Question for Short Debate
My Lords, the first thing I would like to do is warmly congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Younger of Leckie, on his new job and wish him all the very best on the Front Benches. I know that this will be a particular treat for him as he takes an interest in both the arts and sport.
The Cultural Olympiad—as the Arts Council points out, the product of sustained investment over the last 20 years—is currently a great opportunity to celebrate in the UK artists and the arts from across the world. But there is considerable concern that, with no end to the cuts in sight, the long-term future for the cultural sector looks increasingly uncertain.
It may be self-evident that the arts are produced by artists, yet there remains the requirement, in the long term, for a more artist-enabling policy including individual artists and companies, such as theatre companies, even if this is not the whole story of the arts and the cultural sector. A distinction does now need to be drawn between artists and the creative industries as defined by last year’s Demos report Risky Business, to which Ed Vaizey wrote an approving introduction, and which I referred to last November in the creative industries debate but is worth reiterating in an arts debate:
“We define the creative industries as businesses that ultimately seek to make a profit through the sale of something that is based on an original creative idea, and the surrounding businesses that enable this”.
The point here is that this is a significantly narrower definition of creative industries than the one which the previous Administration used and which was more encompassing of all artistic production. The arts by motivation are not primarily or ultimately a business, although at times they may have much to do with business; they are not an add-on but an integral part of the way in which society criticises and communicates with itself and other cultures.
Some say the arts need “to get real” in difficult times. But it will be unrealistic in the long run to shoehorn all the arts and creative industries alike into a business model that will not only be ultimately ineffective but inappropriate for much of the arts and the cultural sector.
The assessment of risk and more objective evaluation exercises are some of the strategies which have already been introduced into the arts, but—as the actress Julie Walters recently pointed out, as others have before her—failure and experimentation are part of the very nature of artistic practice, and we tamper with those aspects at our peril. I know from my own experience of local arts centres and services outside London that the network of services for the visual arts, music and theatre is not only already being thinned out but what remains is, out of necessity, becoming more commercialised, with, little by little, less room for innovation.
The great irony is that while the funding of individual artists, companies and organisations inevitably carries risk, the large-scale financial support of the arts sector as a whole is not only risk-free but of massive benefit to society, artistically and economically, and could make a significant contribution to kick-starting growth. However, I believe that this can only properly—that is, most efficiently—be achieved through public funding, because you need to support the grass roots as well as the mainstream, because philanthropy will only ever target the most prestigious organisations, and has a metropolitan bias.
For two years, the arts establishment has been patient and felt that it should wait its turn in the queue. But this is a false situation. The same government policy of ideologically driven public funding cuts is cutting back on state allowances, benefits, libraries, museums and symphony orchestras alike. The most devastating news last week was the prediction by the Local Government Association that a shortfall of £16.5 billion would mean an almost complete eradication of funding at the local level of arts and cultural services, including libraries, by 2020 unless there is a radical change in policy.
I will now turn to some specific issues. I have made the argument that the arts are distinct from the creative industries as now defined in that a financial goal is not the prime objective for the majority of artists and artists’ companies. At the same time central government needs to protect and encourage proper payment for artists in all disciplines, and on all occasions, as for any working person. This is part of the provision of a space in which the artist can operate and work.
There are numerous long-term concerns facing artists with regard to income, royalties and copyright, although a distinction in kind needs to be made between the protection of artists’ work and the obsessive protection of copyrighted logos such as the Olympic rings and London 2012, which has proved to be the most distasteful form of corporate bullying. For authors, among other issues, there is the concern about the public lending right, which ought to extend in practice to audio books and e-books, as provided for in the Digital Economy Act 2010.
There is also the question of proper royalties for visual artists. The upper threshold on which royalties administered by the Design and Artists Copyright Society are based is €11,500 for an artwork, irrespective of the sale price above that, a price set specifically to help the art trade. But there is a concern over a desire in some quarters to raise the current lower sale threshold from €1,000 to €3,000, which would affect many artists whose income is not high. I hope that the Minister can say that the Government will resist this and affirm their support for artists.
In the wider cultural sphere, on libraries, Ed Vaizey has queried the figure of 600 libraries under threat that I gave during Oral Questions last month, saying that this is simply a figure bandied around by the media. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals produced that figure. If I am at fault, it is in not realising quite how many libraries have already closed recently. Some of the 600 will be among the 122 that have closed in the single financial year 2011-12, according to the Public Libraries News website, which lists every single one of them. This independent website run by librarian Ian Anstice is certainly a much better source of information than the DCMS, which is not keeping a close enough eye on the situation, even though it is the Secretary of State who, under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, has the power to intervene. A library professional tells me that the figure of 600 threatened if the present cuts continue will soon be, in his words, “a gross underestimation”. For Ed Vaizey to say, as he did in his speech on 28 June at the Future of Library Services conference, that the libraries are “thriving” when many now have staff shortages and greatly reduced opening hours, suggests to me a Government in denial about the huge problems that libraries face.
