through philanthropy, and they make ever more impacts in other parts of life, whether through cultural diplomacy—our calling card around the world—or impacts on health, the criminal justice system or education. The arts and our heritage sectors deserve support. There was—I do not think I am underestimating—an outpouring of joy from the arts and heritage sector at the last spending review in November 2015 when the then Chancellor announced that he was not going to make any cuts at all to the arts and heritage. That is the position we had arrived at. It was not just that he was not going to make any cuts; it was the way he put his position in his statement. He said:
“One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport.”—[Official Report, 25 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1368.]
He also said that
“deep cuts…are a false economy”.—[Official Report, 25 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1368.]
I agree with him and am glad that in that last settlement the then Chancellor recognised—as I think the arts and heritage sector took his meaning to be—that we had come, as it were, to the floor of where we were going to come to.
Briefly, I strongly support what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. In the last few days, he may have seen a television programme about Cambodia. They are trying to revive their culture after the terrible predations of Pol Pot and his people, and their simple slogan is “No culture, no nation”. Culture is how we define ourselves and it is absolutely vital that it is preserved.
That is so true and that is why I am so pleased that this Government also brought into being the cultural protection fund—£30 million of funding that is available to preserve the culture and heritage of other nations. In fact, all told, if we add the individual programmes to the core funding of heritage, museums and arts, we have a fantastic story to tell, both in the financial support of the arts and heritage, and in the range of programmes that this Government have supported.
Local authority funding is always a huge issue. I have to say that I am more robust on this than I am on other issues. Local councillors are elected by local people and they have the freedom to spend their taxpayers’ money as they see fit. I do not support statutory funding or statutory requirements for culture in a local area. I think that wise local councils should support the arts and heritage in their areas and understand the impact they have.
The right hon. Gentleman is making a good point, but what does he think about how local authorities are expected to cope with keeping their arts budgets at a static point? I have to say that Bristol has managed it, and I am proud of that, but most are struggling because of the cuts to their grants from central Government. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to comment on that?
One of the things we wanted to do in the culture White Paper, which I published before I left the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was to take forward a partnership with local councils showing how the arts and heritage play a huge role in place-making and how different funding streams—not just the core funding stream from Department for Communities and Local Government or via the Arts Council—could help to support arts organisations. There is a lot we can do. Things like the UK capital of culture programme, for example, are great ways of galvanizing local authorities into taking their arts and heritage more seriously, but there are still bad news stories. For example, I was depressed to learn this week that Walsall is thinking of closing the New Art Gallery Walsall, which I regard as a great cultural institution.
I do not want to be a backseat driver. I wanted to use this debate to praise our arts and heritage sectors and what they have achieved, and to look briefly forward at what can be achieved in the future. Last week the Minister announced the museums review. That is a great opportunity to put our national museums, and some of our key regional museums, on a secure footing and to make absolutely clear what the relationship is between central Government and our national and regional museums and also what central Government are prepared to fund as core support and what they would expect national and regional museums to raise for themselves. Similarly, with the review of the Arts Council and other organisations that may take place shortly, I hope the Minister will think deeply about the core level of funding that the arts and heritage should receive.
A new Government, with fresh Ministers and renewed energy, have a chance to put arts and heritage funding on a secure and core footing. I am not asking for the earth. I am not asking for a 100% increase in core arts and heritage funding. A small and modest increase would not only make a significant difference to the arts and heritage; perhaps more importantly, it would stand, as the words of the then Chancellor showed in last year’s autumn statement, as an extraordinary vote of confidence in some of the greatest organisations we will find anywhere in the world, and that vote of confidence would be repaid many times over.
This is an hour-long debate, so we are due to finish at 5.30 pm. The guidelines are that the SNP Front Bench is allowed five minutes, Her Majesty’s Opposition are allowed five minutes, the Minister is allowed 10 minutes and then Ed Vaizey is allowed three minutes to sum up the debate at the end. Therefore, I want to call the Front-Bench speakers no later than seven minutes past 5 and there are three Members seeking to speak, so I am going to impose a time limit of six minutes, which will ensure that everyone gets in.
