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Supporting UK Artists and Culture

Volume 723: debated on Tuesday 22 November 2022

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of supporting UK artists and culture.

It is a huge pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. The UK is an international cultural powerhouse. Our arts and creative industries have the capacity to regenerate communities and to drive global exports, and to put a boot up the backside of our stagnant economy, but it feels like we have not always supported or nurtured our world-leading creative talent as we should as a country, or understood our arts and culture as the golden economic goose that it is.

Just look at what the sector currently contributes to the UK. Our creative industries employ 2.1 million people and contribute £116 billion to our economy each year. UK exports were worth more than £37.9 billion in 2019—12% of total UK service exports. The creative industries also help shape the UK’s image around the world. British musicians, artists, writers and actors command a global audience, while many of our cultural beacons draw millions of visitors into the UK. As soft power goes, there is simply nothing like it. That is why we must never underestimate the potential of our arts and culture, and the vital role of its people, the creators and performers, who underpin this success story.

Globally, some modern emerging economies really get this. South Korea’s creative industries have taken the world by storm, with K-pop and drama, from “Parasite” to “Squid Game”, at the forefront. What makes that even more remarkable is the fact that the language is barely spoken outside of Korea. Just as South Korea implemented industrial policy for the export of electronics, cars and chemicals, it applied a policy approach to develop its creative industries. In less than a generation, South Korea transformed from being effectively a third-world country to an industrial powerhouse and the world’s seventh largest cultural player, with its creative cultural sector making nearly $11 billion in exports and supporting 700,000 jobs last year.

Meanwhile, dedicated music or creative industry export hubs have been springing up in countries across Europe, funded by Governments and industry keen to ride the wave of this growing market. At a time when worldwide recorded music trade revenues are set to double by 2030, British music exports could increase to more than £1 billion by the end of the decade. That will require a supportive policy environment that maximises UK export potential against a backdrop of intensifying global competition.

Funds such as the music export growth scheme will be crucial, but we also need a hardcore strategy to underpin this. What do the Government have in mind? Could they look again at the idea of dedicated British music or creative industry export hubs to drive this forward, because at the moment the support is simply not good enough? A creative industries trade and investment board website has had only three posts in the past 12 months, and the Creative Industries Council has just one upcoming event over the next 12 months advertised on its website.

By its very definition, this is an innovative and agile sector. That was demonstrated during the pandemic in how some organisations swiftly pivoted to using digital to ensure that the band played on. One example is the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, which responded to the first national lockdown in 2020 with an exclusive series of live concerts streamed online. During the first six months of this series, it increased its audience by almost 30%, with 65,000 views by audiences around the world. We have digital innovation to thank for that.

Digital has completely transformed how people consume culture and driven appetites for cultural works. A recent survey showed that 81% of people think that accessing cultural works through a digital device is important to their daily lives. Despite this shift, there has not been a corresponding benefit to artists, many of whom operate as creative freelancers. That is why more than three quarters of survey respondents support the Government considering new ideas and initiatives to sustain the UK’s creative industries.

The public understand and value our culture and our creative talent. They also see the huge difference that culture can make in their local neighbourhoods. Funding the arts delivers investment in left-behind communities and aids economic regeneration. There are no two ways about it. There is evidence right across the country. For example, in Margate, thanks to the legacy of local artists such as Tracey Emin, the Turner Contemporary opened in 2011 and has contributed more than £70 million to the local economy in the last decade. This week, I will be really pleased to attend the reopening of Gosport Gallery, part of Hampshire Cultural Trust. That was a massive regeneration project funded by high street heritage action zones. We thank the Government so much for that investment, because it is breathing new life into our beleaguered high streets.

There is no doubt that the Government recognise how arts and culture can be a significant driver of levelling up, and I welcome the recognition that redistributing some of the national Arts Council spend away from London to the regions is a way to achieve that. However, I am going to urge a little bit of caution on the Minister: it needs to be done in a way that supports investments in projects and organisations that can genuinely start a snowball of growth, not as a tick-box exercise and certainly not as tokenism.

Much as I would love to see English National Opera relocate to Gosport, under the current proposals the out-of-London version will receive significantly less funding than its current form, so it will have to stop funding projects like ENO Breathe, its game-changing response to long covid. That has been operating in 85 NHS trusts across the country, including my own. The current proposal risks the work that the ENO has been doing with schools across the country, and it could stop it being able to offer free or discounted tickets to a younger audience. That work means that one in seven of its attendees is now under the age of 35. In fact, it risks the organisation becoming the opposite of what we want and the opposite of what it is—it risks it becoming an elite organisation for those who can afford to pay £300 for a ticket, albeit one outside London.

I am very pleased to rise under your chairship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) on having secured this debate. I should declare an interest, in that I chair Theatre Royal Stratford East, in London. I wanted to come in on the issue of English National Opera and the cut that will mean the closure of an absolutely unique facility in London. Does the hon. Lady agree that one cannot level up by destroying excellence? We have to embrace excellence and ensure that it is enjoyed throughout the country.