On free admission to the national museums, I am very glad that last week the Evening Standard reversed its position. It now supports free admission and I hope that the Government will continue to maintain a policy that is so successful and popular with the public.
I understand that the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, will devote her speech to the hugely important area of arts education, which at school level should properly include both old and new technologies. I will just say that the EBacc still does not contain an art and design element.
The Cultural Olympiad is a festival of cultural exchange, so important for the long-term development of British art, and a real opportunity for sharing ideas between artists of different countries and cultures. It is good that the UKBA has been working closely with the Cultural Olympiad in facilitating the admission of the many visiting artists. I thank the Government and the UKBA for introducing the permitted paid engagements scheme outside the points-based system, which started in April and goes some way to answering some of the concerns around visiting artists. However, it is not perfect and significant improvements should be made. The one-month maximum time for a visit is too short. That artists should be full-time is simply not realistic; visual artists, poets and concert pianists, for example, have jobs in related or other areas that inform their work as artists and one paid engagement per visit is too limiting. It is also important that the details of the scheme are made more widely known both externally and internally, especially to front-line staff.
It is normally the Home Office that answers questions on this issue, but I wanted to raise what is primarily an arts matter in an arts debate. The DCMS should be taking a lead on these issues, and indeed the current Artists International Development Fund, jointly administered by the Arts Council and the British Council, may be very helpful to British artists’ career development.
Arts administrators are full of ideas about negotiating these difficult times, although public funding that addresses core functions and the day-to-day running of services is what is most urgently required. There is no more unhelpful cliché than that “the arts are resilient, they will survive”. The kind of government we have has a significant effect on the nature of our arts culture. A Government can be either a friend or a foe to the arts. The current reality is that government policy is causing companies to fold and hampering particularly young and emerging artists from carrying out their work effectively. I also believe that we in Parliament and certainly those in government are directing too much attention towards a more powerful centre and big business, when artists and those working in the arts and the cultural sector elsewhere are being neglected. In the long term this must change for the good of a thriving arts culture throughout the UK.
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for raising this debate and for his remarkably concise gallop through all the issues that I hope this debate will eventually cover. It is particularly timely because we are in the middle of what must be the biggest cultural festival this country has ever seen. For that, we are of course greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Hall, and his colleague Ruth Mackenzie—although if I were in the Minister’s position at this moment, I would be doing my best to claim every bit of credit I could lay my hands on.
I have a couple of points for the Minister to consider, if he would. First, as has already been raised by the noble Earl, what has nourished the energy and creativity that we see now is steady, sustained investment, not just of funds but of political support and recognition. Today, even in sadly depleted economic circumstances, the arts and culture are among our greatest strengths, not least in their contribution to GDP. We should celebrate that strength, and the people who create and support it.
The second lesson is that our success comes not only because we are exceptionally rich in talented artists, which we are, but because those artists are supported by, and in many cases are leading, highly entrepreneurial businesses within which public funds, though absolutely crucial—and I stress that—are by no means the only or even the main source of income. I am sorry if that offends the noble Earl, but I think it is important. The tired old tropes about how the arts need to be more businesslike, which we still hear all too often, are way out of date. These are modern, sophisticated businesses managing substantial risk with great skill and led by people of imagination, commitment, financial acumen and integrity—and I am afraid that I have to mention the noble Lord, Lord Hall, again because he is one of them. Can we say as much for some other, allegedly more businesslike sectors? I think not.
What can government do? I hope that the Minister has listened carefully to what the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, has just told us. The Government should keep up the investment, because the return is excellent; trust the practitioners; encourage local authorities; maintain a strong Arts Council led by people who know what they are talking about and let them get on with nurturing this highly successful sector from the ground up; and above all, have the courage to speak up unambiguously for the arts, whatever the public mood. Sometimes public taste has to be led, not followed. I hope that the Minister agrees and that he will be sharing with the House at the end of this debate a strategy for the arts and culture that gets behind success and gives it a hearty shove. I can promise him that the political dividend will be worth working for.
My Lords, speed-talking. Congratulations on the debate. Declare an interest: Lowry . I will concentrate on skills.
We on the Liberal Democrat Benches have campaigned long and hard on behalf of the creative industries, so I was particularly pleased about the introduction of tax cuts for video games, animation and high-level television production sectors, but obviously those need people who are skilled. The Next Gen. report drew attention to the fact that the way that ICT is being taught in schools is too narrow. So Michael Gove’s announcement in January that the current programme of study for ICT will be withdrawn in September, and that e-skills UK is creating a brand new GCSE which has computer science at its core, is excellent news. IT is a very male world—only 17% of the workforce is female—so the fact that e-skills UK has recently relaunched Computer Clubs for Girls is a very good thing too.