The first speaker is going to be Deidre Brock. I have had a nice note from the SNP Whips Office, and I think she is dangerously over-qualified to speak because it says that she
“was formerly the Deputy Provost responsible for Arts and Tourism on the City of Edinburgh Council, and is a former actor.”
Thank you, Mr Hollobone; it is a great pleasure to serve under your chairpersonship.
There is a little point in the Library briefing for today’s debate that should, perhaps, be clarified. That point is that the Scottish Government fund our national performing companies separately from Creative Scotland: the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra are all funded directly, unlike their counterparts in England. The arrangement began in 2007, which explains the drop in funding to what was the Scottish Arts Council at that time.
Those companies create and perform some remarkable pieces, giving much more value in return for the investment than we might have expected. It is unfair to single out any one of them but I am going to, having seen a performance of theirs recently at the National Theatre on the south bank: “Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour” by the National Theatre of Scotland. The National Theatre of Scotland has produced some stunning pieces and is internationally acclaimed for its imagination and bravado—a legacy of Vicky Featherstone’s time as its inaugural artistic director. She was an inspired and inspirational choice and one for which we should thank Robert Findlay and the board.
Scotland’s national companies are a fine example of getting fantastic value for money from arts funding. The continued support of the Scottish Government, though, is getting harder and harder to deliver as their own budget gets hammered time after time by this UK Government. As has been mentioned, the same is true for local authorities the length and breadth of these islands. Their ability to support arts spending in their areas will be severely limited by the perpetual squeeze of a Government obsessed with austerity and lacking, it sometimes appears, any real comprehension of what austerity is doing to services, including cultural services, provided by central and local government.
Birmingham is a fine example—local politicians forced to cut their culture budget by a quarter in a city that is proud of, and has promoted, its cultural side to great effect in the recent past. In 2012, Newcastle announced its intention to impose a 100% cut to its culture budget; that was, after a UK-wide outcry, eventually pegged back to a mere 50%. Once councils are cutting back so drastically, the services start to move towards a point where they will not be recoverable if resources become available again in the future. It moves to a point where rebuilding those services from scratch will be the only option—and that is only if the resources to do so become available.
As Mr Hollobone mentioned, I do not speak of this in the abstract but from experience. Before I came here I was a councillor—convenor for culture and sport—in Edinburgh, the city that is host to the world’s biggest arts festival every August. For five years I had the task of trying to balance the books for the city’s cultural activities. Trying to develop the cultural ambitions of a city while firefighting the effects of a diminishing budget is a thankless and unending task, and my sympathies lie with the councillors and officers who are having to try to do that in every local authority just now.
The judgment that is so often made, it seems, is that arts and culture spending is a luxury that can be dispensed with more easily than other spending commitments—that support for theatres, galleries, museums and libraries is a little indulgence that we should jettison at the first tightening of the belt. Public art becomes something to be mocked, rather than a vital part of the wellbeing of communities.
When that happens—when we allow the spend on culture to drop—we start to strip away from communities some of the social cohesion that makes everyone’s lives better. Whether it is about offering art that people can appreciate or offering them the chance to become part of the art of an area, the opportunities are about allowing and encouraging people to be part of something bigger, something more than themselves. It is about giving people the chance to lose themselves in the glory of something beautiful and dynamic and offering them the chance of learning something new, feeling something new, dreaming something new. Funding for culture is not a frivolity, nor is it a decoration; it is a vital part of what makes us who we are and what makes our society what it is.
From small-scale community events and amateur dramatics in church halls to touring orchestras and exhibitions of great works, the engagement of people in art is an enterprise whereby the benefits far outweigh the investment required. We risk much more than jobs when we put that enterprise to the sword. Each cut to culture spending is a cut to society, just as cuts to health provision or education provision are. We should ensure that the investment continues and that it is distributed across communities everywhere.