Will the hon. Lady also join me in congratulating the ENO on partnering with Theatre Royal Stratford East to put on a production of “Noye’s Fludde” by Britten? We engaged a lot of young children from east London, who need as much levelling up as those elsewhere in the country, and we managed to secure out of that an Olivier award.

The right hon. Lady makes an excellent point. The ENO has been groundbreaking in the way it has appealed to younger audiences and reached out in partnerships. It has done TikTok videos seen by hundreds of thousands of people. It has even done beatboxing in a car park. It has done virtually more than anybody to bring opera, which is often regarded as a bit of an elitist art form, to the masses and to a newer, younger audience. It will be a disaster if such organisations —not just the ENO—lose that unique identifying factor in the move. I have nothing against driving investment outside London, but we have to do that in a careful way and not as some form of crazy tokenism. I therefore ask the Minister to look again at giving the ENO more time and more resources to deliver the appropriate change and to continue its excellent work.

We also have to face the fact that we cannot rely exclusively on public funds to support the creative industries; we need new ideas. Funding and income streams across the UK remain a massively pressing issue—the Minister will know this—with most creators and performers earning less than the minimum wage. A strong copyright framework is a key element. Freelance creators and performers rely on royalties from the use of their copyright-protected works in order to earn a living, but they are currently not receiving fair remuneration when their works are copied, stored and shared digitally. I therefore ask the Minister to look at the Smart fund proposal to address that. It is suggested that in the UK it could raise up to £300 million a year for creators, performers and communities. Similar schemes already operate in 45 other countries, generating almost £1 billion a year globally. They do so by diverting a small percentage of the sales of electronic devices, which copy, store and share creative content, into a fund that is paid out to creators and local community projects, with a focus on digital creativity and skills.

The benefit of such a scheme is huge for creators. In France alone, it raised over £250 million in 2021, supporting artists and funding almost 12,000 cultural activities a year. Most importantly, there is simply no evidence that when tariffs change, device prices change, too. The potential for something similar for communities in this country is huge, and I ask the Minister to look at it. It is also supported by the Design and Artists Copyright Society, the British Equity Collecting Society, Directors UK, and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, which represent over 330,000 creative workers between them. Will the Minister meet representatives of the creative organisations that support the Smart fund to discuss this issue?

Our artists and creatives have a unique power. They can lift spirits and boost wellbeing, and they can regenerate communities and promote levelling up. They can drive economic prosperity and turbocharge global trade. No other sector can do all those things. No other sector has such a strong track record of delivering for the UK economy or so much future potential, so I urge the Minister to leave no stone unturned in efforts to harness that potential.

The debate can last until 5.30 pm. I am obliged to call the Front-Bench spokespersons at no later than 5.7 pm, and the guideline limits are five minutes for the Scottish National party, five minutes for His Majesty’s Opposition and 10 minutes for the Minister. Dame Caroline will then have three minutes to sum up at the end.

Six Members are seeking to contribute. To get everybody in, we will have to have a time limit of four minutes. I gently remind right hon. and hon. Members that if you wish to speak in Westminster Hall, you are meant to write to Mr Speaker in advance, but I will endeavour to get everybody in. The first speaker will be the House’s most distinguished musician, Kevin Brennan.

Thank you, Mr Hollobone. I was not expecting that and I am not sure that it is true, either, but I am a member of the Musicians’ Union, as you know. I declare that as an interest, as well as my membership of PRS for Music, Phonographic Performance Ltd and various other bodies. I occasionally receive some payment for that work.

I thank the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for securing the debate. The Minister should listen to what she said, because she knows what she is talking about. She was a distinguished Minister until she was cast aside brutally, as happens in this place as soon as somebody shows some gumption and knowledge of a subject. Her expertise should therefore be of great value to the Minister, who should listen to everything she said. I agree with pretty much everything she said—I hope she is not too worried by that.

Obviously, I am the Member of Parliament for Cardiff West, and the creative industries and arts are extremely important to the city of Cardiff’s culture, but also to its economy. I want to briefly mention five things in the four minutes that I have. First, the “Let the Music Move” report was issued earlier this year by the all-party parliamentary group on music. I sent a copy to the Secretary of State and asked for her response, and I also asked my office to contact her private office. I have still not received a response, but I hope that she has read the report and that the Minister will read it—I am happy to give him a copy. It sets out how we can try to solve the issue of musicians touring in Europe, accepting that we have gone through Brexit, which is not the issue here. This is not about immigration, but about ensuring that our great creative industries can flourish. I hope that the Minister will read the report, and that the Secretary of State has read it and will write back to me soon with her response to my letter. If it has not been received, her office can let my office know and I will send another copy.