However central the understanding of technology has become to the creative industries, these industries are still underpinned by creativity itself, and Darren Henley's review of cultural education is another crucial element in tackling the skills deficit. It debunks the pernicious idea that children are wasting their time by studying cultural subjects. I am glad to say that the Henley review has been greeted with enthusiasm by the Secretary of State for Education. In response, the coalition Government have committed to immediately addressing 10 of its recommendations, including setting up a cross-departmental board, a new national youth dance company, national art and design Saturday clubs and working with teaching schools to improve the quality of teacher training in this area—which is very important. What is very disappointing, however, is that the inclusion of culture as a mandatory, sixth strand of the English baccalaureate and design as a STEM subject is not on this list.
I chaired a Westminster Education Forum recently and spoke to a headmaster who said, “I have head teachers who are cutting subjects from their key stage 4 curriculum in order to feed into the EBacc. So now the school is saying that geography is in the EBacc, drama is not. We really recommend that you do geography”.
As a result of another report by Darren Henley, we have the excellent national plan for music education, and I would encourage the Secretary of State to achieve the same in cultural education by embracing the whole report.
Before the noble Baroness interrupts me, I would like to say that I think it is appalling that I have only three minutes to talk on culture when we spend so much time on House of Lords reform.
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Earl on securing this debate three weeks into the London 2012 Festival, which is the best chance we have ever had to showcase the world-class nature of arts and culture in this country. I declare an interest as chair of the Cultural Olympiad board and chief executive of the Royal Opera House.
I would like to reflect a little on some of the things that we have learnt so far in respect of the festival. I remind noble Lords that there are 12,000 events featuring more than 25,000 leading artists from all 204 competing Olympic nations—no other country could do that. We wanted to attract the audiences. Some 80% of the audiences at Shakespeare’s Globe for “Globe to Globe” performances were new attendees, and 44% of people who booked for the RSC’s World Shakespeare Festival performances at Stratford-upon-Avon were also new attendees.
We also wanted to enable as many people as possible to experience the festival for free, so we created 10 million free opportunities to take part—3 million of these have already been taken up. We should not underestimate the power of free; some 10,000 people attended the opening concert in Derry/Londonderry, and tens of thousands attended the BBC’s Hackney Weekend. We should reflect on this as we plan for the future: free can work.
In its first three weeks, the festival has inspired the “Today” programme’s “Thought for the Day” twice. I had not thought of that as being a target, but there we are. It is a good indicator, I guess, because both occasions showed off the values and importance of the festival and the Cultural Olympiad. The first “Thought for the Day” was inspired by the first ever visit of the conductor Gustavo Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Orchestra to the social housing estate of Raploch, near Stirling, where children have been learning orchestral instruments under Sistema Scotland—the same system that produced Dudamel and his extraordinary orchestra. On a really wet night, but a brilliant night, it showed the power of sustained investment in musical education to reach places that other things simply do not reach. That is an essential part of any strategy for the arts going forward, and I very much hope that the Henley review will be committed to it with real resource for many years to come.
The second “Thought for the Day” was inspired by the concert of homeless people at the Royal Opera House, organised by Streetwise Opera. This is the first time that it has ever happened in an Olympic or Paralympic official festival and we were glad to have them there. It was as profoundly moving as the concert in Raploch. Again it sent out a strong message to the world about the values of this country and the importance of the arts to regenerate and inspire communities and individuals, and again it demonstrated the power of creativity to give confidence and to raise self-esteem. Both events illustrate the importance of the London 2012 Festival’s power to generate interest right around the world, as well as in the UK, and to show the world the value we place not just on the importance of art but on the importance of free artistic expression.
Today, for me, the big question is how we ensure that this is not just a once-in-a-lifetime event but that it is sustained in the future so that even more people are given similar opportunities.
I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for introducing this debate, and obviously I must declare my interests. I have spent every day of my working life in the creative sector and have been lucky enough to witness extraordinary home-grown talent across the board, from musicians and designers to actors, logistics specialists and even video providers. Every day I see how the ripples of a successful creative industry are wide-reaching and affect all aspects of our lives. We underestimate this at our peril.
There is a simple truth that should lie at the heart of this debate: Britain still leads the world in the creative industries. However, this leading role is dependent on a complicated and fragile amalgamation of heritage, culture and investment, particularly in education and opportunity—not to mention raw talent and government support for that raw talent. If austerity Britain ignores that fact, we will surely ignore the fact that Britain is a talent hub that creates production and content that resonate around the globe. I cannot help but feel that in this cult of austerity Britain, the Government are turning their back on one of their most promising and extraordinary world-leading sectors. It is a sector that is under fire. Arts funding is under unimaginable strain, creative agencies have been cut, a recent example being the Film Council, and—an obsessional interest of mine—some university music departments are having to close, such as that at the University of East Anglia.
I want to be clear, and if I appear a little nervous, it is because I want to say that our vast creative potential is being strangled without any clear funding strategy for its long-term future. In 1972, when I had seven productions touring the world, I remember being asked by Sir Keith Joseph, then the Minister of Housing and Local Government, whether any British theatre was exportable. I fear that some of that same lack of acknowledgement and awareness still exist today. We have to challenge the mindset of the Government.