Yesterday, I had a look at the English Arts Council’s website, where there is a warning for anyone who cares about England’s culture: the funding distribution, in my opinion, is far too London-centric. London, with only 16% of England’s population, has 45% of all the organisations in the national portfolio of Arts Council England, and those London organisations take 40% of its funding to service that 16% of the population. That will include funding for the national companies, but if people value the benefits of cultural spend they will surely want to share it more widely. There is no reason why the national companies have to be in London. Take a leaf out of Scotland’s book: share the national companies with other cities, spread the funding more widely, involve more communities and help more people.
The investment in art is worth every penny and worth every debate that is needed to get it made. It is time to dump austerity from every part of public spending, but it is definitely time to dump it from arts spending.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) on securing this important debate.
Great art is everywhere in the UK, including in my wonderful town of Colchester; it is absolutely not only the preserve of London. I have long argued that funding for the arts is not sunken costs. Investment in the arts has a real economic benefit to our towns and cities—and even if that were not the case, we could look to the role played by the arts in tackling social exclusion, education, communication skills, loneliness, mental health issues, promoting the creative industries and urban regeneration. The list goes on.
For the past 10 years, the DCMS has surveyed engagement with the arts through a regular report, “Taking Part”. Encouragingly, the 2015 “Taking Part” study found that 77% of adults in the UK engaged with the arts in the previous year. That number, although impressive, has not seen a sustainable increase for 10 years and is much the same today as it was in 2005. Although the creative industries have achieved a great deal in the past 10 years, there is still a huge amount of work to do to ensure that the dynamic work of our arts and creative industries touch the lives of everyone in our communities.
We need to be clear about what we mean by engagement with the arts and, in my view, move away from attendance to participation. We all know of the well documented social benefits of the arts—I have just mentioned a number of them—but are those really being achieved at present? Attendance is great but I firmly believe that it is largely through participation in the arts that huge opportunities exist for social benefits.
Most public money still goes to subsidise those who are watching productions or visiting galleries, and although I accept that there are programmes for participation in most publicly funded arts organisations, it is only by redressing the balance and shifting the emphasis from attendance to participation that we will really start to see the step change in social benefits of the arts that we all want. Subsidising 100 people to watch a symphony orchestra will have a social and economic benefit, but what is the return on investment? Subsidising 100 children to learn how to act, sing or design a set has a clear social and economic benefit. It is far easier to measure the return on investment with that and, I would argue, it represents a greater social benefit.
Another issue I have raised with the Department for Education is schools’ relentless focus on EBacc subjects, which I understand is leading to fewer and fewer students taking up music and drama at GCSE and A-level. That could have catastrophic consequences for the long-term sustainability of the arts in this country. Now more than ever, the Arts Council has a role to play in showing that music, drama and the arts more generally are relevant and a serious option for either a career or recreational activity.
Should we continue to invest in the arts as much, or perhaps, as my right hon. Friend suggests, invest more? Many would argue not, and although I disagree with them, I take their point. We know that many arts organisations continue to innovate and to rely less and less every year on public subsidy. There is far more of a focus on being cutting edge and groundbreaking while bearing in mind the need to produce art that the public actually want to come and see.
Someone does not need a grant to write a smash-hit play or musical. To be frank, some of the best productions start on little or no budgets in small theatres and grow organically. In my view, we should encourage arts organisations to have a medium-term strategy to move towards being financially sustainable for attendance, and then we could continue to publicly fund or subsidise their participation programmes and match-fund innovative works and productions. Why not be creative and look at accelerator funding, funding research and development and matched crowd-funding initiatives? Alongside that, I believe that we should continue to support the arts through tax breaks, such as the theatre tax relief that my right hon. Friend mentioned earlier. Why not just let them keep more of the money that they earn?