Secondly, I wish to address the recent announcement made by Arts Council England, which was also mentioned by the hon. Member for Gosport. It is perfectly legitimate to seek to spread our cultural wealth around the country; in fact, it is an essential part of any effective arts policy. However, to announce, as Arts Council England did, savage and sudden cuts to some of our great cultural organisations is no way to do business. I hope that the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, of which I am a member, will talk to Arts Council England about that in the very near future. I also remind Members that Welsh National Opera will be affected by these cuts because it receives Arts Council England funding for touring around England, meaning that it is not necessary to have another opera company in places such as Liverpool, Birmingham, Oxford and Southampton, which is closer to the hon. Lady’s constituency.

Thirdly, I want to address the Government’s recent decision on artificial intelligence. It was taken against all advice and, as far as I know, nobody asked them to do it. It is partly the Minister’s responsibility, but it also sits with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Tech companies already pay artists a pittance, but the Government are proposing that they should now be given unrestricted access to the work of musicians, artists and others to use AI to produce facsimiles of their work and not pay them a single penny. It is a shocking decision, coming out of a report by the Intellectual Property Office, and I hope that the Minister will tell us that the Government will look at it again, because it has caused absolute outrage among those who are already trying to scrape a living out of intellectual property from their artistic and creative endeavours.

I have two quick last points. We also need to fix streaming and get artists paid better. Finally, UK Music is issuing its diversity report this evening. I hope that the Minister will also take note of that and read it.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) on securing this debate. I agree with and endorse absolutely everything that she has said. I will concentrate on English National Opera. I declare my interest as chair of the APPG on opera.

Make no mistake: what the Arts Council is proposing is not the relocation of English National Opera, but the killing of English National Opera. It is, effectively, closure. It has acted in a peremptory manner, with no consultation and a most questionable evidence base. The extraordinary suggestion by its director of music, of all people, that there was no growth in grand opera in the UK has been flatly contradicted by people such as David Buchler, a former member of the ENO board, who set out why that is a false analysis in Opera Now magazine. The chairman of the Arts Council praised the leadership of the ENO—under its chair, Dr Harry Brünjes, and its chief executive officer, Stuart Murphy, who is here today—as being outstanding. But their reward is to be kicked in the proverbial, because, at the end of the day, it was proposed on very short notice, with no consultation whatever, that the company should be required, having lost a third of its income, to move to an unspecified venue. Manchester was floated as a venue, but nobody in Manchester was consulted. The venue in Manchester was never looked at. In fact, it is not suitable for unamplified performance, so opera simply cannot be done there. The Mayor of Manchester knew nothing of it; Opera North, which already operates in Manchester, knew nothing of it. It is wholly unfeasible.

It is impossible to relocate an opera company over three years. When Birmingham Royal Ballet was moved from London to Birmingham, it took five years. It is impossible to anything in less. In any event, moving English National Opera out of London would mean the chorus, orchestra and technicians being made redundant. Three hundred skilled, world-admired people would lose their jobs in London, with no hope of replacing them in the provinces.

I hope that the Minister will take this away. It is all very well to say that the Arts Council operates at arm’s length—yes, but when it goes rogue and gets something seriously wrong, the Minister is entitled to use his influence, as best he can, to make it change its mind. Can we have this done outside the context of a one-off peremptory decision, based on no evidence? Let us have a proper strategic review of opera provision. Let us ensure that the ENO receives a realistic level of funding over the next four years or so, to keep the company in being, because if it folds it will be lost forever.

The ENO is more than willing to look at doing more work outside of London. That ought to be part of the discussion, but it cannot do it on this basis. We ought to be looking at this on the basis that it keeps a London base. It is able, and has already taken steps, to rent out the London Coliseum to other companies to produce musicals—“My Fair Lady” was a great success—and to bring in income to cross-subsidise. It is doing the right thing and has never had a more commercial or business-like approach. No doubt it could negotiate with the Arts Council ways to take more productions out into the provinces, which would be a good thing, but that can be done only if the company is strong to start with. This proposal would destroy the strong company and the provinces would not be gainers, so I hope very much that the Arts Council will think again. There is a sensible way forward, but it requires the ENO and the Arts Council to sit down and talk.

The English National Opera has been the ground seed for British operatic talent: virtually every notable leading British opera singer and musician has started or had part of their early career at the ENO. International stars still return to the ENO. It is the only company that operates in English, it is accessible in the vernacular and its audiences are more ethnically diverse than those of any other company. Some 50% of the audience are first-timers and one in seven is under 35.

If we want to grow opera, the English National Opera is the company doing that. To kill it off, which is what the Arts Council is doing, is an utter dereliction and complete contradiction of what the Arts Council asserts it is trying to do. Even within the arm’s length rules, it is time for the Government to put pressure on the Arts Council to reflect and think again.

I apologise for not giving you advance notice that I wanted to speak, Mr Hollobone. I thank the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for securing the debate and I join my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) in paying warm tribute to the work she did as arts Minister. She is on the Back Benches at the moment, but I am sure she will be on the Front Benches again. In the meantime, she is doing very good work, so I pay warm tribute to her.

With everybody incredibly anxious about what is going to happen to energy bills, with food prices soaring and with the NHS and public services struggling, it might seem an odd time to be raising the issue of funding for the arts, but it is absolutely right for us to do so. As well as helping drive our economy, as the hon. Member for Gosport said, our culture and arts are central to how we define ourselves individually and as a nation.

