Motion to Take Note
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for coming today. I have no doubt that we are all going to benefit hugely from the rich array of experts, innovators, educators, business leaders and creators in this House who will give of their wisdom to the Government, trying to impress upon them the need to turbocharge their level of commitment to the creative sector in both policy and spending. I greatly look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Spencer of Alresford—if I have the pronunciation wrong, I trust that someone will correct me. I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, to his place. He shows a keen interest in his portfolio.
There is not a noble Lord in this House who does not value the creative sector—at least, I trust that is the case. That applies to the Benches opposite too; it would be churlish not to acknowledge the Culture Recovery Fund thrown, albeit late, to a sector reeling from the repercussions of Covid and Brexit. I hope we will hear today from some of those to whom that really was a lifeline, and that this impresses upon the Government the value of the creative sector to people in every part of this country. But it was the 11th hour when the realisation dawned that this sector, which contributes so massively to the economy—at over £115 billion gross value added in 2019—and which was growing at five times the rate of the rest of the UK economy before the pandemic, was going under. I thank the Government for that fund.
There is not a huge amount in the spending review to say thank you for, but as the Government tend to deflect all criticisms by holding up such fig leaves to hide a lack of genuine priority, drive and belief in the sector, and to save the Minister from doing it at the end, I will do it for them. I genuinely thank the Government for the extension of tax relief for museums, galleries, theatres and orchestras, the £850 million in post-pandemic support for culture and heritage institutions, and the £14 million a year in scale-up funding for creative SMEs. The problem is that the true priority the Government give to the sector lies behind those fig leaves.
The DfE Secretary of State’s letter to the Office for Students demonstrates this precisely. It says that courses that are not among the Government’s
“strategic priorities—covering subjects in music, dance, drama and performing arts; art and design; media studies; and archaeology—are to be subject to a reduction of 50 per cent”,
and, further, that the Office for Students
“should reprioritise funding towards the provision of high-cost, high-value subjects”—
suggesting that creative subjects are not of high value—and that the Government
“would then potentially seek further reductions”
in years to come.
Then there is the EBacc, where arts are excluded completely, and the lack of action on the vanished £90 million-a-year arts premium promised by the Treasury in March 2020. In the meeting yesterday, it was mooted that the money could be in the DfE settlement; let us see if the DfE actually allocates it to that purpose. What do we actually see, educationally speaking? A couple of most welcome but inadequate T-levels, because there is no evidence or conviction that the work is being done with employers to deliver even these small policies.
We have only to examine the way the Government negotiated the Brexit deal to understand the value they place on our creative community. For example, our music industry contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019—which was obviously before Covid—yet when Brexit slapped our touring musicians and performers in the face, it was clear that no thought at all had been given to this during negotiations. Why? Why were these issues not high on the Government’s agenda before the catastrophe? It hardly supports the Government’s claim of how important the creative sector is to them when there have been 11 different Secretaries of State in DCMS in the last 11 years, serving about a year each. That is a pretty clear indication of the priority and importance that the Government award the portfolio. Although I am not prone to biblical quotations
“By their actions shall ye know them”.
I could go on and on, but your Lordships will be relieved that I will not. The point I am trying to drive home is that the Government have signalled so clearly, at home and to the whole world, that the UK creative sector is not a priority or important, whereas the message should be the exact opposite: it should be one of the top priorities on the government agenda. It is our secret weapon and our soft power success. I am sure that many of the issues noble Lords raise in today’s debate will helpfully point the Government in the direction of actions they must take to encourage, support and grow the sector. This is a moment of both opportunity and necessity, to build back better and level up by using the talents of the most precious commodity we have: our human capital in our unique and original thinkers.
From McKinsey’s 2018 report, Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce, we know that creativity, critical thinking, decision-making and complex information processing are going to grow in the coming decade from an already high base. Our children and young people must not be fodder in educational sausage factories where creative thinking cannot flourish. No one should be enslaved by conformity. Not only is that a liberal mantra; it is also the credo for the future economic success of our nation. From Realizing 2030: A Divided Vision of the Future, a report by Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future, we know that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet, and that 56% of business leaders say schools will need to teach how to learn, not what to learn, if students are going to be prepared for that. From the World Economic Forum 2020 report, we know that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 and that creativity, originality and initiative are in the top 10 skills.
So, it has been rough. Along with Brexit, Covid and diminishing fees from streaming, festivals, concerts, theatres, broadcast and record production, print magazines and arts teaching have been decimated, and this has undermined those working in the creative industries. Individuals have been squeezed to the point where their ability to maintain a professional living is vastly diminished, especially with living costs racing in the other direction. Those employers on whom much of the sector depends, whether directly or through production companies, are either cutting back or under threat. Imported production is not enough to take up the slack. Publisher advances for all but the top 150 novelists have all but disappeared. The position for poets and playwrights who are not screenwriters is dire. Local authority cuts are hitting not only local venues and museums but performers who work in the very important care and therapeutic sectors.
As I said, English universities are being told to cut arts subjects and those universities that have creative subject departments are awaiting with dread the Augar review implementation. Many in the arts rely on part-time teaching, research posts and freelance lecturing to supplement their artistic income. Outlets for visual artists, the private galleries that often depend on tourists and customers with high disposable income, are struggling. Not everything is suitable for selling online, and galleries are increasing the commission they charge artists because of rising rent rates and digital costs.
The inflexibility and complexity of the benefits system mean there is very little support for those in the creative sector. They are among those for whom some form of guaranteed basic income would make a huge difference, for the rules and regulations governing universal credit make it utterly unsuitable for those in the creative sectors.
There is nothing we need more in terms of building back better, levelling up and recovering from Brexit and Covid, which are, after all, stated government priorities, than the creative minds that will enable the UK to “STEAM” ahead. I said “STEAM” and I mean that. The Government make a false distinction between art and science; both are vital to advance the human condition.
On levelling up, of all sectors, the creative sector is the one that is growing in parts of the country that need new employment opportunities. For example, according to the Creative Industries Federation, between 2011 and 2020, jobs in the creative industries grew by 68% in the north-east and 61% in Yorkshire and Humber. Kingston University carried out interviews with major businesses outside the creative sector, including Deloitte, Mastercard and Lidl, and a weighted sample of 2,000 UK employers to find the answer to two questions: what challenges the UK faces in remaining globally competitive—having Brexited, that will be even more important—and what skills businesses are looking for to meet those challenges over the next 10 to 20 years. Its findings are absolutely decisive. Business across all sectors prioritise creative problem-solving skills and identify emerging economies as the key threat to the UK, because countries such as China and Singapore are investing in these skills to absolutely transform their economies.
We need a Government that understand and value the creative sector, and put their money and energy into it; that respect, capitalise and believe in the creative sector; that support and encourage our broadcast companies, recognising their irreplaceable value as the second-largest exporter of television programmes and formats in the world; that understand and support the BBC rather than undermining it; that stop trying to sell Channel 4 and recognise that it breeds the ecosystem that spawns new and emerging talent, as well as being financially successful; that ensure broadcasters have continuing access to European platforms; that invest equally in developing creative skills alongside science skills; and that fight for the rights of our intellectual property.
We need a Government that recognise that, in challenging times for the UK, the creative industries offer a platform for economic success; that shape our education and economy for the future, because the future will belong to countries who support innovation and creative minds; that recognise the part played by creative courses in the innovation economy and ensure that policies are retained and enhanced; that support freelancers, sole traders, part-timers and those with a portfolio of roles, who people the creative industries; and that ensure that the tax and welfare system supports them to thrive and earn well.
We need a Government that will intensify and strengthen our creative core by promoting creative subjects in schools, further education and university; that ask Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that no school can easily drop art, music or drama; that encourage institutions and businesses to collaborate with schools to provide cultural education and offer high-quality careers advice; that ensure that high-quality apprenticeships are offered in the creative and digital industries; that increase diversity in the creative industries by working with the industry and listening to its needs, with more support for flexible apprenticeships; and that promote the value of live events, in music, small and public venues, regional theatres, local halls and festivals across the country, especially while we grapple with Covid.
The Arts Council expressed the challenge and the opportunity thus:
“Never has there been a more important time to stimulate the debate, share intelligence, work in partnership with the sector and beyond, so that the benefits of arts and culture are discussed as a mainstream issue”,
not just “at the margins”. The Creative Industries Federation and Creative England’s recent report The UK Creative Industries: Unleashing the Power and Potential of Creativity features newly commissioned data from Oxford Economics, which projects that, with the right investment, the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole, growing by over 26% by 2025 and contributing £132.1 billion to the economy in gross value added. That is over £28 billion more than in 2020 and is more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined.
It is clear—and I hope Her Majesty’s Government really heed this debate—that government policy, funding and indeed attitude impact profoundly across the creative spectrum: advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, design and designer fashion, film, TV, video, radio, photography, IT, software, computer games—this is a massive area—publishing, museums, galleries, libraries, music, performing and visual arts. I am afraid this Government are found wanting. I will finish with a quote from the Prime Minister, although I cannot do impressions:
“You know, sometimes I don’t understand what’s wrong with us. This is just about the most creative and imaginative country on earth – and yet sometimes we just don’t seem to have the gumption to exploit our intellectual property.”
Let us hope he listens to this debate for all the answers he needs.
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on conducting this debate; it is much needed in the House. I look forward to the Minister’s opening foray into debate on the cultural sector and to hearing from the noble Lord, Lord Spencer of Alresford. I do not think it is the Alresford that is next to Great Bentley, where I come from, but I look forward to the speech nevertheless.
The DCMS defines creative industries as:
“those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”.
Never has there been a time when those things are more needed, as we move out of the Covid pandemic and into a time when our economy will hopefully become broader and richer as we open it up.
As the Lords Library briefing note makes clear, the creative sector encompasses a wide variety of industry sub-sectors, ranging from film and television to IT software and computer services. These are powerful drivers in the modern UK economy, contributing, as we heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, an estimated £155.9 billion and 2.1 million jobs to the economy in 2019. Put into context, this contribution to the economy is greater than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined.
Kingston University, an internationally renowned centre for art and design, says that evidence exists that creative skills drive innovation and growth in all parts of the economy. I ask the Minister: why did Kingston University find that there is a “growing disconnect” between the globally recognised pre-eminence of our cultural sector and the education policies that sustain that success? As Kingston suggests, there is a risk that current policies will severely disrupt the talent pipeline that fuels that pre-eminence.
Moreover, given the impact of Covid on the economy, we have a national need to encourage the creative industries to help strengthen the recovery. As the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, observed, Oxford Economics reported that the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole. Its recent State of the Nation report projects that the sector could, as has been said, grow by 26% by 2025, contributing £132.1 billion in GVA and creating some 300,000 jobs. I ask the Minister, with his recent DfE experience, why are the Government disinvesting from the cultural industries? This disinvestment comes a time when competitor economies such as China and Singapore are placing creative education at the heart of their plans for growth.