In conclusion, I support my right hon. Friend’s call for an increase in funding for the arts, but I ask that the focus shift from attendance to participation, as I believe that only by doing that will we see our arts organisations become more self-sufficient and see a significant return on investment, both economically and in social benefits.
I thank the right hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) for securing this debate and for doing so much in his time as Minister for the arts. I very much admired his commitment and could see that he was passionate about the arts—there will be a “but” eventually, but he knows that.
I am here to say that above all else, I value art and culture for its own sake. Art just matters for so many things. I was originally trained as a musician. I started learning the cello when I was four and I never stopped. I went to a music school that was publicly funded. I was a professional musician and a member of the Musicians’ Union, off and on, until my early 40s. I also married an actor who was originally an opera singer and is now an opera singer again. My sister is an artist, my parents are both musicians and art has been integral to who I am for my whole life. I really believe in the value of art for art’s sake because I know what a difference it has made to my life. I am here for today’s debate because I want everyone to experience that joy in whatever form it takes for them.
First and foremost, I want to emphasise the terms and conditions of people who are working in the arts. Without a properly remunerated, well supported workforce with decent terms and conditions, no industry at all can do well. Actors, musicians, dancers, painters, writers and technicians all need decent terms and conditions and too often are expected to work for very little or sometimes even no money.
Hon. Members have mentioned the words “funding” and “subsidy” today, and I want to try and change the language by talking about “investment.” The arts deliver an amazing return on investment. I do not have the figures with me—I used them somewhere else in another speech—but I know hon. Members here will be aware of just how much the arts give back to this country’s economy. If we are talking in purely economic terms, I think it is time that we stopped calling public money in the arts “a subsidy” or “funding” and called it “investment”.
I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Lady; could Hansard strike from the record any reference that I made to “subsidy” instead of “investment”? I believe that the then Chancellor said in his autumn statement last year that £1 billion invested in the arts returns £250 billion—and if the Treasury allowed that statistic out the door, it must be true.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for reminding me of the figures. The Labour Government made arts and arts investment a real priority.
I will give a few examples of where arts investment goes and what it does in my constituency. Ujima is a community radio station with extraordinary reach. It touches the subjects that other radio stations go nowhere near. It has some public funding, but also generates a lot of its own income and does its own work. On Saturday, it was given a fantastic and well-deserved award by the Community Media Association.
Many people in Bristol know the Watershed as somewhere to go for coffee or to see a film. They may not realise that behind the doors is the Pervasive Media Studio, where artists go to collaborate, create something new and discover together. Very often, although not always, that collaboration turns into something commercial. Sometimes, it leads to a piece of theatre that needs more public investment, but sometimes it leads to something that can actually make money. I was privileged to visit the Pervasive Media Studio and to literally get my hands on one of its new inventions, which looks like a football with many sides, but is actually a musical instrument that DJs can use in nightclubs—something that I know nothing about. Apparently I got the hang of it really quickly, or maybe they were just flattering me.
Public investment helps the commercial sector. I always fall back on the “Skyfall” example. A colleague in the National Theatre pointed out to me a while ago that, although that is a commercial film, the lead characters and the director—Sam Mendes, Judi Dench and Daniel Craig—started out in publicly invested theatre. Sam Mendes did not just wake up one morning and decide to make “Skyfall”. He had been doing lots of other things, thanks to public investment.
I need to mention—the right hon. Member for Wantage knows that I will—the consequences of no public funding. He and other hon. Members have mentioned local authorities that have made huge cuts, but local councillors talk to me about dealing with the impact of cuts to central Government grants. When many local authorities serving deprived communities are faced with a difficult decision between the arts and the high cost of child protection, housing needs or other needs, they will cut the arts.