We must not allow public policy to drive the cultural impoverishment of this country, but unless the Government step in to stop that or the Arts Council can be persuaded to think again, that is exactly what is going to happen with the closure of the English National Opera at the Coliseum. We cannot stand by while the ENO, which is artistically excellent, economically vital and culturally important, is closed and, with that, see the end of the social engagement and widening access that is central to the ENO’s mission.

The Arts Council has removed all funding from the ENO at the Coliseum, meaning that, as the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) rightly said, 300 skilled artists, dedicated professionals and other employees will be thrown out of work. The Arts Council spin was that the ENO was to be relocated as part of levelling up. The Guardian said that the ENO

“is to relocate outside London”

and the BBC said:

“English National Opera to leave London as arts funding gets levelled up”.

The briefing was that the ENO was going to Manchester—not only was that a bolt out of the blue to the ENO, but it was the first time Manchester had heard of it, and it was not what they wanted. The Arts Council is closing the ENO with a tremendous cultural loss and nothing to show for it up north.

What the Arts Council proposes to do is completely wrong, but the way it has gone about it—with no consultation and, frankly, misleading spin—is shameful. It should think again. Yes, times have changed and times are hard, but difficult decisions should be made carefully, not with a wrecking ball. I am backing the ENO’s call for three things: a strategic review of opera as a whole; that the Arts Council should agree realistic funds for the ENO for a period of four years; and that the Arts Council should agree a period of five years to consult on a new model, based on the ENO retaining its Coliseum base but increasing still further its fundraising and work outside London.

As has been said, the ENO has effective leadership; I pay tribute to that and it is also fully acknowledged by the Arts Council. It has a dedicated company of employees who deserve better than to be thrown out of work in April next year. The ENO means a great deal to many, as emails from my constituents can attest. I thank all those who have contacted me and assure them that the ENO will have my full support.

Surely Sir Nicholas Serota does not want his legacy to be the closure of the ENO; if he goes ahead with the closure, that will be the only thing everybody will remember about him and his tenure at the Arts Council. The decision to close the ENO is wrong, and the best thing to do with a wrong decision is to change it. The Government have been quite active on that front in the past, with U-turns here and there—this would be one U-turn that would be universally welcomed. I welcome the Minister to his role and I hope to hear in public, or even in private—whatever is necessary—that he will step in, and that the ENO will not be closed.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for securing this important and timely debate.

I am incredibly proud of the vibrant arts and culture offer of my constituency, from the west end’s theatreland to iconic live music venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, the 100 Club or Heaven, as well as the Barbican centre, the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House and the London Coliseum. According to the Office for National Statistics, 8% of arts and culture businesses are based in the Cities of London and Westminster—over 2,500 businesses. In the time I have, I will pay particular attention to how we can support arts and culture through an incredibly difficult time.

When we look at how we can best support the future of the sector, forward planning is key, especially post covid. Its importance has been made clear to me throughout covid and more recently, during the ongoing decisions on the future of the English National Opera, which is based in my constituency. It is good to see the ENO’s chief executive, Stuart Murphy, in the Public Gallery.

Does the hon. Lady agree that there is a real misunderstanding about how much money is invested in the arts in London? That investment is brilliant, but there is a misunderstanding about it. First, it includes national institutions such as the British Museum, which should not be included. Secondly, the audience for London entertainment comes from the south-east, and the south-east gets hardly any money from Arts Council England. If one were to incorporate the two, one would see that the funding per capita in London is equivalent to the funding per capita in the rest of the country.

I thank the right hon. Member for her very salient point. Given the funding, or lack of it, from Arts Council England, the future of the ENO is dependent on two factors. The key driver is to move out from its current location at the London Coliseum. The debate on cuts to funding could be a standalone issue, so I will not stray into its complexities right now. I will take that up when I discuss ENO funding with Arts Council England this week.

Right now, what I hear is that one of the major issues the ENO faces is not necessarily a prospective move, but the tightening of timescales and a lack of due consultation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Sir Robert Neill) mentioned the lack of consultation with the ENO. In fact, Arts Council England expects 20 weeks, between now and April, to be enough for the ENO to start making decisions about its future.

Although I appreciate that a funding decision must be made, moving the ENO in its entirety is a big misstep. As we have heard, it will take five years at least. Is Manchester the right place? I personally want consideration to be given to the model used by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has a base in the Barbican centre and in Stratford-upon-Avon. That works well: it keeps the London offer, but goes out into the provinces. I cannot see why Arts Council England should not work with the ENO to discuss that type of move, which would keep the London Coliseum alive while perhaps not moving the ENO up north. We have a brilliant Opera North organisation. What about the west country? What about Bristol, Exeter or Plymouth? Those areas need levelling up. Why cannot Arts Council England work with Stuart Murphy and his team to give proper consideration to that?