Without the private funding and the support of many private individuals and institutions up and down the country, the situation that I describe would be so much worse; in many ways it might be irretrievable. However, it is no good for the Government to think that they can rely on benefactors for ever. So I ask the Government urgently to consider a clear formula for a public-private partnership that ensures that there is a more mutual and solidly funded foundation for the—I hate to use the word “industry”—arts.
If I were the Chancellor of the Exchequer and invited as a guest into the “Dragons’ Den”—obviously I have not been; and if I were him, I would not want to be—and someone brought to me a proposal to invest in nurturing British creative talent across the board, I would invest in it here, now and immediately. It is time that the Government did.
My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Earl for securing this important debate. I begin with a statistic: 15% of the population, 1% of the funding. Whether you find this as shocking as I do will depend on your attitude to the population group that it refers to, so let me tell you that the 15% refers to children up to the age of 12 and that 1% is their share of public funding for the arts. Perhaps now you find it shocking. This inequality was revealed at a conference held last month by the national charity, Action for Children’s Arts, of which I declare an interest as a patron.
The conference was called “Putting Children First”, and the finding was based on freedom of information requests made by the charity to the national arts funding bodies—the four UK arts councils and the BFI as well as 20 of the UK’s national arts organisations—asking what proportion of their budgets was spent on provision where children were the intended audience. It is our responsibility to make sure that there is enough cultural life to go around and that more than 1% of it is left for children when we have all had our share.
Ethel Merman said: “We spend the first three years of a child’s life teaching them to walk and talk, then spend the next 10 years telling them to sit down and shut up”. We should never forget how important the arts are in forming children’s minds and giving them insight into the world they live in. We adults give them artistic and cultural messages telling them, “This is what life is about”. They soak up that information. It stays with them for ever and in turn will encourage them to become creators themselves. We must get those messages right by giving them the highest-quality cultural stimulation so that they can use their imagination to be creative, which will allow them to live fulfilling lives free from the shackles of mediocrity and will redeem those who have taken the dangerous path to gang crime, drug culture and anti-social behaviour.
The Government’s long-term strategy for the arts and cultural sector must give children a higher priority. There must be incentives through the funding system of our great cultural organisations for them all to take their share of responsibility for our children’s right to culture and the arts. Children are not just the audiences of tomorrow; they are also the audiences of today in their own right and they deserve much more than 1% of the arts budget funding to give them the necessary food for their soul. Can my noble friend assure the House that the Government will encourage arts funding organisations to increase the percentage of funding they give to children’s arts and start putting children first?
My Lords, I have had to cut the congratulations to my noble friend and the welcome to the Minister. I will focus on private support for the arts and on classical music, including music education.
Corporate support for the arts fell to its lowest level for seven years in 2010-11, which was mistakenly designated the “year of corporate giving” to the arts. I am not surprised. I was responsible for IBM’s UK arts sponsorship in the late 1980s when it was already being overtaken by newer forms of advertising and brand promotion. Future corporate support for the arts is likely to be driven either by corporate responsibility goals, when investment in the arts is seen as achieving social or community aims, or by direct business relevance, when the arts help businesses to do better by increasing their creativity or flexibility.
The prospects for individual support are better. The Government were right to recognise, eventually, that donors need to be properly recognised and certainly not treated like potential tax-dodgers. Individual fundraising needs to be spread much more widely outside London, which received 81% of all individual arts giving in the year to March 2011. Arts strategies should include the promotion of good practice in fundraising through, for example, peer-to-peer advice and support among smaller arts organisations.
Other government priorities include broadening audiences and embracing new technologies. The national plan for music education is a welcome approach to the first of these, and I hope that all schools will be encouraged to engage with it. Efforts to promote the use of digital technology in the arts are fine, so long as technology is recognised primarily as an enabler—it has been described to me as the greatest discovery since the invention of the bucket for encouraging donations. I was delighted to learn that “The Space”, a new free “digital pop-up arts channel”—whatever that means—developed by the Arts Council and the BBC, has provided a live streaming of Berlioz’s opera “The Trojans” from Covent Garden, and I declare an interest as a trustee of the Berlioz Society.
Access is important, of course, but aspiration and accomplishment in the arts are even more so. In the current straitened times, the arts should take, and have taken, their share of necessary funding cuts, but care is needed not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. The strength of the music scene in the UK owes much to the number of talented musicians who come to study, teach and perform at our world-class conservatoires: the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama each have over 50 nationalities among their students. Training top-rank musicians, like training scientists or doctors, is expensive, but it helps to create a valuable revenue-earning asset for the UK. A new study by the LSE on behalf of these three conservatoires shows that even during the recession the creative industries continue to act as engines of economic growth and innovation for the UK. The sector is estimated to have generated some £25 billion in 2010, and the presence of institutions such as the conservatoires helps to fuel this through what the LSE calls “agglomeration”.