Now, I do not like that, the right hon. Member for Wantage does not like that and I am pretty sure that the Minister will not like it, but we need to face reality and accept the fact that local government and central Government grants have an impact. The right hon. Member for Wantage argued against ring-fenced funding. I get that argument, but there is a consequence when we cut Department for Communities and Local Government funding.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research has evaluated the impact of arts and culture on the economy, and it is massive. The arts and culture industries are so often more productive than other industries and, as well as generating economic value, they generate joy. I can testify to something that other hon. Members have mentioned—the value of arts in health and wellbeing. When I was being treated at Southmead hospital last year, I was privileged to see the cathedral to health that has been created there, and how much art and culture was built into the fabric of the building. There are works of art, changing exhibitions and a grand piano at which a variety of musicians play all sorts of wonderful music, which uplifted me in moments when otherwise I felt very down.
The public investment that we put into the arts more than earns its keep economically, through social aspects and wellbeing, and through regeneration of deprived areas, which is something that I have not mentioned, but for which there is a great deal of evidence. It is important that we take notice of workers’ terms and conditions, and recognise that public funding for the arts should be seen as an investment that has huge commercial opportunities when properly supported. We need to stop thinking about art as a subsidy.
Art, for my money, should truly be for everybody. As Jennie Lee said in her first arts White Paper way back in the ’60s—and I am pretty sure that the right hon. Member for Wantage said something similar in his White Paper—art, and our support for it as public citizens, should truly be for everybody. It enriches us, lifts us up and helps us to make something better out of the world we live in.
We now come to the first of the Front-Bench spokesmen. The guideline is five minutes for the Scottish National party, five minutes for Her Majesty’s Opposition, and the remaining time for the Minister, with three minutes for Ed Vaizey at the end.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), who is an old friend, on applying for the debate. His passion for the arts and his many years of success as an arts Minister are universally recognised.
All of us in this room have in common a passion for the arts; that is why we are here in such great numbers arguing the case for them. It is fascinating what diverse talents are on our Benches. We have heard from an actress and from a cellist. I am a harpsichordist—something that I have in common, obviously, with the majority of Scottish National party Members of Parliament. I am sure it will not be long before we have our own baroque ensemble. We will see.
Yes, it would certainly be a challenge. Earlier this summer, I was delighted that my colleagues on the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport were able to visit Glasgow to sample some of the city’s best known and much loved cultural assets. As they told me, during their visits to places such as the Glasgow School of Art, which is currently being rebuilt after the devastating fire, and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, they realised that there is a deep commitment and attachment to the arts in Scotland. Indeed, it is to the great credit of our predecessors in Glasgow that wisdom was shown in the purchasing policy for Kelvingrove.
My mum remembers, as a wee girl, the debate in the post-war austerity years in Glasgow about whether to buy Salvador Dali’s “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”—that amazing portrait where the viewer looks up at Christ from underneath. The city fathers, despite the great financial pressures that they were under, decided that Glasgow deserved to have the picture. Of course, the picture has, many times, outsold the original purchase price through the rights the city has to it—the postcards sold and the films made about it.
Scotland is a diverse society with creativity and innovation at its heart. In our city, we believe that everyone in our society should be able to experience and access culture. Now, why should that be? First and foremost, the arts improve people’s lives. There is a direct link between access to a cultural place or event, and health. Those who participate in culture are almost 60% more likely to report good health compared with those who do not.
Glasgow has also made some terrible mistakes. When the beautiful city centre was destroyed under the crazy assumption that we could devastate the inner city, remove its beautiful buildings and decant people to outlying ring towns leaving an architectural desert in much of the city, the worst mistake made was to think that people who had grown up going to see movies—Glasgow had more cinemas than any other city in the western world with the sole exception of New York—and going to the theatre and the local swimming baths, would be happy living in outlying housing schemes with no access to arts of any kind. It is no wonder that crime, which everyone imagined would drop dramatically, rose dramatically. It was a tragedy.