Order. I have to protect the time for the two remaining speakers who are seeking to contribute. The hon. Gentleman can seek an intervention if he wishes, but doing so would reduce the time for the last two speakers.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for pointing that out—maybe Exeter and Plymouth, then.

Let me move on to another very important point: the economic drivers that culture brings to areas such as central London. Central London is the powerhouse of the economy and that is because of the hospitality, leisure and culture sectors working together. For every £1 spent in theatres, £5 is spent in the wider local economy. That is tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of jobs. That is not just in London, but across every major city that has theatres. We have the pantomime season coming up now—oh yes we have! I used to go to the pantomime in Cardiff with my grandparents every year; the local economy really does depend on families going to the theatre and having a meal before or afterwards.

In the very short time I have left, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport for securing this debate but also for her outstanding work as a Minister. During covid, the arts and culture sector was on its knees; there were worries. I had calls every day during lockdown from really major players in the culture sector who were worried about whether they would ever open their doors again. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for working with me to secure the £1.5 billion culture recovery fund. I know that she played a huge part in that; it made a difference not just to my arts and culture sector in central London, but across the country.

I end by saying that we face a very difficult economic time, but we cannot lose sight of the contribution that artists, the arts and culture play in our country—from not just an economic, but a health and wellbeing point of view. I hope we can keep securing all that and that we can save the ENO.

Apologies that I did not notify your office that I wanted to speak, Mr Hollobone. It is a pleasure to follow my constituency neighbour and to praise the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for raising this important and timely debate.

I declare an interest: I was a member of Arts Council England for the London region for seven years. While on the Arts Council, one of the things I tried to push was ensuring that it funded some of the smaller organisations, which were not well known but had a massive reach in bringing great art and culture to a really diverse audience. There is still a notion that arts, culture, opera and music are for a select few, but we know that the power of arts and culture—in transforming lives, in bringing new people into a new role, in tapping into the creativity that a number of our young people have—is so important.

I am proud to represent Vauxhall, which is home to some of the most iconic arts organisations in the world, such as the Old Vic, the Young Vic, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, the BFI, Waterloo East theatre, Omnibus theatre and Rambert, to name just a few. They are fantastic institutions that reach not only across London, but right across the country. That is the power of publicly funded arts organisations.

The Arts Council England announcement last week shows a real-terms cut to London’s cultural sector. That is a shame because—on the back of the covid pandemic and so many other issues—we know the power of arts and culture in helping to address the issues we face, such as the challenges of mental health.

The joy of seeing a group of young people from Lambeth stand on stage at the Southbank Centre at the annual Lambeth Sounds music festival—a number of parents never having seen their children perform, a number never having even been to the Southbank Centre: that is the power of arts and culture, but it can happen only if we continue to fund these great organisations. They do fantastic work in reaching out.

I have just one question for the Minister on this: does he agree that we cannot level up the rest of the country by levelling down London’s renowned cultural sector? I hope that he will work with Arts Council England in terms of looking at this decision and supporting great organisations, including the ENO, to ensure we continue to have great arts for everybody instead of feeling that arts and culture is for people who can afford it.

We have the power to succeed in making sure this works and to create new, emerging talent. We have the BFI London film festival in my constituency, which taps into some of the new talent that we did not even know existed. We could lose all that if we do not nurture it. I want to see art being taught in our schools. Schools funding has been cut in this sector; we do not speak about that enough. Why is it that only parents who can afford extra music lessons get their children to play instruments? It is so important. Not every child will be academic, but a number of them can be creative if we support those subjects. I want the Minister to talk about that.

I finish with some of the other costs and measures that the arts sector is facing. Energy costs have increased. A number of buildings are crumbling. There is no discussion about capital; that is another area that is often left out. I hope that the Minister will come back to those issues. I reiterate the need to ensure that we support London’s heartbeat: its cultural sector.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for bringing forward this important debate. Believe it or not, creative arts run through the very veins of Cornwall, just as much as fishing, farming or mining. In fact, in a village called Playing Place between Truro and Falmouth, plays were performed in the round in medieval times. And if anyone was in Truro on 27 June 1970, they might have gone to see the first gig of a small, little-known band named Queen. We now have a global reputation in visual arts and theatre; a university dedicated to the creative industries; a growing appeal for international TV and film productions, musicians and music producers; and world-class digital connectivity.

Cornwall’s creative achievements are the result of planning and hard work in recent times by a lot of local people and organisations, who have worked together to help Cornwall’s creative rural economy grow. As such, Cornwall has more creative jobs than any other rural part of the United Kingdom. A brilliant local example is Falmouth University, which used to be Falmouth College of Arts. It is now leading the charge to change the way in which creative education is delivered. It is central to Falmouth’s role as a major creative innovation hub, and its teaching facilities are second to none.