The Prime Minister wants to see a high wage economy—I think we all do. Higher-level occupations account for 83% of the creative industries, compared to 42% across the workforce generally. Higher education is strongly correlated with the creative sector. This work generates job satisfaction and, of course, higher pay. But over the period 2010 to 2020, there was a 37% decline in arts GCSE and a 30% decline in A-level entries. The English Baccalaureate does not include a single creative subject. Why? In the private education system, of course, creative education continues to thrive, meaning that the creative sector will, a bit like cricket, become the preserve of elite education and lack the diversity of backgrounds that the current Secretary of State seems to so crave. In higher education, the OfS confirms that there has been a 50% reduction in funding available for creative courses at universities, with a redirecting of these funds to STEM subjects and others deemed strategically important. It should not, in my view, be a case of either/or, but of both. Does the Minister agree with that view?
To grow the cultural industries, we need to invest; to invest, we need to plan; and to plan, we need ideas and imagination—something the Government lack. Why else would they look to support projects that look back rather than forwards? The creative industries are the future. I hope that this afternoon, the Minister can persuade the House that his Government understand that and set out a coherent arts strategy for the next decade and not just the next spending round.
My Lords, each one of you at some time past made your maiden speech in this Chamber and will no doubt recall what a special, perhaps nerve-racking moment it was for you and maybe your family. That is very much how I feel today. One of the things I and, no doubt, you too noticed immediately on joining this House was the great courtesy and civility extended between all involved here. This is an oasis of traditional manners, helpfulness and politeness that, I am sure, makes this important place of work so much more productive and rewarding. I would like to thank all the many individuals who have extended those courtesies to me since I was introduced here last year: the clerks, the police, Black Rod and fellow Members, especially my two supporters, my noble friends Lord Strathclyde and Lord Marland, whom you may all hold responsible for my presence here.
My journey to this House, no doubt like many of yours, has been somewhat convoluted and varied. I was born in what was then the Federation of Malaya, son of a colonial civil servant father. A few years later came Macmillan’s momentous “wind of change”, and my father judiciously switched careers to join the United Nations and was posted in 1960 as a development economist to Khartoum, that famous and historic city at the junction of the Blue and White Niles. I remember the city and the country very well, and was lucky to learn some Arabic and travel quite widely with my parents. It was then a remarkably peaceful place, despite the enormous size and religious and ethnic diversity of that newly independent nation.
In 1964, we moved to Addis Ababa, headquarters for the UN in Africa. Ethiopia, then ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie, was one of the very few African states that was never colonised, apart from a brief, albeit painful Italian occupation. Although I was educated in England, this was very much my home until we finally left Addis in the late 1970s.
I was then working in my first job at a stockbroking firm in London. But although I had left Africa, Africa has never left me. The experience of being brought up in a sub-Saharan country with completely different cultures, religions and ethnicities left a deep imprint on me. I feel hugely privileged for where I have been, what I have seen and who I have met. That time also imbued in me a strong commitment to conservation and related issues. My wife and I are now very lucky to have a property in north Kenya, where we have abundant wildlife, including rhino, elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo, in an unspoiled and protected environment.
In 1986, I decided to start my own business with three colleagues, and we launched an interdealer broking firm called ICAP. I had at the outset estimated our chances of success as 50:50 at best, but the tide of good fortune was on our side. The Thatcher era abolition of exchange controls, coupled with bold economic and tax reforms, followed by the big bang, dramatically transformed the City of London and, indeed, the whole of the UK. There was a huge inflow of capital and expertise, with many foreign corporations setting up their headquarters in London. Our business thrived and head count grew rapidly. In 1998, we went public and in 2006 joined the FTSE 100 index—exactly 20 years after our modest beginnings. By then, we had 5,000 staff in 63 offices worldwide. ICAP was undoubtedly the world leader in our sector. We were a British business unicorn before that term had been invented.
I am happy to say that we were also ahead of the curve in CSR. We started an annual charity day in 1993, a unique idea at the time, when the firm gave all the revenues from a single day’s trading to charity. This project is still ongoing and has so far supported several thousand charities around the globe. This is without doubt one of my proudest achievements and legacies.
Your Lordships may well now be thinking, what on earth has all of this got to do with today’s debate? Well, quite a lot, I suggest. As we have just heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, the creative sector, traditionally viewed as being theatre, film, TV, orchestras, dance, opera, museums, galleries and the like, is hugely important to the UK. But we should widen the definition of the sector to include creative corporations. Who would not say that, for example, Apple, Google and Tesla are creative?
What is without question is that “creativity” and all that goes with it—innovation, imagination, change, design, pushing the boundaries, embracing new ideas and cultures, vision, perseverance, risk taking; all these and much more—are critical components for a vibrant economy, a vibrant society and a vibrant nation. Certainly, we could never have built ICAP to become a world leader without embracing all of this. As our nation emerges now from the cloud of Covid and faces the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, there has never been a time when we have needed to support, invest in and promote creativity, in its widest definition, more.
I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, for tabling this important debate, giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech, and my noble friend Lord Parkinson for what will no doubt be an excellent reply. I look forward to contributing my best endeavours to this great House.
My Lords, I cannot tell you what a pleasure and honour it is to follow my noble friend Lord Spencer of Alresford’s maiden speech. What an excellent speech it was. We started in the City together in the 1980s and, frankly, I have been living in his shadow ever since. As noble Lords just heard, some of his magnificent achievements far outweigh those of most human beings. He is a child of the Commonwealth, as he said. His father was committed to public service. He was a scholar at Oxford. None of those things have I ever been able to attain. In 1986, he built the biggest inter-dealer broker—a truly British company. It went from nothing to being a multi-billion-pound business—a magnificent achievement. As my noble friend alluded to, his greatest achievement—he was modest in what he said—was the more than £150 million that he raised for charity through his ICAP charity day. I therefore think that his addition to this House is remarkable for his own achievement but is also of great benefit to the House.
I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on this truly important debate. Actually, I congratulate the arts because, through these horrible Covid times, many of them, like so many of us and so many other business, have struggled to maintain their existence, to strive and to create, while using the new technologies available to perform. It is a magnificent achievement. I chair a charity called Tickets for Troops. Before Covid, the performing arts gave us around 150,000 free tickets for our Armed Forces each year, so my affection for the performing arts is unrivalled. I have not only lived with the fact that our charity has not had any tickets; I have seen what the arts have had to put up with through this difficult time.
I want to contradict the noble Baroness slightly because I think that our Government have done incredibly well. They have had to struggle with Covid, but they have set aside an enormous amount of funding for the arts. The arts are still thriving and are, for want of a better phrase, ready to roll. The Government are fostering the arts against a lack of insurance, which is a big problem; it is very disappointing that the insurance industry has failed to offer them coverage, which is key for them.
The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, were quite right to talk about the future, because this is about the future, how we build on success and what the Government do to make it. As noble Lords will know, I was an international trade envoy for the Prime Minister and one of the founders of the GREAT campaign. We recognise the importance of promoting the arts globally.
However, there is a failure in the system. Look at the movie industry. Take the James Bond films; they are magnificent productions. We have the actors, studios and technicians in this country, and then we produce the product. Look at the music industry, which the noble Baroness referred to earlier. Again, we have the talent, production studios and orchestra halls in this country; we therefore have the product. Then look at the creative industries, including fashion, design and architecture. We can design the product but cannot produce it. The focus for the Government in the next few years should therefore be creating enterprise zones and freeing up the banking system so that, in this post-Brexit Britain, production can be created to supply rather than things having to be produced elsewhere. I would like to hear my noble friend the Minister’s views on this.
Again, I welcome my noble friend Lord Spencer to these Benches and congratulate him on his excellent maiden speech. I look forward to hearing my noble friend the Minister’s response.
My Lords, first, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Featherstone on both initiating this debate and her excellent opening contribution, which set the scene so effectively. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his excellent maiden speech. I was particularly delighted to hear his perspective on the value of creativity for our future. Of course, we are all familiar with his bringing fun to fundraising through ICAP’s charity day, with many celebrities bashing the phones and appearing in the Evening Standard the day after. I was also interested to hear that we have a common interest in conservation in Laikipia in northern Kenya.
I will talk about the way in which the pandemic has had an impact on livelihoods in the creative, arts and entertainment sectors. I want to talk about a number of current threats to independent producers, our book and fashion sectors, authors and our music industry. I do not quite see the sunlit uplands that the noble Lord, Lord Marland, did.
The first threat is the situation in which our independent film and TV production companies find themselves as a result of competition from the major studios and streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. The growth of the UK as a destination for film and TV production has been so swift that there are now insufficient skills and crews. If we cut corners, quality will decline. We have a similar situation in competition for access to facilities, with independents being priced out. Steve McQueen, the maker of “Small Axe”, could not afford London—the location where its events took place—and had to shoot in Wolverhampton instead.
We need to tackle the overheating of the sector that is taking place. In particular, we need to expand the training and skills pipeline, as my noble friend described, rather than cutting funding and threatening to limit the number of people taking creative arts degrees. Where is the promised £90 million-a-year arts premium for schools? Where are the reforms to the apprenticeship levy? As my noble friend mentioned, Kingston University’s future skills league table shows that creative skills are in demand right across the economy; of course, the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, also made that point. Independent producers have described their great concern about the Government’s proposal for the future of Channel 4, which commissions hundreds of independent British companies that can exploit the intellectual property in programmes around the globe.
I come to our renowned, world-class book sector and the consultation over the post-Brexit copyright exhaustion regime. Copyright is key to the book trade, as it offers a bundle of rights that enable authors to protect their intellectual property and benefit from it. This right means that authors or their publishers can control the distribution of their book in a particular market, as long as their rights have not been exhausted. However, the IPO is currently considering a change to the UK’s copyright exhaustion framework—specifically, the introduction of an “international exhaustion regime”. This would have a devastating impact on UK publishing and a huge knock-on impact on UK authors’ incomes.
By the same token, the impact on the fashion industry of a switch to international exhaustion, in particular on our global London Fashion Week, could be significant. What is the Minister doing to ensure that the creative industries’ concerns, including those of the publishing and fashion sectors, are properly taken into account? What analysis has his department done on the impact that an international exhaustion regime would have on the UK’s publishing and fashion sectors, or on the UK creative industries’ exports?
Post Covid, many authors are in a very difficult situation. The Society of Authors survey found that
“49% had lost more than a quarter of their income by October 2020 … Only 28% got help from the first two payments of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.”
Hundreds of libraries have closed across the country over the past decade, which has reduced public lending right income. The single most effective thing that the Government could do would be to increase the public lending right fund available for distribution, which currently stands at a mere £6.6 million, has been frozen for a decade, and is half the amount of the ones in Germany and France.
Finally, I turn to the threats to the music industry, with which I have a long association. UK Music recently unveiled its annual report, This Is Music 2021. It has revealed the devastating impact of Covid-19, which wiped out 69,000 jobs—one in three of the total workforce. Studios and venues were forced to close, and musicians and crews were unable to work. In a sector where three-quarters are self-employed, many were not covered by government support schemes. UK Music has drawn up the music industry strategic recovery plan, which outlines five key areas where swift action is needed: tax incentives; urgent action to remove the barriers to touring, which my noble friend Lord Strasburger will talk further about; a permanent reduction in the VAT rate on live music event tickets; more funding and support for music exports; and boosting funding for music education and for the self-employed to secure the talent pipeline. Where do the Government stand on these requests to help to save some of our critical creative sectors?