Arts and culture improve people’s attainment across many aspects of the school curriculum; in other words, access to the arts aids social mobility. Of course, there is also an economic benefit. In 2015, the number of jobs supported by the Scottish creative industries rose to more than 70,000, an increase of 5.1% on the previous year—the sector’s third consecutive annual increase in employment.
For every £1 of public investment, we see £3 in economic benefit. I, like other hon. Members, think it is enormously important that we stop talking about subsidies and start talking about investment. There is a well of good will in the House for the arts and creative industries and I was pleased to hear the right hon. Member for Wantage say that he felt that the Government had cut to the core, because we cannot cut further. On that, I hope, we are all agreed.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Hollobone. It is also a great pleasure to debate with the right hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey). In my brief Front-Bench career, I seem fated to be debating with him serving either as a Minister or, now, as a Back Bencher. One reason why I am delighted that he was an arts Minister for so long is that, in an era of financial constraints, having someone who passionately believes in the arts, and in support for the arts, was something of a relief for us all. I was sad that he lost his job but pleased that he did his best for the arts.
It is a joy to be surrounded by so many arts lovers and participants. I am a great lover of the arts, but I am also a musician in a more modest way. I was a jazz tenor saxophonist in my youth, and I played classical clarinet at school. My only sadness at becoming a Member of Parliament is that I have less time to pursue my artistic interests. I would like to spend more time going to concerts at Ronnie Scott’s and Covent Garden and going to our wonderful theatres, and so on, but I cannot do that because I am looking after my constituents and speaking for them in the House.
The arts are so important. I will not try to emulate the wonderful speeches that we have already heard in support of the arts, but I will draw attention to what my party has recently been saying. My party’s leader set out Labour’s radical, transformative vision for the arts at the wonderful Edinburgh festival. Years of systematic underfunding under the Conservatives’ austerity agenda have threatened to undermine Britain’s arts sector and our proud cultural heritage.
As we have heard, the Government have a vital role in sustaining the arts. Much of our artistic activity simply could not happen if not for public investment—I would say “public subsidy” but my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) is absolutely right. Throughout history the arts have been supported by rulers, monarchs, churches and religious institutions, and in modern times they have been supported by Governments and the state with democratic consent and support.
Public support enables the arts to take risks and to support minority arts, which could simply never survive in a private, competitive market, unlike popular music, which is commercial and has massive, wide support. As has been said, support comes from philanthropy and private donations from businesses, and so on, but we cannot do without vital state support and, indeed, lottery support, which in a sense is an arm of public support.
My party is set to revive the spirit of the great Jennie Lee’s 1965 White Paper in an updated comprehensive national plan for the arts to complement the creative industry’s industrial strategy. The British Government spend a smaller proportion of GDP on arts and culture than other European nations do—the Government spend less than the 0.5% European average. We want to reverse that. It must change, and Labour aims to provide a £46 million boost to place arts funding on a secure financial footing and to restore the £9.6 million cuts to Creative Scotland’s budget since 2010. Cuts to arts funding since 2010-11 amount to £42.8 million in real terms.
I welcome this opportunity to put Labour’s case for supporting the arts, and I hope that we can persuade other parties that this is the way forward. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say in response to what has been a good debate.
The former Minister—my predecessor and friend—my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) described his contribution as a swansong and as his resignation speech. He was the longest-serving culture Minister in the history of this great country, and he has made two such speeches today because earlier he spoke eloquently in the debate on the Digital Economy Bill, to which we will be returning.
I take this opportunity to thank my right hon. Friend on the record. Having served in five different Government Departments in four years, I am becoming something of an expert in ministerial predecessors—I have an awful lot of them—and he is my finest ministerial predecessor. He has been brilliant to me by being supportive both in public and in private. He has been quiet where appropriate, and he has been helpful, while still speaking his mind. If I may say so, he is also looking extremely healthy.
My right hon. Friend talked about the outpouring of joy at the arts funding settlement in the spending review, and it is true that the arts were well supported. I remember well the previous Chancellor saying that “deep cuts” to the arts are a “false economy”, and I know that the new Chancellor shares his predecessor’s enthusiasm for the sector.