We must also continue to support our local and home-grown assets in Cornwall, such as the Hall for Cornwall in Truro. This social enterprise and charity brings great shows to Cornwall, bolsters schools and communities with local projects, and supports artists and practitioners who create original work. The herculean efforts, led by Julien Boast, were completed throughout covid and under very difficult circumstances. I am pleased that Arts Council England has recently announced an over £1 million investment between 2023 and 2026 for the Hall for Cornwall Trust, which will bring growth and creative opportunities for local people. That investment will help to solidify Truro’s status as a cultural hub for the arts and the creative sector. I urge the Government to continue to support the venue in the years to come.

There is more. There is also the Old Bakery Studios in Truro, which offers more than 50 studios and workspaces to artists of all types. RouteNote, a company in Newham, offers a way for musicians around the world to stream their tracks on Spotify and the like. Cornwall County Council is also supporting the arts and creative industries with its creative manifesto, which is an ambitious plan for the next few years to maintain and enhance Cornwall’s position in the sector. The plan includes ambitions to boost culture in communities, promote collaborative working, get more people into creative jobs and ensure the sustainability of this important industry.

The Government are right to have supported the creative industries throughout the pandemic, providing nearly £2 billion for the sector. I am also grateful to them for announcing a £50 million investment package for creative businesses across the UK earlier this year. However, we must recognise the challenges that the industry continues to face, some of which we have heard about this afternoon.

Despite everything that we have going for us in Cornwall, our social and economic context remains a challenge, and we are behind the majority of the UK on a lot of key economic measurements. A low-wage seasonal economy, a lack of affordable housing and a skills shortage among young people are holding the creative industries back. If we can tackle those challenges, celebrate our creatives and artists, and target investment into our region, Cornwall can continue to play a central role in helping the UK become a world leader in these sectors.

Let me be clear: creative arts are key to levelling up Cornwall. I look forward to continuing work with the Government to support this cause, and I would be delighted to welcome the Minister to Cornwall to see at first hand the exciting work that is going on.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) on securing this debate. I was particularly interested in her references to Korea; I recently came back from Korea with other members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. We have a great deal to learn from them. I reference the comments from the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) about Stratford and regeneration. Last night, we visited “Abba Voyage”, which was specifically chosen to help regenerate. I would like to associate myself with the comments about the English National Opera, which many Members made. I am a great fan of the ENO and wish to see it thrive.

We all appreciate the vital role of culture and art in our lives. Art offers consolation, empowerment to communities, and culture benefits for participants and performers and helps people to realise their own value. We in Scotland cannot mitigate entirely the impacts of covid or the rise in costs but, as so much of culture is devolved, the Scottish Government have acted. We delivered an addition £125 million in funding for culture and heritage before covid, and a further £2.2 million directed at grassroots venues to make sure that once the worst of the pandemic had passed, we would still have stages to fill.

Scotland needs the borrowing powers that would allow us to meet critical issues with emergency funding when required. Instead, we have to rely on the UK Government. At a time when we need all the help practicable to secure an industry that has done so much with so little money, we instead have disastrous cuts to the budgets. We know the impacts: a 7.1% drop in disposable income over the next two years. This is a time when the cultural sector needs more audience numbers and more tickets sold.

The UK Government are hellbent on pursuing Brexit to the rock bottom, regardless of casualties. The hard Brexit has cut off revenue streams, making it harder for cultural actors from Scotland to travel to the EU to earn money from audiences there. Lord Frost rather casually said of his failure to secure a deal on touring artists, that it was a “shame”. The man failed to deliver a specific deal on the issue. Twenty four out of 27 EU countries have agreed access for touring musicians, but they are not uniform. It is so much more difficult to tour—for some players, it has become impossible.

Brexit is an irredeemable failure. However, the specific damage to the cultural sector can be mitigated with effort at the negotiating table. We need the UK Government to accept their failings and the sharp need for Scotland’s cultural sector to frictionless access to the EU, along with our friends south of the border. The Scottish Government are engaged constantly in a dialogue with stakeholders in the cultural sector to seek pathways through these crises. We have suggestions: a cut in VAT would help struggling venues; renegotiating with a homogeneous simple touring visa within the UK would enormously; and the devolution of borrowing powers to Holyrood could support those most in need.

A future without our vibrant arts and cultural sector is surely unthinkable. On the Scottish National party Benches here at Westminster and at Scottish Government level we will do all we can to shield Scotland and its cultural sector from many of the calamities imposed upon us by Brexit and the UK Government.

I declare that I am the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on classical music. It is a pleasure to speak in this debate with you in the Chair, Mr Hollobone. I thank the hon. Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for securing this debate, and all right hon. and hon. Members who have contributed.

Our leading arts and culture organisations have been enriching our lives, enhancing our reputation on the world stage and contributing to our GDP for many years. Yet, having weathered the challenges from the covid pandemic and a decade of funding cuts to the arts, they now face a perfect storm of increased energy and operating costs, and a cost of living squeeze on audiences. Financial security has rarely been more important. Given the scale of the current pressures on arts organisations, I hope the Government will consider measures widely called for across the sector, such as the extension of the current higher rates of theatre tax relief and orchestra tax relief beyond next spring.