My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. I agree with virtually everything that he has said. I declare my interest as a composer and broadcaster and welcome this timely and vital debate, brilliantly initiated by the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone. I extend my welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Spencer. He will find that his knowledge of wild animals is enormously helpful in your Lordships’ Chamber and may even recognise the odd elephant of one hue or another.
Our Government tell us constantly that they prize the creativity of our musicians, artists, actors, dancers, fashion designers and writers, but their splendid words are rather undone by their less than splendid stance on creative education and the result of the Brexit negotiations. These two issues, Brexit fallout and education, were compounded by a third, which admittedly was beyond the Government’s control: Covid-19.
The Government’s support for the arts during the pandemic was enormously helpful—and we are grateful for it—as is the doubling and extension of orchestra tax relief in the Chancellor’s Budget Statement last week. However, many freelance musicians and artists, as the Government recognised, fell through the support network during the pandemic and these are precisely the people who, as they try to recover, are now being hit by the problems with touring, particularly in Spain, where the cost of getting visas and the invasive requirement to reveal personal accounts, including bank statements, are exacting real hardship, as publicly described by two of our most gifted singers, Dame Sarah Connolly and Ian Bostridge.
Cabotage is a huge problem, especially for those companies and orchestras who own their own trucks. Why is Spain important and why cabotage? Well, if you are planning a European tour for an orchestra, a string quartet, a dance company or a heavy metal rock group, you must divide the costs by the number of performances that you can give. Geographically and historically, Spain is key to European touring, yet it has more restrictive requirements than several countries with which we do now have bilateral agreements. Currently, trucks are allowed to transit to only two locations before either all the gear must be transferred to a local carrier or you must return home and start again. During this gap, performers must be paid for loss of work and for subsistence, amounting to thousands of pounds.
Regarding Spain, I have a little suggestion for the Minister. We know how many UK citizens love and welcome their Spanish holiday. We know how Spain values their contribution to the Spanish economy. Surely there is some leverage here, à la France and fishing. “You want us on your beaches so make it easier for us to tour or maybe we will have to help reach our carbon targets by further taxing flights to Spain.” Of course, there are many complex issues surrounding this problem with Spain, including a national and endemic bureaucracy and the strong and febrile feelings over Gibraltar, but there must be a way through. Could we not perhaps go back to pre-European Union rules? What are Spain’s arrangements with other countries outside the EU— America, for instance?
A letter has been sent to Boris Johnson on behalf of cross-party MPs, demanding urgent action over the crisis facing musicians and crew touring the EU. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, endorsed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Classical Music, of which I am a co-chair, has also revealed plans to hold a cross-party inquiry into the costly barriers and delays facing musicians, particularly emerging artists. Details of the two initiatives come after Sir Elton John warned in June that the UK music industry risked losing a “generation of talent” and branded the situation a “looming catastrophe” for artists.
Regarding education, the amount of time devoted to arts subjects, including music, has been steadily declining in our schools over the last decade. I feel more passionately about this than any other aspect of creativity, even those that I have mentioned, because we are depriving future generations of the opportunities that we all enjoyed. In terms of levelling up and diversity, we all celebrate the wonderful playing of the cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason. A few months ago, his mother, Kadie Kanneh-Mason, told me on Radio 3 that what upsets her about current music provision in schools is that if Sheku was a pupil now, he and his siblings would not be where they currently are; the privileged and well-off can get music lessons but the poor in our society are stranded.
Ideally, we should get these creative subjects back on to the national curriculum, but, failing that, let us augment hubs and target underprovided areas, as suggested by the Local Government Association. When the Minister rises to tell us how valued the creative industries are, as I am sure he will, will he consider whether we will still be able to say that in decades to come if we have denied our children the means to develop into the musicians and artists of the future that they, and we, deserve?
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, very warmly, on securing this debate and on setting out the issues so very clearly and lucidly. During a long career in the arts and in your Lordships’ House, I have probably opined on most of the things that she mentioned at least once and sometimes many times. I am not sure that I could ever possibly have done it as well as or better than she did today. I also congratulate those who follow, because there is very little that I can add to what has already been said or will be said by the extraordinarily well-informed group which I am privileged to be part of today. I also welcome the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, to the House. He will be a great asset to us. I look forward to hearing from him again in the future.
I want to talk briefly about one of our most important cultural assets, which was referred to, albeit in passing, by the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone: the BBC. We know that there are some people, possibly quite a few, who resent having to pay the licence fee that entitles us all to access the vast range of programming provided by the BBC. Those people would prefer to pay only for what they use. Perhaps we might think about applying that to the NHS. We also know that there is a small but vocal and influential minority who would like to see the BBC diminished because they regard it as a threat to their commercial interests. There are a few people, including some politicians, who are convinced that the BBC is irretrievably biased towards what they see as a liberal metropolitan world view, and would therefore like to see it reined in.
These are all reasonable, defensible positions. I do not agree with any of them but that does not prevent me understanding them. What is not reasonable or defensible is government interference in a well-tried and thus far largely independent process to appoint the chair of a key regulator, apparently to smooth the way for a candidate previously deemed unappointable, whose well-publicised attitude to the BBC is, shall we say, less than supportive. Also not defensible is a senior government figure—a Cabinet Minister, no less—making barely veiled threats about the BBC’s future funding in reaction to one experienced journalist’s momentary and perhaps understandable frustration.
I am sure that the Minister, who I know takes his brief very seriously, will want to give the House a different perspective on these problem issues, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say, because I believe that the BBC, despite its flaws, of which there are many, is a public good and matters to our culture, creativity, politics and international reputation in more ways and for more reasons than this Government sometimes seem to understand—or perhaps they understand them all too well. Either way, those who would like to see the BBC taken down should be careful what they wish for.
My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on a truly interesting—which is often not the case—maiden speech. I also congratulate my noble friend Lady Featherstone on not just securing this important debate but, as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, rightly said, on her excellent speech, which I hope will influence government thinking.
It seems to me that the Government have a Jekyll and Hyde approach to the creative sector. They rightly talk up its importance and, to be fair, have directed significant sums to help the sector during the Covid pandemic—yet in many ways they fail to understand the sector and its specific needs. This can be illustrated by many examples, such as the furlough scheme failing fully to take into account the sector’s particularly large number of freelancers and part-timers and the Government’s dismal betrayal, in the Brexit negotiations, of musicians and other creative performers whose livelihood comes from touring within Europe. Further evidence is provided, as we have heard, by the Government’s threats to cut the BBC down to size or to privatise Channel 4, failing to appreciate the importance of those institutions in the wider creative sector ecology.
In the limited time available, I will concentrate on just two other government policy areas to illustrate their failure to understand and respond to the creative sector’s needs: the talent pipeline and the importance of protecting intellectual property. Post-Brexit talk is all about developing homegrown talent yet, as far as the creative sector is concerned, government policies are hindering such development. For example, soon after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy it became clear that there is no one-size-fits-all scheme, and the creative industries argued for a bespoke one to meet their requirements and ways of working. Only now, after several wasted years, are trials of a more appropriate scheme taking place. I hope the Minister can update us on what is happening and that he will acknowledge that the failure to act sooner has meant that, as ScreenSkills has claimed, there are only one-quarter as many creative industry apprenticeships as there could have been.
While the Government are at last beginning to listen in relation to apprenticeships, the same cannot be said for what is happening in our schools—an issue raised so powerfully just now by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. The failure to include arts and creative subjects within the EBacc has led to students being discouraged from studying them and encouraged instead to focus on subjects that form part of the EBacc. Government workforce statistics show this very clearly, with a sizeable decrease in the teaching of non-EBacc subjects. For example, in the past 10 years art GCSE entries have declined by 37% and design and technology entries by nearly 60%. Not surprisingly, A-level entries in arts and creative subjects have also declined dramatically. A-level music entries are down by 44% since 2011. This is hardly a recipe for developing homegrown talent in the creative sector.
That is why we on these Benches have long argued for the inclusion of creative subjects within the EBacc—and we are not alone. The Commons DCMS Select Committee recommended it way back in 2013, and in June of this year the Commons Education Select Committee made a similar recommendation. To date no Minister has given a convincing justification for rejecting such recommendations, so I will listen with interest to our Minister’s attempt. And, while he is doing it, recalling that his party’s 2019 manifesto promised
“an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils”,
will he tell us when it is coming?
Now creative subjects in our universities are under threat, with an inevitable impact on the talent pipeline. The universities regulator has confirmed that it will be cutting its funding for arts subjects by 50% and, worse, we now hear that the Treasury is pressing for a reduction in the number of students studying such courses on the grounds that they are less likely to pay back their student loans. I hope the Minister can assure us that such pressure from the Treasury will be resisted.
To date, the Government have not listened to concerns about the talent pipeline, but I hope they might do about intellectual property. The generation and exploitation of IP is a defining feature of the creative industries. Piracy is a major threat to that exploitation. One of the problems in tackling it is that digital service providers do not verify the identities of those using their services, so pirates can make millions from their illegal activities without being identified. The Government have now said that they will look at how Know Your Business customer regulations might be introduced to deal with this problem. Can the Minister therefore update us on how that work is being taken forward and when he expects it to be concluded?
Finally, I have previously asked the Minister about the future of the IP exhaustion regime and the possibility that the Government may introduce an international rather than a national one—a move the sector believes will be devastating. So far, we have been told that the options are being reviewed and a decision will be made in due course. Given the importance of the issue, can the Minister say why it is taking so long, when we are going to hear and why the Government are even considering an option that could be an existential threat to our creative industries? The Government talk up the creative industries but must do more to understand them.
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, and I congratulate him on his contribution. I also congratulate my friend, the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on the laser-like brilliance of her opening statement, and I welcome and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Foster, on his maiden speech. I look forward to many more.
Spencer. I am corrected from a sedentary position. My error was unforgivable; I restate that I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his excellent maiden speech.
I remind the House of my interests as a set out in the register, particularly as a member of Equity. I am in receipt of royalties from programmes and I am a published author with Bloomsbury. I am grateful for the many briefings I have received from the Society of London Theatre, UK Theatre, Equity and many others, including the renowned and prolific commercial theatre producer Sonia Friedman.
As the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, said, before the pandemic, the creative sectors were facing difficult issues because of our post-Brexit trade deals and, in particular, the restrictions on the freedom of movement of goods and people. The creative industries import and export talent and product across the EU and further afield, and there are still many issues, now impacted by the pandemic, that need to be resolved. I shall not repeat them as the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, dealt extensively with them.
I welcome wholeheartedly the government measures and any criticism I have is because I expect more and better. Despite the measures that have been introduced, it remains a very mixed picture. While many have received assistance and support, many others were unable to get help and are still struggling or have left their professions. Indeed, some established freelancers were advised that their work was not “vital” and that they should retrain. That attitude is insulting and short- sighted, and potentially drives away practitioners where there is already a drastic skills shortage.