How do the Government seek to encourage more private support for the arts in the regions outside London? What will they do to encourage all schools to engage with their local music hubs? Will music education be formally included in the key stage 3 and 4 curriculum and in the EBacc? Can the Minister give a reassurance that the UK’s leading conservatoires will continue to receive the funding they need to develop world-class musicians and to attract top musical talent to the UK?
My Lords, as vice-chairman of the All-Party Group for Dance and a former governor of the Royal Ballet and the Royal Academy of Dance, I intend to dwell on dance this evening. The prestige and super standards of the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet attract not only international audiences but international performers from around the world, but there are many other dance companies, in London and in the regions: the Rambert Dance Company, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Northern Ballet and the Scottish Ballet, to name but a few. They are equally international and do an enormous amount to bring ballet to the people with their touring companies and outreach programmes. Large numbers of young people who would not have dreamt of it before are now considering ballet as a career—mind you, “Billy Elliot” probably had quite a lot to do with that. All these companies also demonstrate the work of some dynamic young choreographers, who are, after all, our future.
Dance comes into my definition of soft diplomacy and improves multicultural understanding and good will. Only last week, there were two events in Westminster Hall—the Commonwealth Carnival of Music and an Indian dance group performance on Thursday—emphasising the cultural diversity of our country and, indeed, of our Parliament. I feel sure that in your Lordships’ House I do not need to enlarge further on the contribution made by classical ballet in particular and by dance in general to the artistic life of this country. The object of this short debate is to ask what the Government’s long-term strategy is. It is vital. My objective is to plead that dance be recognised as a full and important part of that strategy.
Adequate funding is, of course, important, but there are also other ways of supporting and encouraging this part of the performing arts. Joined-up government is of equal importance to ensure, for example, that dance teachers are not forgotten when teacher training and the school syllabus are under discussion, so both education departments need to be involved. Tax incentives have been mentioned, and that brings the Treasury in. The visa regime also impinges on performing artists and on students coming to train and study in this country, and paying their way to do so, so the Home Office needs to be involved. Health can also be relevant, and I welcome the new National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, which now operates from within the National Health Service and specialises in dance injuries. The Foreign Office, too, underlines the contribution of soft diplomacy and brings in the British Council, and so it goes on.
It is not just that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has to take the lead; it also has to act as co-ordinator. I look forward to hearing from my noble friend the Minister and I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for giving us this opportunity.
I wish to speak about a sector in which the UK leads the world—the television industry, particularly our thriving independent production sector. Figures published last week show that the indie sector now generates revenue of around £2.4 billion. This continued growth is due in great part to the Communications Act 2003, which corrected market failures in commissioning and allowed producers to keep their own intellectual property.
The recession has had an impact—figures produced for the trade association PACT show that primary UK commissions are down and that profit margins have fallen. The only indies showing a growth in profitability are the mid-sized ones, and it is a reminder of the contribution to the SME sector—Channel 4 alone works with more than 420 suppliers.
The big success story is in the independent sector export market, which increased more than 15% last year. The UK is a major exporter of programmes. “Downton Abbey”, for example, has been resold across the globe, while in many countries, inexplicably, Jeremy Clarkson is worshipped as a god. The creativity of the independent sector has made the UK the world leader in formats, so programmes such as “Come Dine with Me”, “Who do You think You Are” and “Strictly Come Dancing” have been turned into local programmes across the globe. Channel 4, commissioning only from the independent sector, has supported films that have won 14 Oscars in the past six years—and who else would televise the Turner Prize?
Markets are well established in Europe and the English-speaking world, but there is huge potential for growth in the emerging markets. In Latin America last year, export sales rose by 16%. PACT is clear that there is much more scope for growth, so can I ask the Minister to use his best endeavours to speed up the co-production treaty with Brazil? The next communications Bill must maintain the strengths of the sector by protecting the copyright regime and focusing the terms of trade on maintaining growth and competition.
A contributor to the vibrancy of the sector has been the independent production quota and the out-of-London quotas, and these must be maintained. You have only to look at the new creative hubs in south Wales and Salford to see the impact that this can have. In Scotland, around 3,000 people are employed in the sector. What is the Government’s view of granting STV Productions independent producer status, which would allow it to grow further and attain critical mass?
As my noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter said, tax incentives for specific genres have a proven impact and need to be kept and, where effective, extended.
We can be rightly proud of the variety and quality of UK television and its contribution to our cultural life. Our responsibility in Parliament and in government is to work with the industry to maintain it.
My Lords, I remind the House of my interests as chairman of trustees at the Donmar Warehouse theatre and at the Wordsworth Trust.
A starting point should also be an acknowledgement that the Government have taken some welcome steps in arts policy. They have, I am delighted to say, maintained the policy of free admission to our national museums and galleries. They have sustained the film tax relief, which has been such an important element in sustaining an independent film industry here in the UK. They have revived the Renaissance in the Regions programme for regional museums, and they have given in recent weeks some very welcome boosts to private philanthropy in relation to the arts.