There was also an outpouring of thanks and warmth to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage on his resignation, and it was an extraordinary, generous and genuine outpouring of support from arts and cultural organisations and from supporters of the arts right across the piece in recognition of his dedication and support over many years, which culminated in the publication of the first culture White Paper on the 50th anniversary of Jennie Lee’s White Paper.
The economic and social impact of the arts and culture is well recognised by me and by the Government. DCMS sectors make a vital contribution. In 2015 the creative industries contributed £221 billion to the UK economy, which is more than 13% of gross value added. That is the economics but, more than that, the arts are central to how we are seen and how we see ourselves as a nation, which will only become more important as we negotiate our exit from the European Union and ensure that Britain is an open, optimistic, progressive and positively engaged country.
In a recent private meeting—I was impressed by this—the Minister said that so much value could not be measured in financial terms and that the arts, in particular, were an area in which it was difficult to measure value in financial terms, even though they made a financial return.
I have said that in private and in public. In fact, I have given a long and involved lecture on the subject, and the hon. Gentleman might want to go and read it—I would far rather that than go through it in detail. It is not possible to capture all that is good and important in life with the measure of GDP. We need to be aware of that and to take it into account.
Even more than that, the intrinsic value of arts and culture is not measurable in economic terms. It is a human benefit to be part of a community and a country that has a strong and vibrant artistic heritage, and to be involved both as a consumer of and a participant in the arts—I have not put that quite as clearly as I would have if I had time to write it more lyrically.
Funding is the core of this debate. I, like my predecessor, believe strongly and passionately in the value of the arts. Public funding is a cornerstone of a mixed economy of funding for the arts. I put on record the facts on public funding: central Government funding plus lottery funding rose from £560 million when we took office in 2010 to £683 million last year, which is a £123 million uplift. Other figures have been bandied about, but it is important to put that on the record and for this debate to be based on the significant increase in support when we put together the direct funding and the lottery funding, which was in part secured by my predecessor. It is on that basis that we should conduct this discussion.
Public funding, as a cornerstone, is not the be-all and end-all, however. There is also philanthropy, which has increased, and especially the commercial financing that arts organisations the length and breadth of Britain have put such an effort into expanding. Commercial revenues, whether from hospitality or from digitisation, and philanthropic revenues are incredibly important, and we miss the bigger picture if we focus only on public money. Yes, it is important to support public funding for the arts, but it is also important to support and incentivise broader funding from all sorts of different places to ensure that we get both the breadth and depth of support for the arts that we all want to see.
On the important point about where that money is then spent and the question of London, during the period when my predecessor was in place, both the cash amount and the proportion of funding going outside London increased. Let me demonstrate my commitment to continuing in that direction of travel. If there is one person who has succeeded in both broadening geographic access to the arts and deepening the excellence at their core, that man is Sir Nick Serota, and he has now taken up the challenge of chairing Arts Council England from early next year. I am hugely looking forward to working with him in that role, because he understands how to retain and enhance that excellence while ensuring that the benefits of public support and artistic endeavour are supported throughout the country.
I will touch on a couple of other points. Funding is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all. I underline the importance of spreading diversity through the arts, funded via the mechanisms that we are discussing. When we say we want a country that works for everybody, we mean that we want everybody to be able to access its benefits, both economic and social. That means ensuring that people from all different backgrounds have the opportunity and are encouraged to access the arts. That involves increasing diversity within the arts in the broadest sense—not only in terms of formally protected characteristics such as ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and disability but in terms of social mobility. We must ensure that people from around the UK and from different backgrounds are given the opportunity and the confidence to make the most of what this country has to offer. That will be an important part of what I will do in this job, and I look forward very much to working with the Arts Council to ensure that it happens.