Some theatres and venues across the UK are experiencing returning audiences, but many others are struggling. Across the board, ticket sales are far from guaranteed, with the majority of theatres’ producers having to take a week-by-week approach to their finances, which creates a hugely unsettling economic environment. In such an unsettled economic environment, it follows that there will be long-term employment and artistic consequences that could affect theatres, producers and venues, as well as the skills crossover.
The lack of international tourism and broader public uncertainty about personal safety and returning to life as normal are at the heart of these issues. Therefore, clear government messaging is crucial, in addition to continued targeted economic support to help the creative industries transition out from Covid-19 restrictions.
The Budget and the CSR in October provided much-needed potential financial relief, but it is about take-up and accessibility of funds. For instance, DCMS has awarded just 1.3% of the £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund. One needs to beg the question: why? We must also address other key areas: funding for local authorities to ensure that the arts are part of the regeneration of our towns and cities; and cultural VAT, which should be maintained at 12.5% or the reversion period extended.
The arts premium for secondary schools is vital. I give this urgency because I know it matters. At the age of 11, I initially went to a secondary school and, because of my exposure to theatre, my life was dramatically changed and my life changes enhanced beyond all measure. The benefits to young people are immeasurable, stimulating imaginations and taking them beyond their place of birth or the people to whom they were born and giving them the horizons that beforehand were unimaginable—truly, the power to change lives.
I briefly turn to the doubling of theatre tax relief, which will have an extremely positive impact on the ability to produce and stimulate new productions through the autumn and deeply uncertain winter. However, there are some operational issues with TTR. The interpretation that DCMS has specified is that only shows with activity after 27 October can qualify for the doubled TTR. However, activity on shows of a large scale—indeed, on any large-scale performances—often starts well over a year or two in advance of the first performance. There are solutions to this problem, and I urge the Minister to meet with producers and others.
I have two final points. The reintroduction of the minimum income floor for universal credit will have an extremely negative impact on creative freelancers with variable income. A recent survey by the union Equity found that 50% of respondents were concerned that they could be forced out of the industry as a result. Quite rightly, Equity wants to abolish the minimum income floor and replace it with a meaningful alternative to better support creative freelancers. I urge the Minister to meet with Equity to discuss its proposals.
Finally—and I say this with all due deference and courtesy—the cultural vandalism of privatising Channel 4 will have damaging consequences for its supply chain, resulting in thousands of job losses. It will serve no one, least of all the viewer, nor the principles of broadcasting diversity. The Channel 4 model works. Therefore, I ask the Government to stop meddling, leave Channel 4 alone and abolish such reckless proposals.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, has done well to obtain this debate and to introduce it so powerfully at a very timely moment to address the challenge of reviving the creative sector following the impact of Brexit and Covid. I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Spencer of Alresford, to the House. I was particularly struck by his commitment to CSR and his connections in Kenya, with its mountains whose name I am proud to share.
The Chancellor was recently cited as saying:
“For us, in the UK, the creative industries, arts culture is something we are genuinely world-class at.”
The creative sector makes a significant economic impact, is faster growing than most other sectors and calls for skills that are increasingly recognised as essential for business. That is without saying anything about its huge importance to our quality of life as individuals and our soft power. Its success has been based on a strong national ecosystem of talent, skills, experience, facilities, institutions and resources, built up over many years.
I will focus on music and the performing arts. They have been badly hit by Covid-19, as we have heard. I will not repeat the statistics mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Foster, and others. Many schools have cut back on their arts and music teaching, reinforcing an alarming drop in pupils taking music GCSEs and A-levels, especially in state schools.
Government has played an important role in helping the sector to stay just about above water. Its task now is to maintain and enhance the ecosystem on which the sector depends, while continuing to repair the damage done since 2019. Above all, it needs to ensure that the education pipeline of creative skills and talent is expanded, not disrupted or blocked, and that the sector receives the support and investment it needs to complete its recovery and return to growth. I have a fusillade—perhaps it is more like a scattershot—of questions for the Minister about some of the actions that I believe are needed, which I hope he will address either in his response or subsequently.
The Government have promised to
“publish a refreshed national plan for music education next year”,—[Official Report, 25/10/21; col. 516.]
which is welcome—particularly as the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, indicated during Oral Questions last week that it would “focus on disadvantaged children”. What more can the Minister tell us about how the Government have consulted about the plan and how they will seek to bridge the alarming and growing gap between the state and independent sectors in music and arts teaching? For example, will they ensure that funding for music education hubs is on a more secure and predictable basis, rather than putting them in a situation where they have to look at whether they can re-employ their staff on an annual cycle? How do the Government plan to ensure that the laudable aims of the plan are met, unlike those of its predecessor?
There seems to be a disconnect between performing arts education in schools and the work of awarding organisations, such as those accredited by the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre, offering graded examinations in the performing arts through their own networks of specialist teachers. More than 1.1 million such examinations were taken in the UK in 2019, as against 110,000 entries for GCSEs in dance, drama and music, and 17,500 for A-levels. Might the Minister look at how these two approaches could better reinforce each other and increase and maintain the sector’s access to teaching resources, perhaps by expanding the role of music education hubs to cover this?
How will he ensure that careers advice and guidance fully reflect the opportunities available in the creative sector? When will the Government finally get to grips with the damage done by the EBacc to music and arts teaching in schools? These are questions that other noble Lords have asked. What can he say about the promised arts premium for secondary schools, assuming that this is not another manifesto commitment that the Government plan to abandon?
More broadly, how will the Government ensure that the creative sector as a whole receives the focus, support and investment that its significance and potential deserve? What plans are there to scale up the creative cluster approach? Will the Minister look at updating research and development definitions to enable more R&D funding for the creative sector, as countries such as France, Germany, Italy and South Korea have done? We have fintech and edtech; we also need createch. Will he seek to increase the number of creative apprenticeships available and to provide targeted support for the small firms and freelancers so prevalent in the sector?
I could ask many more such questions—I have not even mentioned touring—but they all point to the need for a comprehensive, integrated policy and spending approach to the creative sector as a whole, joined up across all the government departments involved, to address the Government’s agenda so powerfully set out by the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, and to ensure a healthy and vibrant ecosystem within which creative individuals and businesses can have the freedom and opportunity to do what they do best: innovate, invent and create.
My Lords, I wish everyone a happy Diwali and refer noble Lords to my entry in the Register of Lords’ Interests. Almost all of them relate to the creative industries but I particularly point out the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and my trusteeships of the National Youth Theatre and Music Masters.
I congratulate my noble friend Lady Featherstone—she is a friend—on calling this important debate. She is a great colleague on the Communications and Digital Committee. I also welcome, as has everyone else, the wonderful maiden speech by my noble friend Lord Spencer. I believe, and I genuinely mean this—often one just mutters platitudes—that he will make an enormous contribution to this House. I found his speech fascinating as I learned about his childhood and growing up, but I particularly focused on his point at the end about the need to recognise the creativity in business. I have to say that made me come over all philosophical about our approach to the creative industries and indeed the arts.
In my view, it works in two different ways. First, take a company like Apple, which is normally the most valuable company in the world, although it oscillates a bit in that position with Microsoft. Apple is a company whose effective success has been based on design. We rightly celebrate the work of a British designer, Jony Ive, in designing the iPhone, but it is a design-led company that has effectively conquered the world; we all pay through the nose for an iPhone because we like its shape and design.
That goes to the heart of why creativity is so important in the world of business. It is the magic dust that is often the difference between success and failure. Many countries around the world look at the UK’s creative sector through a business lens. If you talk to the Chinese—I know we are not meant to—you will find that they have nothing to learn from us about manufacturing processes but are keen to learn from us about creativity. That is why it is important for politicians.
Secondly, the arts and the creative industries are businesses too. That is why it is important for a Cabinet Minister to be seen on the set of James Bond, for example; they should not be dismissed as somehow frivolously wasting their afternoon with a bunch of film stars. They are not. They are visiting an area of high economic importance, surrounded by people with fantastic skills in very technical areas who are creating wealth, and an incredible marketing tool, for this country. That should be celebrated.
The arts also have to reflect on what they can learn from business. As Culture Minister, I felt that no one could ever go bust in the arts. My noble friend Lord Spencer began by saying that he rated his business success as 50:50 when he started out in the proverbial back bedroom, but it always seems to me that if a regional museum or arts organisation closes down then it is deemed to be a catastrophe and a failure of a philistine Government rather than recognising that the arts, just as much as business, will have winners and losers and need refreshment. Thus endeth my philosophical thinking, which may be welcomed by all sides.
However, I will make one last philosophical point. Something else that I learned when I was Culture Minister is that the arts are surprisingly conservative. My noble friend Lord Aberdare mentioned the need for createch; I agree. There is often a failure in cultural institutions to think forward and differently, and to ask difficult questions. For example, I have a very open mind on Channel 4 privatisation. I have absolutely no problem with the question being asked and the issue being examined. I do not simply want the status quo to be the default position for the arts, just as I do not want to see it in business. That is why, when I was the Minister, I often found conversations with people in the tech world much more stimulating than with people in the arts world about the future of their organisations.
I have used up almost all my time. I just want to say a few things to the Minister, who has a fantastic job and, as he will have worked out from this debate, quite a big in-tray. I know this will be said later by my noble friend Lady Wadley—I apologise for echoing her; she put the idea in my head this morning—but it is so simple to get this right. In terms of government spending, arts spending is a rounding error. It would be so easy to put the arts on secure funding. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, mentioned the public lending right. That is a classic example where the Government would get so many plaudits if they were to increase it, for what is an insignificant sum.
The Culture Recovery Fund has been a triumph while the extension of tax credits by the Government really should be applauded; they are a clear and extensive form of support for the arts. The Government are leaning into that and deserve real credit for it. I look forward to my noble friend Lady Wadley talking about the national plan for music education, which she is in charge of, because a third pillar, alongside spending and tax credits, is a real opportunity to lean in on arts education. Many noble Lords have made the point that it makes an enormous difference. It is not simply about creating great musicians or artists; it is about giving kids real confidence and soft skills that they are going to need in whatever profession they look at. I know the Secretary of State is fully committed to the levelling-up agenda, particularly given her background and what she has achieved. The arts can really make a massive difference.
In terms of turning back on to the arts themselves, arts organisations also have to look at themselves and say, “Are we doing enough to genuinely reach out to new audiences and different people as well?” They have to do that in partnership with government, not simply ask the Government to do it for them.
My Lords, I too thank my noble friend for introducing this important debate so brilliantly and comprehensively. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his fascinating maiden speech and welcome him to this House, even virtually.
I want to tell noble Lords about the impact that the pandemic and government policies have had on the creative industries in a small rural town. Like many small communities up and down the country, you will find a wealth of remarkable cultural and creative activities in my beautiful market town of Richmond at the top of the Yorkshire Dales. We have dozens of groups that our citizens can join, from choirs and orchestras to writers’ groups, painters, potters, sewers and dancers—all tastes are catered for. It is remarkable to me that a town of only 8,500 should have so many creative people wanting to express themselves in so many diverse ways.