We should also acknowledge that in hard financial times Arts Council England has shown some very considerable skill, under the leadership of Liz Forgan and Alan Davey, in helping the arts sector to weather the economic storms that are now around it. However, those storms are real and there are now severe financial difficulties ahead for the entire arts sector—not just difficulties in government funding but in the catastrophic falls in local authority funding in many parts of the country, coupled with a private and corporate giving sector that is under some considerable strain.
In addition to those financial difficulties, I do not believe there is yet enough clarity from the Government in the long-term strategy for the arts. What ought the key elements of such a strategy to be? It should be based, I believe, on four fundamental pillars: first, excellence—supporting the best possible work, which means including risk and innovation; secondly, access—ensuring that the widest number of people have access to the best possible work; thirdly, education—building on the real success of the Creative Partnerships programme to give pupils in schools up and down the country a real start in being creative and understanding creativity; and, fourthly, supporting the creative economy, which is linked fundamentally with the more traditional arts sector.
We have, over the past 10 or 14 years or so, been living through something of a golden age in the arts in this country. I like to think that the Government, in whom I had a part, played a small part in supporting that golden age. I plead with the Government to dedicate themselves to sustaining it.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Clancarty for securing this debate, particularly since many of the arts and creative practitioners with whom I work are hard put to identify what the coalition wants from the sector, what its expectations are and how it is going to support its growth and develop its resilience. There have been some helpful initiatives, but it is not clear how they constitute the Government’s wider landscape of ambition for the arts and creative sectors.
We are fond of boasting of our creative achievements and success on the global stage. Indeed, the Cultural Olympiad, the cultural festival, is an exemplar of that ambition and that reach, taking it all to a much higher level than previously. Our achievements on the world stage are rightly lauded. We also, through our creative industries and the arts, contribute to the economy and to the social fabric of the country. However, these are somehow consistently undervalued when it comes to funding and public words of support. How else can we explain the lack of attention given to developing a sustainable, appropriately financed strategy that will ensure that the sector continues to thrive?
Our creative successes in film, theatre and so on have come about through a combination of sheer hard work and the creative talent in the sector, and public funds allocated to support those efforts. For the arts ecology to thrive, there is a need for creative diversity, scale, capacity, risk-taking and innovation, which has been described as something collective, but also something uncertain,
“with high failure rates but also high returns, with the state often undertaking the greatest degree of risk and uncertainty. And third, it is cumulative innovation today that builds on innovation yesterday”.
Working with practitioners in the north of England has made me much more aware of how London-centric policy-making in the arts is. Philanthropy is a case in point; for many smaller and regional arts organisations, the debate about tax relief and donations had rather less urgency about it than it did for the London-based national arts organisations. We need a different model to encourage and build on private patronage, and donations, when different relationships exist between benefactor and organisations.
It is vital that the Government look at ways of supporting growth in the sector, particularly in regions where there is strong potential for developing a distinctive cultural offer that taps into areas with a strong sense of regional identity and the creative talent that can articulate such a vision. If we lose the capacity and appetite to invest in risk-taking, we will not hold our place as the home of some of the most creative practitioners in the world for long.
My Lords, I am delighted to add my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for introducing this debate, and to add my welcome to my noble friend Lord Younger, as he assumes his ministerial responsibility.
It has been a wide-ranging, although brief, debate at a gallop. I would just say to my noble friend who will respond that we desperately need a coherent strategy for the arts, heritage and cultural affairs in this country. The noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, was right in giving his list of criteria, and I commend them to my noble friend, but I want to make two points.
In 1974, I helped the late Andrew Faulds to found the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group, which has become over the subsequent 38 years the largest group of its kind in Parliament—and I like to think that we have achieved something. We have lobbied Ministers constantly to try to give two things that those involved in the arts need above all others. First, there is the recognition that a little goes a long way in this field; we are not talking vast sums in the context of the national Budget. The other thing is that arts and heritage organisations need a degree of continuity and to be able to plan with some certainty for the future.
A couple of weeks ago we had an excellent debate, which I was privileged to introduce, on the future of English cathedrals. In that debate I called for an endowment fund for English cathedrals, and I commend that suggestion to my noble friend. In all fields of the built visual arts, that sort of endowment fund would produce returns far in excess of the investment. Tourists and visitors to this country are drawn as by a magnet to our arts and our great historic buildings.
In conclusion, I am privileged to chair an organisation called the William Morris Craft Fellowship. We need to encourage in our young in our schools the belief that to do things with the hands is every bit as worthy as to do other things. Indeed, I would say that a degree in media studies does not begin to compare in importance or satisfaction with the creation of a fine piece of sculpture or repairing a great historic building. We need to encourage more of our young people to take up careers in the crafts. I hope that my noble friend, with his manifold responsibilities, will talk to his colleagues in government and say that that ought to be a priority. If we truly believe in apprenticeships, there are no more worthy ones than craft apprenticeships.