I would also like to mention the non-funding elements of spreading the benefits by bringing arts to the whole country. Of course funding is one part of that, but one incredibly important convening power within the arts is the establishment of the Great Exhibition of the North, which will take place in the summer of 2018. It is an excellent step to ensuring that the city or town chosen has the focus and intention to develop its arts scene. Likewise, in the UK city of culture programme, which has been mentioned, I am looking forward enormously to working with Hull to ensure that the city of culture is a great success next year. Their convening power, supported by appropriate funding, will make those events a success. I am delighted that we provided more than £14 million to Hull for that, including £5 million for Hull New theatre, but as well as the funding comes the focus that I hope will make it a great success.
Finally, I will mention something that was brought up briefly: the role of technology in broadening access and ensuring more support for the arts from outside. For instance, we can increase access and footfall and reach new parts with livestreaming, which is increasingly being used to broadcast shows online, making it much easier for schools to access them, for instance. The Royal Shakespeare Company will be doing it soon, and many others are getting into that space. Those who missed the BBC live performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Sunday evening can, of course, watch it on iPlayer. The advantages of digital in bringing more people to the arts is incredibly important.
I hope that I have responded adequately to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage. I will end by thanking him for the service that he gave and putting on record my hope that I can live up to the standards that he so powerfully displayed when in office.
We live in a time of great turmoil: within the last hour, Mel and Sue have announced that they will not be presenting “The Great British Bake-Off” when it moves to Channel 4.
The Minister’s speech was particularly welcome because of the sure-footedness and steady hand that he has brought to his portfolio. I will pick out a number of points that he made, some of which I overlooked and some of which I want to emphasise. First, I welcome his focus on diversity, in terms of both protected characteristics and social mobility. In their early speeches in their new portfolios, both he and the Secretary of State have emphasised that, which is welcome. Secondly, he reminded the House how much progress has already been made in pushing funding outside London and showed a great commitment to carrying that on.
Thirdly, I cannot emphasise enough how important words are in the sector. Actions speak louder than words, as they do in any other area, but words are important, so to hear the Minister say on record that public funding is a cornerstone will be greatly reassuring to both the arts and heritage. Also, effectively telling the Chancellor that he is a supporter of the arts is a great move. Given the influence that my right hon. Friend has, I am pleased that the new Chancellor is officially a supporter of the arts. I thank him for that as well.
The Minister is an old friend, and will grab this portfolio with both hands and with the energy for which he is well known in the House. I know that the Secretary of State is also enjoying great support from the people I know in the sector who have met her, so I have great confidence. I know that it is slightly cheeky of me, at this early stage in their tenure as Ministers, to hold a debate on increasing funding to the arts, but I wanted to put on record why it is important.
In the last public expenditure settlement, I said to the then Chancellor that although those headline cuts, of the kind that the Treasury always loves to shove out the door in the run-up to public expenditure, would have a significant impact on world-class organisations, they represented very small sums in the great scheme of Government spending. Similarly, I emphasise to my right hon. Friend that the kind of sums that could make an impact on arts organisations at the next spending review or in the next Budget would be infinitesimal in the realm of Government spending—although I absolutely acknowledge that this Government in particular have, and will want to keep, a record of financial prudence. They will not only make a significant difference to what our arts organisations can do and to their impact; they will, to return to my other theme, be a massive vote of confidence from this Government in the arts and heritage, and he and the Secretary of State will be repaid a hundred times over by the sector.
As I said, I cannot foist that burden or challenge on to my right hon. Friend. I am realistic about what can and cannot be achieved, and he must negotiate with the Treasury. However, regardless of the outcome of the spending review or the next Budget, I emphasise again that both he and the Secretary of State are welcome additions in the arts and heritage, from everything that I am picking up. I am thrilled to read some of their speeches and see some of the work they are already undertaking. I am doing my absolute best not to sound ridiculously patronising; this is a heartfelt speech of support for what the Minister is doing.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House has considered funding for the arts.