In particular we have our internationally famous Georgian Theatre Royal, a grade 1 listed building built in 1788, the oldest working theatre in its original form in the UK. Knowing that we had this debate today, I wanted to know how the theatre had fared during this terrible time and, interestingly, it has fared pretty well. Having been given a hugely generous donation from a marvellous benefactor, it was beautifully restored during lockdown, which enabled it then to open once restrictions on theatres had been lifted. During lockdown, though, it was helped by the Culture Recovery Fund, for which we were enormously grateful. That paid around £78,000 for items such as maintenance, insurance and utilities. Then of course there was the job retention scheme, which paid the salaries of the small number of people employed at the theatre, which, by the way, has only 155 seats. In a way, if there were to be a good time for the theatre to be closed, one could say that this was it. However, without the help from the recovery fund and the furlough scheme, it might well have been a very different story.
However, it is not all roses. Most venues, all over the country, may have survived, but actually putting on a production is much more problematic. Because they received little help with their finances, many smaller venues have had to close permanently. Certainly, small production companies like the ones used by our theatre in Richmond have found it extremely difficult to get started again because of the uncertainty of getting money in. Shows take time to be stage-ready, and artists simply have not had the help that others have had, leading to a real shortage of shows to put on in our theatre. Indeed, the chief executive tells me that it has been almost impossible to produce a good programme because of the inability to get people together to rehearse. This is the fault, without doubt, of the Government’s leaving this sector without any help whatsoever during the pandemic.
Small theatres need to be paid up front now because insurance is problematic and going up, as we have heard. There is understandable nervousness about getting people back into theatres. Will they make enough profit to stay open? Even an historically significant theatre like ours has these deep concerns, so what assurance can the Minister give to them? For instance, will the Government ensure that the theatre and orchestra tax relief scheme will continue to support the many small theatres and orchestras into the future, because it will be a long time before they can make any profit?
It seems to me that this is all about confidence: confidence in our Government to do the right thing and begin to support our cultural heritage. This sector was so cruelly treated during the pandemic by not supporting artists and performers—the very people we need to help our creative industries grow. We also need to find the confidence to return to pre-pandemic levels of support for those individual performers and groups, who bring such richness to our daily lives.
That means allowing overseas artists to perform here as well. At the moment, we have made it extremely difficult for them to do so, as we have heard, and our home-grown performers are finding it almost impossible to get bookings in Europe because of the ridiculous paperwork they now need to complete. What was once easy has been made ludicrously difficult because of our stance on Brexit. So, finally, will the Government begin to see how important it is for us to share our culture with the world and recognise that only by unfettered reciprocal arrangements between countries can we begin to rebuild our creative industries?
I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, on an excellent and comprehensive speech. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer of Alresford, on his fine and absorbing speech.
I will focus on two areas: the arts and arts education. Among some excellent briefings, I was struck most immediately by the frightening figures that Equity quotes about the long-term funding of the arts in the UK: that public funding for the arts, per head of the population, has dropped by 35% since 2008, and local government funding has dropped by 43% in the same period. According to Eurostat, in 2019 we ranked second from bottom of all European countries for spend on cultural services as a percentage of GDP, with only Greece below us. Greece’s situation is understandable; ours is not. These are appalling cuts.
However, I cannot help wondering—perhaps I am going against the grain here—whether the formulation of the creative industries map in 1998 by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, exciting at the time, has in the longer run proved something of a double-edged sword for the arts, which to an extent have been subsumed within that economic grouping. This is not to deny the usefulness of that grouping, but we should not lose sight of the arts as a core entity, albeit fuzzy around the edges.
The arts are not just significant economically, as the rest of the creative industries are; alongside our state media they are an integral aspect of the democracy of this country. It is hugely important that healthy, state-funded arts and media are managed independently, and that the Government of the day properly maintain an arm’s-length distance from both. It is important to restate this principle at a time when there are concerns about the erosion of democracy in our country.
The arts have taken a massive hit with Covid. UK Music reports the loss of 69,000 workers—over a third of music’s workforce. Music has significantly contracted because of its dependence on live events, but musicians and many others have also fallen and continue to fall through the gaps in support. I thank the Government for the recent meeting for Peers on employment in the creative industries, which the Minister attended. I point out that work in the arts is vocational. For most people who are forced to find other work, it will be a second choice.
The Government have announced some welcome rebuilding measures, but much more is required. The Culture Recovery Fund should be extended. The apprenticeship levy needs to be more flexible for the creative sector, as others have pointed out. The Government should rethink increasing VAT on tickets back to 20% in April next year. Recovery will not be fast for the arts.
But, in the long run, Brexit will be the major problem, and it already is. We have heard the OBR’s predictions of the extent of the greater damage it is likely to cause to the economy as a whole, compared to Covid. At no point when signing an agreement with the EU did this Government take the needs of services, including the creative economy, into account. For the performing and visual arts and fashion, mobility is crucial.
Will the Government take note of the three types of action that they must take, as set out by the House of Lords European Affairs Committee in its letter to the noble Lord, Lord Frost, on 29 October? The first concerns what the Government should do in negotiation with the EU, including a visa waiver agreement, cabotage and carnets. The second concerns negotiation with individual countries, and work permits. The third concerns the action they can take more immediately, closer to home, including making Eurostar a designated CITES port and improving UK Border Force’s understanding of the permitted paid engagement scheme for visiting artists.
A visa waiver agreement is urgently needed. We know that the EU would be more receptive to this, unlike the unrealistic UK offer. Moreover, it is the ISM’s understanding, following a recent meeting it had with officials from the Home Office, DCMS and the Cabinet Office, that there are no legal barriers to prevent the Government trying to negotiate such an agreement with the EU.
It is essential that young people have the same access to the arts as they do to sciences in schools. With new teams at both DCMS and DfE, now is the right time to look again at the EBacc. Over the last seven years, take-up of arts GCSEs has fallen by 28%, and take-up of A-level music has dropped by 44% over the last 10 years. The 50% cut to arts higher education courses and the wrongheaded suggestion that courses that lead to poor salaries should be cut will additionally give the wrong signal to schools at a time when a pipeline of talent for the arts is required, as part of the post-Covid recovery.
Finally, in his Budget speech, the Chancellor talked of
“investment in a more innovative, high-skilled economy”.—[Official Report, Commons, 27/10/21; col. 274.]
Education in art and design subjects is key for such innovation to take place. We need to move away from predominantly knowledge-based education if such an economy is to succeed.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, for introducing this debate. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Spencer on his excellent maiden speech.
On the creative industries, I shall briefly connect a few points: their future prospects; the part played by digital technology; their ability to enhance learning and education; and their application at any and every level, whether local, national or international. In view of Covid, however, and as many of your Lordships have done, today we should start by assessing various damage-limitation expedients.
The DCMS Committee of another place has alleged that help arrived too late, precipitating mass redundancies and threatening permanent closure of our cultural infrastructure, while the Public Accounts Committee of another place has claimed that in spite of attempts at compensatory funding many participants are still in great difficulties.
Nevertheless, the Government should be commended for their July 2020 cultural recovery disbursement of £1.57 billion, awarded to more than 5,000 organisations, as since then they also can be for instigating a variety of other useful interventions, including those of last week’s Budget, enabling tax relief for theatre, orchestra, museum and gallery businesses, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, referred.
For 2022 and 2023, what forecasts does my noble friend the Minister make both for the recovery of creative industry jobs, which pre Covid in 2019 had reached 2.1 million, as well as for the sector’s contribution to the United Kingdom economy, which only three years ago rose to 5.9%, at £115.9 billion?
We may take heart that, between 2011 and 2019, the gross value added measure for the creative industries grew four times faster than the rate for the rest of the UK economy. The sector exported £36 billion in services worldwide and accounted for almost 12% of the UK’s services exports. We can also take comfort from the all-win, solid partnership, which is fortunately there to stay, between digital technology and the creative industries, permeating all sectors and now evident within each, from film, TV, music, fashion and design to arts, architecture, publishing, advertising, video games, crafts and so on.
Be that as it may, along with artificial intelligence, digital technology is quite easily misinterpreted, and even incorrectly misunderstood to undermine or replace human minds. Yet as we well know, the opposite is the case, for digital technology does not take over intellectually but instead, and provided in partnership with human thinking and creativity, which come first, is able to innovate or cause many more permutations and constructive results which otherwise, without it, would not have occurred at all.
Another misplaced fear and inaccuracy is that machines and robots, as they proliferate, will disadvantage people. However, research from the United States and Europe indicates that the more creative a job, the less likely it is to be replaced by a machine. That suggests that, to the extent that robots may perhaps do the jobs of men in manufacturing, agriculture and some services, the creative industries then become all the more necessary for generating employment and enabling stable communities. This leads to the aim, shared by all, to attain a much more consistent national spread of creative industries, thereby narrowing the gap between the south-east of England and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Before Covid, while resolving to redress this imbalance, the Government also indicated a 50% increase in reported creative industry exports by 2023, sustained annual growth of 3.9% reflecting £130 billion by 2025, and a million more people employed by 2030. How far would my noble friend now see fit to revise those figures? What plans are there for 2022 and 2023 for the further development of creative clusters within the UK’s cities and regions? In the next couple of years, what targets are there for new partnerships between universities and businesses to strengthen R&D and improve understanding of the sector?
Ironically, during the pandemic the quality of online learning has become even better while its cost has reduced. The British Council is a case in point. Before the pandemic, its traditional business model had relied on the receipt of income from face-to-face English teaching along with some financial support from the FCO. Now its business model has changed, substituting direct teaching with that online, certainly in order to make ends meet and pay back, as required, its current FCO loan of £60 million, yet at the same time without any loss of quality in its language teaching.
The Government’s pre-Covid industrial strategy paper calls for the better teaching of maths, sciences and technical knowledge. All such programmes would be best delivered online. There is as well a strong case to include the humanities within a comprehensive range of subjects. Video games systems, such as those designed in Dundee, already cover a number of subjects with excellent results, particularly when, through use of the Socratic dialogue, learners are also challenged to ask questions and drawn out to give their own opinions on aspects of what they are learning.
Where it already exists, there is no need to replace good teaching at schools and universities. Locally and nationally, the online learning delivery purpose instead is to supplement teaching, as relevant, although occasionally to provide courses in the first place if these should be lacking, such as those covering neglected subjects already referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Berkeley of Knighton and Lord Foster of Bath, and my noble friend Lord Vaizey of Didcot.
Internationally, however, the purpose is different. Within a full range, this is to offer to countless numbers of people abroad whichever subject or subjects they need and want to learn but have not been able so to do owing to an insufficient availability of teaching in their own countries.
My noble friend the Minister will recall that at the recent G7 in June of this year, the United Kingdom, in chairing that summit, has already agreed to assist education internationally. A key issue is that online learning courses should lead to proper qualifications. Just now, as a Council of Europe parliamentarian and through its committee structure, I am writing a report on that. In connection with their G7 commitment, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that any online learning delivered internationally—
I will just finish.
In summary, the creative industries have a very good prospect. To counteract the current negative economic effects of Covid, ongoing protection is necessary. The Government must also continue to do all they can to spread out from the south-east. A central challenge is to improve and increase education. Through increased online delivery, the UK must now improve education for learners both here and abroad.
