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International Funding

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 24 September 2020

What steps he is taking to help maintain access to international funding for the culture sector after the transition period. (906487)

By taking back control of our money, we are able to focus on spending that reflects the needs and ambitions of UK artists and creative professionals. This includes considering alternatives to former international funding programmes. We are committed to supporting our world-leading culture sector so it can continue to grow and flourish.

As we have already heard from Members in this Chamber this morning, the culture sector has been hit hard by the covid pandemic and many organisations are struggling simply to survive. EU membership is not a requirement of the programme, so why are the Government ending the UK’s membership of Creative Europe?

Creative Europe funds co-operation across cultural and audio-visual sectors, as the hon. Lady knows. The value of it is roughly £4 million a year. The Government decided that the UK would not continue to participate, but UK beneficiaries will continue to benefit from the programmes for the lifetime of their project, which in many cases runs beyond 2020. In the meantime, we are working in partnership with the devolved Administrations on domestic alternatives, which will be considered as part of the forthcoming spending review.

That was simply not good enough from the Minister. The preamble to the constitution of UNESCO states:

“since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”,

and that is the guiding principle of so many cross-border cultural initiatives such as Creative Europe. The decision to end our participation in the programme not only erects barriers to cultural exchange but sends a loud and clear message to our closest neighbours that Britain is closed for collaboration. With non-EU members such as Norway, Ukraine and even Tunisia participating, can the Minister explain the UK Government’s decision to withdraw from Creative Europe as anything other than narrow-minded Brexit isolationism?

I have already explained that we intend to find an alternative to the Creative Europe fund, which will be set out as part of the comprehensive spending review. I do not really like having lectures from the hon. Gentleman about what is “good enough”. This Government have worked round the clock with the sector to provide £1.57 billion of support in the form of a cultural recovery package, £97 million of which has gone to Scotland, and yet—guess what?—only £59 million of that has so far been announced for disposal. What have they done—trousered the rest of it?