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Cultural and Creative Industries: Diversity

Volume 796: debated on Monday 11 March 2019


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact on the diversity of those working in the cultural and creative industries of the low levels of provision of arts subjects at A-Level to those living in areas of the highest deprivation.

My Lords, the Government recognise the need for our cultural and creative industries to reflect the diversity of modern society. We are committed to ensuring that children enjoy a broad curriculum, including the arts, and are investing almost £500 million in arts education programmes between 2016 and 2020. The Government are also investing £2 million in a UK-wide creative careers programme which will improve awareness among young people of the careers that studying creative subjects can lead to.

My Lords, contrary to the popular belief that talent is what counts, Labour Force Survey data shows that the creative industries are increasingly dominated by people born into privilege. In music and publishing, just 10% of the workforce is from working-class origins. I welcome the Government’s investment in the creative careers programme, which will signpost pathways into the sector more broadly. Can the noble Viscount say how the programme’s success will be assessed? Would he also consider encouraging employers to monitor socioeconomic diversity in the workplace, using the Government’s recommended measures, published last year?

The noble Baroness is right to raise the importance of young people engaging in the arts. She raised the subject of the creative careers programme. This is a major programme and the Government are working with industry and inputting £2 million of seed funding. The way it will work is that leading figures from industry will visit schools across the country, including in areas of high deprivation, to offer advice and inspire young people who would not typically consider a career in the creative industries to do so. The Government will monitor this programme with care.

My Lords, notwithstanding what the noble Viscount said about the Government’s intention to invest in better information about careers in the creative industries, would he agree that the mixed messages from Government over the last few years have meant that, in a number of schools, parents, teachers and students are unwilling to see the creative industries as a potential source of employment? Could he also tell the House what efforts, if any, the Government are currently making to get Russell Group universities to widen their very restrictive facilitating subjects list?

The noble Baroness makes an important point about careers; it seems to be a theme. The Government launched the Careers & Enterprise Company, which was established in 2014, to help link schools and colleges to employers and to increase young people’s exposure to the world of work. The National Careers Service provides free careers information, which will help not only pupils but head teachers, teachers and parents. This is very important and the strategy identifies the Gatsby benchmarks, which the noble Baroness will know about.

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, while 64% of schools in areas of least deprivation provide music at A-level, in areas of highest deprivation that figure is a shocking 14%? Is this not damning evidence that access to music education is becoming the preserve of the rich and elite? Will my noble friend agree that the only way to reverse this intolerable situation is wholesale reform of the English baccalaureate, which is forcing music out of state schools? I remind noble Lords of my interest as chairman of the Royal College of Music.

My noble friend will know that I do not agree with what he said about the baccalaureate. Having said that, he will know, because it was announced by my noble friend Lord Agnew, that we have a national plan for musical education. We are working on this during 2019 and we are engaging with a lot of stakeholders. My noble friend makes an important point and we will take this very seriously.

My Lords, picking up on something the noble Lord, Lord Black, said, Arts Council England has an Artsmark award—a quality mark awarded by ACE to schools that are embedding creative learning in their curriculum. Does the Minister agree that Ofsted should do the same and that no school should be marked “Outstanding” unless this is the case?

I will certainly take that message back to Ofsted. I think I mentioned that Ofsted is, subject to consultation, taking a much more serious view on arts being taught in schools. That is something I will take back, particularly for areas of high deprivation.

My Lords, some organisations working with some of the poorest people in our society have identified access to arts and culture as a human right. What are the Government doing to make sure that children in some of the poorest areas and from the poorest families have adequate access to arts teaching in their schools?

Much of the money channelled to this area comes through Arts Council England, which has supported a number of programmes aiming to address barriers to access, including the National Youth Dance Company and Youth Music, which focuses on providing music-making opportunities for disadvantaged children. Youth Music projects support 75,000 disadvantaged children. There are other ways the money can be channelled into these very important areas.

My Lords, I reiterate what was said by the noble Lord, Lord—forgive me, he is the current chairman of the Royal College of Music and is actually my successor in that post, so I declare my interest. This is incredibly embarrassing; it is the high blood pressure as you get up to speak, basically.

The metrics show very clearly that music education improves literacy and memory, short-term and long-term.

My Lords, I am musically ill-educated. It also, of course, improves collaboration and emotional development. It is very important for children. Most schools I visit show very clearly that there is not nearly enough music available to them.

I hope my own memory serves me right, but music goes further than that. The noble Lord makes some very good points, because music impacts beneficially on mental health, where there are issues in areas of high deprivation in particular. We all know that Gareth Malone, who springs to mind, has done a lot of very good work in this area.

May I remind my noble friend of the enormous contribution made to musical education by the cathedrals of this country?

This has certainly cropped up before; my noble friend often mentions one in particular. That is certainly noted.

My Lords, has the Minister noticed that one of the astonishing growth industries in the creative sector is finding new, elaborate and innovative ways to avoid a meaningful vote?

I am not sure I shall answer that. I am not sure know how applicable it is to the particular subject matter.