I want to speak mostly about the funding allocations for Arts Council England’s investment programme 2023 to 2026. While some excellent organisations are being given national portfolio organisation status, overall the recent announcement showed poor planning, short-sightedness and too much political direction. First, the chaos in Government led to a last-minute delay in the funding announcement. Then, what actually emerged were proposals that imperilled the arts sector through cuts to institutions, which as we have heard, have their roots in the core of the sector.

Cuts have been imposed on theatres and opera companies, which contribute significantly to the arts talent pipeline and are vital to the health of our regional theatres through their touring. Glyndebourne production has had its funding halved, despite its production of “La bohème” filling out theatres in Norwich and Liverpool this month. Welsh National Opera is another touring company that has had its funding cut by a third, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan). These organisations are being cut despite doing everything that was asked of them. English National Opera delivers education and outreach programmes that reach 165,000 people every year. It has worked hard to increase access to opera from free tickets for under-21s to relaxed performances, and it has the most diverse full-time chorus in the country. Yet the ENO has been entirely cut from the national portfolio organisations programme and will receive nothing from next October if it does not move from London to Manchester, affecting the job security of 300 full-time employees and over 600 freelancers.

We have heard about the total lack of consultation around this suggested move. It is one of the clearest indicators of a top-down approach from Arts Council England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. I have to say to the Minister that this seems to be more about political gimmickry around levelling up than a true rebalancing of power to regions outside of London. As we have heard, not one of the key organisations affected by the suggested ENO move to Manchester was consulted before the public announcement, including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Manchester City Council, Opera North and the Factory.

The funding allocated for the move is just £17 million—a fraction of what would be needed for ENO to operate from Manchester. After splashing £120 million on the Unboxed festival, which only reached a quarter of its audience target, Ministers should think again about these cuts. Donmar Warehouse is another example of a world-class producing theatre that has lost all its NPO funding. It told me that

“this self-defeating decision will undo much of the work that...has been done over the past few years and prevent us from implementing our plans to further expand our footprint outside of London.”

What we have seen is an attempt to address regional disparity by shifting some funding to the regions, but doing so out of a funding pot that has been shrinking since 2010, and 70% of the organisations being entirely cut from the programme are based outside London, including the Oldham Coliseum, the Britten Sinfonia and the Watermill theatre.

Levelling up should not be about pitting the arts against each other. Arbitrarily cutting and directing arts organisations without planning or consultation risks their very existence and makes it more difficult to improve regional parity in arts provision. Arts Council England has admitted that the unpopular choices made in this latest funding round are a direct result of instruction from Ministers. I urge the Minister to recognise in future the value of an independent Arts Council England setting its own agenda and being flexible to the needs of the organisations it serves.

It is clear from today’s debate that we need a proper plan to fund ENO, rather than expecting it to undertake a move to another city and exist on a third of the funding. I support the calls made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) for a strategic review of opera provision, the reinstatement of a realistic level of funding, and time to consult and conduct any feasibility assessment for moving out of London.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am glad to be here to discuss the Government’s support for the arts and culture sector. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Dame Caroline Dinenage) for securing the debate and I thank everyone for their contributions. My hon. Friend is a passionate supporter of arts and the creative industries, and I share everyone’s view that her steadfast support for the cultural sector during the covid pandemic as the Arts Minister meant that she was instrumental in securing the unparalleled cultural recovery fund, the film and TV production restart scheme and covid reinsurance schemes, all delivered by DCMS over those two years.

Frankly, without my hon. Friend’s instrumental work in securing and delivering that fund, this debate would be telling a different story—one of how to rebuild a decimated industry. Instead, our support for the sector has been unprecedented. Around 5,000 organisations were supported through the cultural recovery fund, alongside additional support through pan-economic measures, such as the self-employment income support scheme and the furlough scheme.

The 2021 Budget also increased tax reliefs for theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries until 2024. Those additional tax reliefs are worth almost a quarter of a billion pounds and are a fantastic boost for the cultural sector to keep producing the content for which we are world famous. Taken together, the interventions supported the cultural sector through the challenges of covid and steered it into recovery.

The Government’s investment in culture is at the heart of our levelling up approach, with a strong belief that the enrichment that culture brings to people’s lives needs to be more equitably spread.

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. On the point about the ENO and levelling up, do we not need a better definition of what we mean by levelling up when it comes to opera? It is not just about where things are located, but about how young people learn about opera, how it is perceived in schools and so on. Do we not need a better definition of what we mean by levelling up—not just distributing money?

I take on board my hon. Friend’s points and will come on to some of them later on. The economic growth that creativity can catalyse should be seen in all our towns and cities, and the pride of place that culture and heritage can bring to communities should be felt across the entire country. That is why we asked Arts Council England to invest more in its levelling up for culture places. That is why we are investing across England through the cultural investment fund. That is why DCMS and its arms-length bodies have been supporting the assessment process of the levelling-up fund which, importantly, has culture and heritage as one of its three priority investment themes.