My Lords, I too want to thank my noble friend Lady Featherstone for securing this debate and for her fantastic opening speech. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, whose contribution I found truly fascinating.
We have heard several noble Lords speak of the huge contribution that the creative industries make to the British economy in general and to exports in particular. We have just heard from the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, of those figures, and I do not want to repeat them, other than to say that one figure stands out in my mind: the creative sector is growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce.
However, the creative industries do not just play a vital role in the economy; they shape the country’s international image. In film, television, music, gaming, fashion and sport, our creative reach is enormous. That is not to mention, of course, James Bond and the Beatles—I was not going to say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah”. Our museums, art galleries, sporting institutions and terrestrial broadcasters have contributed to how others see us. For example, the BBC’s global news services reach 438 million people around the world every week—more than any other international broadcaster. It plays a major role in enhancing the UK’s standing and reputation overseas—nothing Metropolitan elite about that. The most recent Soft Power 30 index puts the UK back at the top of the world rankings, pipping France at the post.
For the creative sector to flourish and continue to grow, we need, as my noble friend Lord Foster said, a talent pipeline. It needs young people at school who have a passion for, say, music, or art and design, to be given the opportunities to develop that talent, to go on and study a vocational course, to go to university or to sign up for an apprenticeship. That encouragement must be there.
My last job was as a head teacher of a 600-place primary school in an outer-city former council estate on Merseyside. In fact, it was the very estate where our current Secretary of State at the DCMS lived—Elsinore Heights, I think it was. The school was very keen on creative and arts subjects, visual and performing. We had school orchestras and peripatetic music throughout. I decided that the school should apply for an Arts Council Artsmark. When the inspector duly arrived, she spent a full day at the school, going into all the lessons—it was more challenging than Ofsted. At the end of the day, she came to give me her conclusions. She said, “Mr Storey, I’m sorry to tell you that you haven’t got an Artsmark—but you have an art gold mark.” I was stunned, and said, “Really?” She said, “Yes”, and that she had gone into a literacy lesson—that was the pushing point—where the teacher was using percussion instruments to teach children to write poetry. You can imagine the effect on that very deprived community of being able to put the plaque outside the school, saying that we had an Arts Council mark.
When the children went on to the local secondary school, I know that creative subjects were again encouraged, and pupils went on to work in all sorts of jobs in the creative industry, including designing computer programmes. I remember that Josh Bolt, an actor, went on to appear in, or star in, “Last Tango in Halifax”, and whatever that awful comedy programme is called. Those students went on—they were proud of what had happened. Sadly, that is not the case now.
Introduced in 2010, the English baccalaureate is the Government’s measure of how pupils in secondary schools choose to take a GCSE and how well they will do in the following core subjects: English, literature, language, maths, science, history and geography, and a language. Those subjects are chosen because they are considered essential to many degrees. The Government have an ambition to see 75% of pupils studying the EBacc by 2022, and 90% by 2025, but there are no creative subjects as part of the EBacc—so, not surprisingly, in financially challenging times, schools have cut back on creative and technical subjects to save money.
As my noble friend Lord Foster said—perhaps we should have been more creative and shared our notes—the figures speak for themselves, with all creative subjects down by 28%, design and technology down 59%, drama down 21% and music down 17%. A-level music is down by a staggering 44%. Yet in public and independent schools, the creative subjects have blossomed. Do we really want only those children whose parents can afford to send them to public schools benefiting? I thought that the Government were about levelling up. I hope that our current Minister, having known how creative arts can be important to young people, talks to her colleagues in the education department.
My Lords, this has been a very constructive debate, thanks in no little part to how my noble friend Lady Featherstone introduced it, and I congratulate her on that. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his maiden speech. I was interested to hear about his interest in exotic animals. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, referred to the elephants in this House—I think he will quickly find that a number of species he thought were extinct are still on these Benches. Later, I shall ask the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, for some specific help on the issue that I want to talk about, which has already been introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh—namely, the future of the BBC.
Next year, on 18 October, we will celebrate the formation of the British Broadcasting Company in 1922 by a group of leading wireless manufacturers, led by Marconi. On 14 November 1922, the BBC began daily broadcasting from the Marconi studio in the Strand. In the last 100 years, it has been Conservative Governments who have quite often made the right calls in broadcasting, not least by establishing the BBC as the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927, protected by royal charter. Its first director-general, John Reith, gave it the guiding mantra which has served it so well for nearly 100 years: to educate, inform and entertain. In so doing, we have been able to talk to each other and to the world in a way which has won trust and respect.
In the last 12 months, more than 90% of adults used BBC services each week. It is an established fact that whenever there is a national or international crisis, as the Covid pandemic has proved, the nation and the world tune in to the BBC. In its educational output, the BBC provides support for students, parents and teachers while helping the next generation to connect with our culture, arts and the creative industries, as the noble Lords, Lord Cashman and Lord Vaizey, and my noble friend Lord Storey, emphasised in their speeches.
All this should be a cause of great celebration. One of our major contributors to soft power and the promotion of excellence in every part of our national life is approaching a major milestone. Yet in recent years it has come under constant attack from political and financial interests, which would like to see it undermined and marginalised. I have said before in this House that it would greatly contribute to public understanding if our newspapers, when covering stories about the BBC, followed the example of their financial pages and carried a short note setting out the financial interests of their owners. As my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones pointed out, we now see the BBC and other public service broadcasters having to compete with international streaming services whose inward investment, welcome as it is—and their very deep pockets—have only a glancing commitment to our creative industries or cultural identity, as they promote their international products.
Over the past decade, the BBC’s UK services have seen a 30% real-terms reduction in income while being obliged to maintain their commitment to quality and relevance across all our nations and regions. During a similar contraction in public service broadcasting in the USA in the 1980s, one commentator famously said, “We will only realise what we have lost once we have lost it”. The same will be said of the BBC if we continue to allow it to be crippled by the malice of those who wish to see it diminished and destroyed.
In the months ahead, government and Parliament will have to make some fundamental decisions about the future of broadcasting in this country, from the chair of Ofcom to the future of Channel 4, from regulation of online harms to the funding of the BBC. The changes in technology and the power of the tech giants and their streaming services could mean that our creative industries become merely the sub-contractors to an international, US-dominated market, setting its own cultural and creative agenda. The distinctively British cultural content and the values that underpin them will be diluted and lost.
Her Majesty the Queen, when addressing COP 26 earlier this week, urged the participants to move beyond the short-term political and become states men and women. The same challenge should now be made to the Government in respect of our cultural and creative industries, and in that we need the support of the Conservatives on their Benches in drilling some sense into the Government about their responsibilities. Let us celebrate the success of the past century but, more important still, put in place the legislation and funding which will allow the BBC to be the iron pole of excellence around which we can foster and encourage our creative industries in the decades to come.
My Lords, it is a privilege to follow the noble Lord, and I thank my noble friend Lord Vaizey for his generous comments, even though he mistakenly honoured me with a new title. As Baroness Fleet, I declare my interests as chair of the advisory panel for the national plan for music education and co-founder and chair of the London Music Fund. I too congratulate my noble friend Lord Spencer on his maiden speech.
I also congratulate my noble friend the Minister on his success in securing funding for the creative industries. However, when I searched the mighty document for the words “arts and music education”, the closest I could find was funding for a new Beatles attraction on the Liverpool waterfront. I doubt anyone in this House is a greater fan than I of the Beatles, but whatever happened to the arts premium promised in the 2019 manifesto and raised by several noble Lords today? It is not too late for my noble friend to rescue what looks like a snub to the arts and creative industries by announcing today that he will work with the Department for Education to ensure that the arts premium will indeed be awarded to schools. The £90 million is a fraction of a fraction of the new money being distributed by the Chancellor. I note that red squirrels, no less—the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, may be interested in this—will be the beneficiary of £280 million for a wilding programme. Are red squirrels really more important to the Government than young musicians?
I hope noble Lords will indulge me if I too say a few words about the arts premium and why it is so important. First, it is important as a signal from the Government that they do care about the arts and creative industries, and also that they recognise the role that the arts play in the development of the child. Previous speakers have spoken about the financial power of the creative industries, but what of the pipeline of talent? The arts are being squeezed in schools, what with STEM and the EBacc, and it is those from the poorest and most underprivileged communities who are losing out. As chair of the Government’s advisory panel for the national plan for music education, I want to make access and inclusion a priority. Surely, we should be doing more to ensure that our brilliant creative industries have not just a trickle of new talent but a healthy flow from all communities and regions.
I want to speak specifically about the value of music education, following several noble Lords earlier. Most primary school children have the opportunity to be introduced to a musical instrument through a term or two of whole-class ensemble teaching, largely funded through music education hubs, to the tune of £79 million a year. But then what? A great many families simply cannot afford to pay for further tuition. Even if a child has real potential, they will probably fall through the net unless they can find additional support from a charity such as the London Music Fund. I co-founded this organisation at the behest of the then Mayor of London, now the Prime Minister, with a specific remit of improving access to high-quality music education for all children. We have awarded more than 600 scholarships to children from low-income families and I have seen at first hand the transformative effect that music has. It has huge social benefits, boosting mental health and self-esteem as well as improving concentration and cognitive ability, raising attainment in maths and English. Literacy, numeracy and creativity go hand in hand.
Making progress in music gives a child self-esteem and the knowledge that they can succeed and move on to university or even music college. This very weekend, I am taking one of our graduate scholars, a grade 8 musician, to Oxford for the day, as she now feels she has the self-confidence to apply to the most distinguished university to read mathematics. She is the daughter of a single mother living in a high-rise on one of London’s toughest estates. Music tuition would not have been in her family’s reach had not the London Music Fund stepped in. This young woman’s ambition and achievements owe a great deal to the part that music has played in her life.
A knowledge and love of music, nurtured in school, will lead children to the creative industries in all sorts of careers, not just as musicians, technicians and producers. Opportunities are there for so many young people and we must make sure that we supply the right young people to help create the greatest creative industries, of which we are all so proud. I hope that at the end of this debate, my noble friend the Minister will commit to working with the Department for Education to ensure that the £90 million for the arts premium is finally delivered. It is not too late.
My Lords, first, I very warmly congratulate my noble friend Lady Featherstone on her brilliant introduction and on painting a picture of the breadth of the creative industries. No debate that I can remember recently has been more inspiring. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his maiden speech, and I look forward to hearing more from him. I just say in passing to the noble Baroness, Lady Fleet, that of course red squirrels have come together with the arts in the form of Beatrix Potter, who really laid the foundations of the understanding of books for many children with The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
I must turn to what this Government are consulting on. This was touched on by my noble friends Lord Clement-Jones and Lord Foster when they explained that the Government are consulting on what sort of intellectual property regime to pursue now, after Brexit. In my contribution today, I shall emphasise the importance of a territorial—in other words a national—copyright regime to the British book trade. The British book trade has been and still is a really great success story. Britain is the world’s number one exporter of books. That is a great achievement, and the publishing industry is worth £6 billion. Culturally, British books export the English language around the world, and British books are a very important means of exerting soft power.