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Earl for tabling this Question this evening. In many ways, it is an indictment of this Government that the question at the heart of the debate has to be asked. However, I welcome the noble Viscount, Lord Younger, to his new role. I hope that he has taken note of the very powerful messages from around the Chamber this evening and I look forward to hearing what I hope will be an enlightening and reassuring response.
I do not want to dwell on Jeremy Hunt’s recent misfortune, but the context for this debate is a department that has been struggling with a lack of leadership for some time, so much so that there are persistent rumours that it will be abolished altogether at the reshuffle. The creative industries need a stronger voice in government and a stronger Secretary of State at the Cabinet table, not no voice at all, and they need a champion for a coherent arts and culture strategy across government, working with the Treasury, BIS and the Department for Education, for example, as our party intends to do.
In the short time I have left, let me give some illustrations of what should be included in that strategy. First, on funding, the Government need to identify the role that culture can play in leading us out of recession. The creative industries already account for 8% of our GDP and have the potential to grow at double the rate of any other sector. Philanthropy may have a role, but it should not be expected to plug the gap left by receding public subsidy and it has a limited reach—for example, 81% of private giving goes to organisations in London. As we have heard this evening, arts organisations need financial confidence and certainty to maximise the contribution that they can make to our future prosperity.
Secondly, we need to address the crisis in regional and local funding. On top of 28% cuts so far, the Local Government Association calculates that local authority funding for the arts will have all but disappeared by 2020. This cannot be allowed to happen. Community arts are where our next generation of writers, performers and artists learn their skills, and access should not be the preserve of those living in the metropolitan areas. This is why we need a statutory duty on all local councils to support the arts in their area.
Thirdly, we need an international strategy that recognises that the cultural industries not only attract inward investment but are major exports of this country. We are a major global player in, for example, design, music, animation and film, so next time David Cameron and Vince Cable lead a trade delegation abroad, perhaps they should be accompanied by our cultural rather than our manufacturing leaders.
Finally, we need to address the glaring mismatch between, on the one hand, the Education Secretary’s agenda, in which creativity, art and design, music and the performing arts are all but squeezed out, and, on the other hand, the skills demanded by the cultural leaders and innovators who will be contributing to our economic wealth in the future. These are the sorts of issues that we would like to see highlighted in a long-term strategy. Without it, as this debate has shown, the potential of the arts risks being set back for a generation.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, on securing this debate. It gives me particular pleasure to respond this evening on my first occasion at the Dispatch Box, as the noble Earl and I entered this House at about the same time two years ago. As a Member of this House who continues to keep arts and cultural issues on the agenda of this Chamber, he is to be applauded. He may not be surprised to hear that I do not entirely share his views on the current status of the arts. I am pleased to hear that others, such as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, take a slightly more positive view. I also thank other Members for their contributions to our discussion. I particularly appreciate some support from the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, but I recognise his highlighting of some strains at a time of austerity, which we are all aware of. I shall endeavour to answer the points raised and I can write to those noble Lords whose points I do not have time to address.
First, arts and culture is a hugely broad topic and the need for support, while very important, has to be prioritised and constantly reviewed. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport covers communications, creative, media, cultural, tourism, sport and leisure economies. It also includes ballet and dance, so importantly raised by my noble friend Lady Hooper. A key resolve is to create the conditions for growth in this sector by removing barriers, providing strategic direction and supporting innovation and creativity. These points have been made succinctly by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey. Our overarching strategy is to see a thriving and resilient arts and cultural sector, drawing from a range of funding sources, appealing to a wide range of audiences and delivering high-quality culture. There are three strands to our long-term arts vision: financial stability, philanthropy and attracting new audiences.
First, I shall focus on financial support, where we have to start with some home truths. The first priority of this Government remains to create financial stability across the UK. Regrettably, this means sharing some pain—in some cases considerable pain—across all sectors of society. Of course, I would have preferred no cut to the arts and culture sector at all, but it would be unrealistic for cuts to be made in all other parts of the public sector except the arts. At the time of the 2010 spending review, departmental budgets, other than health and overseas aid, were set to reduce by an average of 19% over four years. However, while Arts Council England overall faces a significantly reduced budget, we have limited the reduction in the budget for regularly funded arts organisations to 15%, offering a little protection for front-line arts. Taking account of lottery as well as government funding, the Arts Council will receive some £2.3 billion over the next four years. This means that, in 2014-15, total arts funding via the Arts Council will have reduced by less than 5% in real terms, set against the comparable figure in 2010-11.
Now let me turn to lottery funding. One of the first decisions that we took in government was to revert the National Lottery to its original aims of supporting the four good causes by restoring the shares for each of the good causes of sport, heritage and the arts to 20%. The fourth good cause is the Big Lottery Fund, representing 40%. Due to continuing strong ticket sales, income projections indicate that there should be more than £1 billion of extra lottery funding for the good causes over the next five years, when compared with September 2010 projections. The arts good cause can expect to receive more than £1.8 billion of lottery money over the life of this Parliament. This is over £200 million more than was projected in September 2010.