As hon. Members will know, central to all that support is our delivery partner Arts Council England. It has recently announced the outcome of its 2023 to 2026 investment programme, which will be investing £446 million each year in arts and culture in England. That will support 990 organisations across the whole of England—more than ever before and in more places than ever before—with 276 organisations set to join the portfolio, 215 of which are outside London. That, for example, includes £500,000 for the Hampshire Cultural Trust on an annual basis. Its application was focused on expanding the organisation’s work in three of Arts Council England’s priority places, including the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport, along with Rushmoor and the New Forest. The trust described the decision as “a landmark day”.

I am afraid I am running out of time. I have been asked a lot of questions, and I need to get through them all.

In short, I am unapologetic that the Arts Council is providing support to more organisations in more places than ever before for the following reasons. First, it is providing more opportunities for children and young people. There will be a 20% increase in organisations that are funded to deliver work for children and young people in the new portfolio and 79% of the new portfolio will deliver activity specifically for children and young people.

Secondly, it is supporting more libraries and museums than ever before. Funding for libraries will increase nearly three-fold and 223 accredited museums will receive a total investment of more than £113 million over three years, representing an increase of 21%.

Thirdly, we will see an increased investment in 78 previously underserved places, totalling £43 million each year and representing an increase of 95%. Places such as Blackburn, which never got a penny before, will now have four projects supported. That is something I certainly support.

I understand that some hon. Members may disagree with the decisions taken by the Arts Council in recent funding announcements. The individual decisions were taken by the Arts Council, which assessed an unprecedented number of applications. The decisions are therefore for the Arts Council to comment on. However, I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport will agree with me that, stepping back and looking at the whole picture, it is exciting to see a portfolio that gives people right across the country more opportunities to access culture on their doorstop. The new portfolio supports both new and more established organisations to develop and thrive.

I turn to the English National Opera. There were a record number of applications, and it was a competitive fund. I recognise that leaving the portfolio can be a difficult process for organisations, their employees and their audiences. While I cannot comment on the specifics of individual funding decisions that were taken independently by the Arts Council, ACE has proposed a package of support to the English National Opera. The Department is very keen that Arts Council England and the English National Opera work together on the possibilities for the future of the organisation. My noble friend Lord Parkinson, the Arts Minister, has been very keen to hear the views of Members in the debate today. I will ensure that he will be aware of the points raised.

A number of other specific points were raised. The Creative Industries Council has been a key partner in supporting the creative industries. It has provided a forum for us to engage directly with the industry on the challenges and opportunities they face, and we worked together to deliver the 2018 sector deal. It has been our partner in developing the creative industries sector vision, which will be published in the new year. I welcome the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport.

On creative exports, UK creative industries were identified in the Government’s export strategy as a priority sector to contribute to the Government’s target of £1 trillion of UK exports by 2035. The Government are not currently pursuing an export office, but continue to support creatives exporting to Europe and the world with a range of export support programmes, including the successful music export growth scheme and the international showcase funds. We will continue to work with the Department for International Trade on these important issues.

I am conscious of the time, so I will have to write to hon. Members about several issues. On the Smart fund, the Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch and Upminster (Julia Lopez), has already met with industry bodies to learn about the proposals. I will make her aware of the comments made in the debate today.

Finally, the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) asked me to read the APPG report, which I am more than happy to do; again, I will raise the issue with the appropriate Minister.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport again for bringing this debate forward. I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to Member, and I will make my colleagues in the Department aware of the points raised strongly today. I am aware of the impact of the pandemic on the arts and culture workforce and how many left the sector as a result. The best way we can bring those people back and attract new people in is to help drive growth. Ultimately, we want to drive that growth across the entire country.

I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part today. This has been a really great debate. I thank the Minister—apologies for the fact that he has had a bit of an ear-bashing. I welcome him to his role; I know that he will carry it out as he has all the others, with an enormous amount of dedication and ability.

The Minister kicked off by talking about the immense work that happened in DCMS over the pandemic. He is absolutely right—an enormous amount of blood, sweat, tears and money came out of the incredible team at DCMS over that period, and there are a number of cultural institutions that simply would not be around today had there not been that amount of work. I guess what I am saying today is that we must not lose that momentum. We must build on that.

Our arts and culture make us feel good and are good for our health and wellbeing, but they also define us—they are who we are as a nation. Even if we talk about the issue in cold hard pounds, shillings and pence, they are the cornerstone of our UK economy. As I said before, the sector makes up 12% of our service exports. The sector means business.

At the heart of the sector are the artists and creative talent who make it possible. It does not happen by magic; it happens when we support them, nurture them and encourage them. We cannot take our eye off the ball on that. Knowing that money is tight, I urge the Minister to look at some of the investment I spoke about today, such as the Smart fund—innovative ways of generating money to support our creatives—and to look again, if he can, at some of the decisions made by the Arts Council. Although I completely agree with the idea of devolving money to other parts of the UK, we do not do it by destroying cultural institutions that have already done so much to support our culture and arts.

Motion lapsed, and sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(14)).