Of course, books are also the foundation for many films. James Bond has been much mentioned, and I am sure Ian Fleming would be very pleased that his books live on in that form. Books transform into other things, including video games, and of course people also buy books as a record of such things as exhibitions and for reference. Very importantly, books open the world, both real and imaginary, from the moment a parent starts reading to their child. Books expand our horizons. They are companions and they enable us to walk in other shoes than our own. Non-fiction books have held their own very well in a digital world. Indeed, I love books so much that I spent the first half of my working life first in publishing and then in bookselling, so I understand the critical relationship between authors, publishers and booksellers and how this relationship nurtures the new, unknown author.
Any change in the intellectual property regime would mean, for example, that a blockbuster success for a publisher and for a bookseller would be threatened. The blockbuster success is the wave that is necessary to give momentum to the trade that then carries the riskier, the lesser-known and the niche authors. Were the Government to move to an international copyright regime, floods of cheap books produced elsewhere in the world would flood on to the market, but only the blockbusters. It would undermine the publishing trade very critically and diminish authors’ incomes. It would undermine how physical books published in the UK are distributed around the world. I cannot emphasise enough that copyright is the key to the UK book trade: it offers our authors the right to protect their IP and benefit from it.
There may be a view in the Government that the book trade is old-fashioned and that authors can just publish online, but the fact that books are still such a valued purchase for the British public is partly because of their content, but partly because of how they look—their design and their typeface. The book trade is a survivor: it survived the abolition of the net book agreement, which proved a death sentence for many independent book shops, and it survived the onslaught of Amazon, which of course started out as a book outlet before it diversified into everything including the kitchen sink.
I cannot really believe that the Government wish to undermine the book trade, but can the Minister assure me that they have decided on a firm choice to maintain a system that protects British authors and the British book trade? The Conservative mantra during Brexit was “Take back control”. If the Government change the copyright regime around books, so that it takes away control from British authors, it will be a disaster for the British book trade.
I have one last question for the Minister: have the Government done an impact assessment of changing the intellectual property regime across the creative arts, and an impact assessment specifically for the British book trade on the effect of ending our British territorial protection?
My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, for securing this debate and introducing it with such clarity and passion. This debate is taking place on the auspicious day of Diwali, so I hope that future omens for the revival of creative education and industry are positive. May I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, on his inspiring maiden speech? I was delighted to hear about his Kenya connection, where I was born.
The coronavirus pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to culture and creativity across the UK. The theatre and music industries were probably hit the hardest, but we must all marvel at their resilience and ingenuity, on which we must build going forward.
The economic importance of the creative industries is beyond doubt. The figures, which we are all familiar with, speak for themselves. However, this sector is not just economically important; it is the lifeblood of innovation and diversity. This sector is the glue that holds local communities together and engenders a sense of identity and belonging. It is through creative activity that people express their sense of being. It is our greatest soft power asset, and its social and educational benefits are incalculable.
It is indeed welcome that, in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government introduced several schemes, established the Culture Recovery Fund and made some helpful announcements in the Budget. However, while these schemes have helped some, there are other issues that need greater attention. These include the impact of the pandemic on freelancers, small organisations and some specific groups; and, of course, as we have heard, the need to bolster creative education in schools for the reasons so eloquently expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty.
Freelancers and the self-employed, given the way government support was structured, were excluded from direct support and were not eligible for the furlough scheme. Freelancers are important to the creative economy. ONS data shows that at the end of 2019, around 15% of the workforce were self-employed, but that figure rose to 30% of all creative occupations and 88% of music, performing and visual arts occupations. Freelancers are very vulnerable and are overrepresented in music, performing arts and visual arts. During the pandemic, we saw their number decline.
While the recent Budget makes more support available for freelancers, it is unclear whether this will be enough for those in music, performing and visual arts. Women and young people appear to have been distinctly affected. This points to a need for more specific targeted support for these groups. Are the Government looking at this and will they be providing specific support to freelancers, particularly women and the young?
The reintroduction of the minimum income floor for universal credit will have a negative impact on freelancers with variable income. Equity has called for the abolition of the minimum income floor and the introduction of a more meaningful alternative to support freelancers. Will the Government consider this?
The pandemic crisis and the heightened debate about race following the Black Lives Matter movement raised awareness of structural inequalities and injustices. While greater efforts are being made to encourage diversity and minority representation, this is an opportunity to respond positively to structural inequities, ensuring greater involvement of minorities in decision-making, access to capital, capacity building and skills training. Apprenticeship funding is welcome, but how will this be made more attractive for the creative industries and how will the Government ensure equity in accessing these apprenticeships?
A reinvigorated debate about racial inequality has highlighted structural inequities and this provides an opportunity for an overdue conversation on how to respond to entrenched inequalities. I hope that the Government will engage with relevant groups and organisations to garner ideas and learn what effective action is needed. What action are the Government taking to ensure that this opportunity is not lost?
Research also shows that it is much harder for people from deprived backgrounds to start their career post 18 in a creative industry without a good foundation in creative education in school. As we have heard, despite the commitment to level up there was no sign of the £90 million arts premium in the Budget, as the noble Baroness, Lady Fleet, and others have said. Has this pledge been shelved? If so, why?
The role of the Government and their agencies in providing targeted policy interventions is clear. More targeted support means more devolved and place-based strategies, which are central to achieving the objectives of the levelling-up agenda. What is the Government’s sustainable strategy to ensure that the creative industries are integral to their levelling-up approach? I look forward to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Featherstone on securing this debate and on her inspiring opening speech. I also welcome the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, to this House.
I will focus on one crucial part of the creative sector’s income: what it earns from paid engagements, multi-country tours, residencies and international shows inside the European Union. The Prime Minister is fond of describing everything as “world-leading”, but if he were to take any interest in our creative industries, he would find that, here at least, that epithet is richly deserved. The imagination, ingenuity, endeavour and financial performance of our creative industries are second to none. They nurture our souls and, as our ambassadors, they bring peoples together all over the world.
We should be very proud of and grateful for the cultural joy, hard cash and soft power that our musicians, dancers, actors and fashion industry and all their teams of background staff deliver for our country—or, I should say, did deliver until the Covid pandemic struck early last year. Since then, the industry has been in hibernation, or worse. Venues have closed and tours, festivals and exhibitions have been cancelled. Performers and their staff have had to switch careers to survive; many will be permanently lost from the industry, along with their talent and experience.
You might expect that the creative industries would be celebrating the beginning of the end of our battle with Covid, which of course is far from over. Some venues have reopened, live performances have restarted and the cash tills, or these days the card machines, are back in action. However, a vital revenue stream, accounting for roughly half of many companies’ income, has been wiped out at a stroke by the Government’s trade deal with the EU. Previously, performers and their crews could work and travel around Europe without any friction or costs. Now, they are faced with mountains of red tape, crippling costs and impossible logistics. If they were to embark on a tour visiting, say, 20 venues, their trucks and vans would now have to return to the UK after just two stops.
Artists had been assured that this would not happen. On 21 January last year, Nigel Adams, then a DCMS Minister, told the other place how important easy touring is for the creative industries. He said:
“It is essential that free movement is protected for artists post 2020.”—[Official Report, Commons, 21/1/20; col. 57WH.]
He was right. That is precisely what the EU offered: a cultural visa waiver scheme. However, inexplicably, the Government rejected it, and instead proposed something completely inappropriate. It is intended for businesspeople travelling to meetings, not artists plying their trade and being paid for it. That was the end of it. The British Government never raised the subject again, and the trade deal was signed without including any mention of our second-largest industry, for which it was the worst possible outcome: a no-deal Brexit.
Our artists now operate on far worse terms than for those from Tonga. For many companies and staff, it is the final nail in the coffin after Brexit. The worst affected are younger performers and crews, and those with embryonic careers, who need income from Europe to survive and the experience that comes with international touring to develop their talent. The Government are in denial about their role in this catastrophe. Until they admit to themselves that they should have accepted the EU’s generous offer, we cannot make any progress. They need to abandon their preposterous excuse that a visa waiver scheme would somehow breach their manifesto commitment on taking control of our borders. Performers come here for a few weeks to ply their trade, then go home. They do not represent any threat whatever of uncontrolled immigration.
We must go back to Brussels and negotiate a cultural visa waiver scheme as an addendum to the trade agreement, without the need to reopen the existing treaty. Only then can our second-largest sector emerge from the darkness of the Covid winter into a spring of renewed success on the world stage. Unfortunately, the new Secretary of State postponed her meeting with Sir Elton John, which should have taken place this morning and at which he would have urged her to grasp this nettle. However, I remain hopeful that her strength of will and fresh perspective will enable her to fix this urgent problem.
My Lords, I add my thanks to my noble friend Lady Featherstone. Many superlatives have been sprinkled on her speech; I add “passionate”. I have also heard passion from around the House on this incredibly important topic. I also welcome the fine maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Spencer. I am so pleased that he chose this debate to make his maiden speech, because it was not necessarily obvious to the rest of us. It was a wonderful speech and I am pleased that he is part of this debate.
Lockdown was catastrophic for the creative industries, a sector that relies particularly on personal interaction. My own stark realisation of what was about to happen was on 16 March 2020, when the doors to Tom Stoppard’s “Leopoldstadt” literally closed in my face as I arrived. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Marland, said, the sector showed characteristic imagination and innovation and found new ways of collaborating, working and planning with communities across the land, streaming gigs, exhibitions, performances and festivals. In so doing, in some ways, it succeeded in reaching out to a more diverse audience. However, we all know that online events are no replacement for the pleasure of actual shared experience or the loss of revenue. The toll it took on the viability of venues, on the literal escape for audiences into other worlds and on the careers and lives of our fabulous creative workforce was terrible.
As the noble Lords, Lord Foster and Lord Cashman, said, this workforce was particularly vulnerable due to the precarious nature of its freelance world. Some 72% of its workers fall into this category. During lockdown, they came to be known as the “excluded” because that is what they were, unable to access government support schemes. Will the Minister listen to the calls for a freelance commissioner to ensure that resources are distributed more equally in future?
The UK’s creative and cultural workforce still does not adequately reflect the diversity of the UK population, as the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, mentioned. I hope that the Minister will pay attention to the report from the APPG for Creative Diversity, of which I am a member, on how the Government can help the sector in this area. For instance, although we welcome government investment in developing flexi-job apprenticeships with agencies, will the Minister ensure that this remains sustainable and affordable for the sector after the initial investment runs out? Also, will he ensure that some of the levelling-up support, in particular the £560 million for youth services, is available for culture and creative activities? I take this opportunity to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman-Scott, for her leadership and energy in making Kickstart work for the creative sector, as exemplified by the involvement of Pinewood and the games sector.
Our creative industries, and the cultural and artistic excellence that underpins them, make us a soft power superpower—an economic powerhouse. As the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, said, they unlock innovation. They provide social cohesion. They bring solace and, in some cases, actual healing to those struggling with physical and mental ill-health. They are gold dust, literally and metaphorically. The Chancellor acknowledged this recently when he said:
“For any country, there are probably a few things that you are world-class at. For us, in the UK, the creative industries, arts culture is something we are genuinely world-class at.”
His provision last week of an uplift in tax relief—I hope the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, hears me—was very welcome indeed.