Philanthropy was highlighted by some of your Lordships. I begin with a thought from Andrew Carnegie in 1888 that still resonates today. He said that to give money is,
“the noblest possible use of wealth … The man who dies rich dies disgraced”.
We have achieved much with regard to philanthropy in a short space of time. For example, we have launched the Catalyst scheme, whereby £30 million has been given to arts and heritage organisations to encourage match funding, and £55 million has been given to arts and heritage bodies to build up endowments. This was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Cormack. The Secretary of State last month commissioned three further reports to look at making legacy giving easier, harnessing digital technology to boost charitable giving to the culture and heritage sectors and looking at ways in which we can boost fundraising outside London, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, mentioned. He also mentioned the importance of digital technology. I will need to write to him regarding his question on support for the conservatoires.
Some in the past have suggested that philanthropy is a means to replace public spending. Let me tackle this head on. It is simply untrue. As soon as this Government came to power, we carried out a comprehensive spending review as part of our strategy, whereby arts and cultural bodies such as the Arts Council, English Heritage and our major national museums knew the level of funding that they would receive over the period. We then encouraged the Arts Council to make the bodies that it supports aware of their budgets at the earliest opportunity, a request that it carried out in a speedy and professional manner. This was not an easy time for the sector or the Arts Council. Here, I pay tribute to the chair and chief executive of the Arts Council for the way in which it handled some difficult decisions. It is right not to assume that organisations that have received regular funding in the past should have a right to that funding in the future.
The third part of our strategy is to draw new audiences into the arts by, for example, utilising new technology. Last May, Arts Council England, in partnership with the BBC, launched a new free digital arts service, the Space, which could help to transform the way in which people connect with and experience arts and culture. Last summer, Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts—known as NESTA—announced a new £500,000 digital research and development fund for arts and culture projects that harness digital technologies to connect with wider audiences and explore new ways of working. Of course, nothing will ever replace the live experience, but if a child in Cumbria can watch a production 300 miles away from the National Theatre or Sadler’s Wells, we can proudly say that our investment in the arts can benefit the whole nation.
We also wish, through Arts Council England, for more people to experience and be inspired by the arts, irrespective of where they live or their social, educational or financial circumstances. To support this strategy, the Creative People and Places Fund will focus investment in places where involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average. A total of £37 million from the arts lottery fund will be available to establish around 15 projects up to 2015.
When considering the wide reach of the arts across social groups, it is worth highlighting a finding from our Taking Part survey. When respondents were asked whether they had been to a museum or gallery on at least one occasion in the past 12 months, two socio-demographic groups had significantly increased their visits between 2005-06 and 2011-12: among black and ethnic minority respondents there was an increase of 10.7 percentage points to 61.4%; and from those in the social rented sector there was an increase of 9.2 percentage points to 55.6%.
I would like to touch briefly on the Wedgwood collection on the grounds that, although the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, has not raised it this evening, I know that it is a subject dear to his heart. The collection is designated as being of national importance; it is deemed by UNESCO to be one of the UK’s top 20 cultural assets. The collection holds several separate but nevertheless interrelated collections. It includes not only the most comprehensive accumulation of Wedgwood ceramics in Britain, if not the world, but also a huge range of portrait medallions from the 1780s through to today and some exceptionally rare and important surviving original stonework block moulds. This is why the DCMS Culture Minister is working hard behind the scenes, holding meetings in recent days with other government Ministers.
I turn to the question of libraries. Between 2005 and 2010, there was a steady decrease in the proportion of adults visiting public libraries. However, over the past two years visits have remained stable and it is very encouraging to see that the downward trend has slowed. A figure of 600 library closures is regularly quoted in the media, but this is misleading because it includes libraries where a local authority is merely consulting on a library’s future service and it assumes the worst-case scenario. It also includes libraries that have passed into community management.
Before I conclude, I turn to one or two other comments from your Lordships. I pay tribute to the contribution from my noble friend Lord Lloyd-Webber, who has given incalculable support to arts and culture not just in the UK but also globally. I do not entirely share his view of the arts in Britain, but I entirely agree that we need to nurture creative talent so that Britain continues to lead the world in this area. I also pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, for the work that he has done towards the Cultural Olympiad, which was also highlighted by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Hudnall. I would turn very briefly to Brazil and the Scottish television questions, but I have run out of time.
In conclusion, I have attempted to answer as fully as possible on the specific focus of the debate, namely the Government’s long-term strategy for the arts and culture sector. We take our responsibility to the future of arts and culture very seriously. With our focus on financial stability, philanthropy and new audiences, we shall create the opportunity for everyone to enjoy and participate in artistic and cultural performances and attract foreign visitors for many years to come.