However, why is government policy not more joined-up in its support for the creative industries? Much has been said today about education and the skills pipeline. The acquiring of a skill begins at school, as the noble Lord, Lord Storey, said. Successive Conservative Governments consistently and persistently undervalue and undermine arts education. First, it was via the EBacc. Then, it was through proposals to scrap qualifications that are still needed by the creative industries, such as BTECs and level 3 courses. Defunding existing courses before new ones are tested is a huge risk. Please can the Government stop further cuts to the funding for creative subjects in higher education, with a 50% cut for some courses having already been announced in the summer?
“STEM, not STEAM” is the Government’s mantra. It totally ignores the fact that there should not be a choice between the arts and science. They are symbiotic. As Peter Bazalgette, chair of ITV and ex-chair of Arts Council England, said in a recent speech:
“Our global competitiveness will increasingly depend on the fusion of creative and technological innovation.”
It already does. The noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, mentioned Jony Ive and the iPhone, but did your Lordships know that nine out of the last 10 special effects Oscars were won by Brits—a perfect example of this fusion? Yet this Government—the same Government whose industrial strategy prizes the creative industries as a priority sector—say that arts subjects are not strategic priorities. It is baffling. Can the Minister explain this disconnect? More importantly, will he listen to the many noble Lords, including a former Culture Minister, who have made the same point in this debate?
Then there is Brexit. We have just heard the words of my noble friend Lord Strasburger. The fact is that the creative sector was dealt a no-deal Brexit. Will the Minister respond to his requests, and those of the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, and the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty? Through their careers, they understand directly what is going on.
Finally, I want to pick up what my noble friends Lord McNally and Lord Clement-Jones highlighted. One of the most successful drivers of our world-beating creative sectors are our PSBs—a sector that feeds directly into levelling up. They make programmes across the country, boosting local economies and utilising local skills. They and our cultural institutions are central to promoting the UK around the world. It is about soft power. When he was Foreign Secretary, our now Prime Minister described the BBC as
“the single greatest and most effective ambassador for our culture and our values”
and a crucial contributor to Britain’s role as a soft power superpower.
The PSBs held us together during the pandemic, providing news that people could trust and, in the case of the BBC, essential support for home schooling. Can the Minister explain why this Government are seeking to slash the funds of the BBC and privatise Channel 4? Why, as the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, asked, are they so determined that a man such as Paul Dacre, who was deemed unsuitable to chair the PSB regulator Ofcom by the last interview panel, should be encouraged to apply again, with the job description tweaked to favour his application, as highlighted on Twitter? The old job ad said that candidates for the Ofcom chair needed to “support the chief executive”, while the new one says that candidates need to “challenge” the CEO. The old ad said that candidates need “familiarity” with regulation, while the new one says that they need an “understanding” of regulation.
Finally, I return to something Peter Bazalgette said in his recent speech. He asked why, as a nation, we overinform ourselves about declining industrial sectors and underinform ourselves about high-growth ones, such as the creative industries. Let us shout out about what we are so good at and invest in it in a joined-up way, as so eloquently put by my noble friend Lady Featherstone. Then I suggest we raise a glass of British sparkling wine—a great creation in itself.
My Lords, this has been a rich debate. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, and congratulate her on securing this opportunity for your Lordships’ House. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Spencer, and welcome him to this House from these Benches. I look forward to hearing more from him on the creative sector, wildlife and all allied and unconnected issues.
First, I will make a tribute. I put on record my recognition that, during the pandemic, sportsmen and sportswomen competed in empty stadiums, musicians rehearsed in their bedrooms and streamed performances online, technology kept us in touch with our family and friends both around the corner and across the globe, and writers and broadcasters lifted our spirits and helped us to make sense of an unprecedented and frightening situation. As my noble friend Lady McIntosh so eloquently said, the BBC was at the heart of all that. We owe our thanks to the whole creative sector.
I was struck by the number of excellent briefings I received in preparation for this debate, and I am sure many noble Lords were in such receipt. I take this to be an indicator of the strength of will of the creative sector, which needs a voice and effective government support as it strives to overcome immense challenges to survive and thrive.
As my noble friend Lord Bassam detailed so helpfully at the outset of this debate, the UK creative sector is a major contributor to our economy that is ignored at our peril. However, it is important to say that, while economic growth is important to the nation, so is our health and well-being. The creative sector makes its contribution to that area in spades.
As the debate today laid bare, there is an inconsistency of approach and action from different government departments and the debate has rightly called for an effective cross-government strategy, which is desperately needed. I hope the Minister will deliver on this.
There were of course doubts even before the pandemic struck, but these doubts have solidified over the past 18 months. Covid-19 presented a potentially fatal threat to many parts of the sector and, while government support was made available, it was often too slow to arrive. It appeared to be allocated somewhat arbitrarily and was limited in scope, or subject to conditions when given.
While the Government may like to point to their various economic support schemes during the pandemic, they are still unable to satisfactorily answer why freelancers and certain other creatives were excluded from the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. There was also the debacle of the pulled advertising campaign which aimed to push people in the creative sector to retrain and take up positions in other fields.
We recognise other, more recent announcements of support for parts of the sector, including extra awards under the UK Global Screen Fund, but the overall value of this support—just over £1 million across 18 new film productions—remains small when compared to other areas of government funding. We also saw the botched handling of the events research programme earlier in the pandemic, which saw findings delayed and businesses having to cancel proposed events due to the uncertainty they faced. While TV and film were able to operate, albeit at a reduced capacity, during parts of the pandemic, music and other venues were closed for extended periods. It is no surprise, therefore, that a recent report by UK Music suggests that one in three jobs in the British music industry was lost during 2020, ending a decade of solid growth. UK Music’s research was unable to say how many of these jobs had returned in 2021 following the reopening of most venues. Perhaps the Minister can help us with that.
On certain levels, it was heartening to see the creative industries secure their own dedicated section in the Chancellor’s autumn Budget Statement last week. However, it seemed to reflect the Government’s wider approach to the sector in that it was short, lacked detail and was backed up by relatively modest sums of money. The extension of tax reliefs will help a variety of venues and sites as visitor numbers begin to increase, but what further plans can the Minister outline for aiding the recovery?
Of course we all love the Beatles, as we have heard many times in this debate. However, does the Minister not feel that the £2 million earmarked for a new attraction on the Liverpool Waterfront could have gone to something rather more current and useful, perhaps to inspire the next generation of musicians? While we are talking about Liverpool, perhaps he can say why the Government did not do more to protect the city’s UNESCO world heritage status?
Many noble Lords have spoken today about their concerns about the lack of access to learning and training in creative subjects, and the failure to address the concern that the sector may well face a shortage of new talent. The noble Lord, Lord Cashman, spoke very movingly of the life chances he was given through theatre studies as the school he attended and said that, without those, he would not be where he is today. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, said that music lessons should not be the exclusive preserve of those who can afford them. I urge the Minister to commit to working across government to ensure that access to education in the creative sector is the preserve of not only those who can pay but all those who can learn and develop their talent.
Will the Minister ensure recognition of creative subjects as being of strategic importance, in line with the plan for growth, alongside STEM subjects? Can he do his level best to deal with the misplaced chatter around creative education, with courses sometimes being considered as a burden on the taxpayer and not strategic subjects? It is time we got past this attitude.
The chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation has said that
“the limited expansion of R&D tax relief—which continues to exclude many in our sector—is disappointing, as is the missing arts premium, an election manifesto commitment made only two years ago. The creative industries have the power to drive economic growth and regeneration across our country, and creative skills are vital for a future-proof workforce.”
Will the Minister resurrect the arts premium, which would have amounted to around £270 million in funding according to the Arts Professional website?
As the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, laid out so clearly, UK creatives suffer from having to deal with so many obstacles to the possibility of working in the EU. We have discussed this many times in this House. When will we see a concerted effort—and the results of those efforts—to sweep away the costs, delays and barriers that fashion workers, entertainers and all other creatives face when simply seeking to travel, often at short notice, to work and do business in the EU?
With the right government support and strategy, creativity in this country has the power to change and to give chances to many—I hope that it will be so.
My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, was able to secure this debate, which has allowed us to recognise the great value of the creative industries to the United Kingdom. I am particularly glad that she managed to secure it now, for I am one month into my new role and still pinching myself at my good fortune to have been given the opportunity to try to do some good for sectors which I hold so dear, as I know all noble Lords who have spoken in today’s debate do. As my noble friend Lord Vaizey said, this is a fantastic job, and one that comes with a big in-tray. It is also a great responsibility to look after one of our economy’s crown jewels: our creative sector.
The Government have a long and deep commitment to supporting our creative industries. That was shown through the 2018 creative industries sector deal, which invested more than £150 million across the life cycle of creative businesses. It was also shown in last week’s Budget where, even in a challenging economic climate, we announced a further £42 million over the next three years to support our world-leading creative industries across the UK.
I was very grateful to the noble Baroness for her recognition of what the Budget and spending review meant for the creative sector. I make no apology for beginning my remarks by dwelling on that Budget. I think she undersold it when she talked about fig leaves; this is a huge investment of taxpayers’ money, going to a part of our economy which is one of our crown jewels, as I said. In addition to the £42 million I just mentioned, last week we announced temporary increases to the headline rates of tax relief for theatres, museums, orchestras and galleries across the United Kingdom until the end of March 2024, which increases—and in some cases doubles—the relief that organisations can claim as they invest in new productions and exhibitions. It is a fantastic and widely welcomed boost for our world-class creative sector and is worth almost a quarter of a billion pounds. We also announced changes to the film and high-end TV tax reliefs to allow production companies to switch between claiming either film or high-end TV during production, ensuring that relief is not lost if a company decides to change its distribution method. We more than doubled the borrowing limit of the BBC’s commercial arm to £750 million in stepped phases between next year and 2026-27, subject to confirmation on oversight arrangements.
We also recognise that there are wider opportunities to improve the efficiency of creative businesses through improved digital connectivity and mobile coverage through a landmark investment to deliver one of the largest ever upgrades to our digital infrastructure. More broadly, as we said in the Budget, we are providing up to £150 million of additional funding for the national museums, galleries and other DCMS public bodies to help them recover from the pandemic and to level up across the country, providing more spaces for creative people to display their work and for people to come and enjoy and engage with it. Again, all of this demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting our creative sector and recognises that it contributes to our economic recovery and delivers on the Government’s key priorities on levelling up and extolling the virtues of global Britain.
While the pandemic has heavily affected some of our creative industries, the Government have provided them with unprecedented levels of support which, again, the noble Baroness and others paid generous tribute to. The Culture Recovery Fund was extended by a further £300 million over the summer, taking it close to £2 billion—the largest ever investment in the arts in this country. It would be remiss of me not to pay tribute to my right honourable friend Oliver Dowden, my honourable friend Caroline Dinenage, my noble friend Lady Barran and others who were a part of that work, as well as my right honourable friend the Chancellor, who is the Member of Parliament for the rural and culturally vibrant market town rightly extolled by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, and who has demonstrated his personal and the Government’s wholehearted support for our creative sectors through the Budget. We have gone further still, announcing last week an £800 million live events reinsurance scheme and an extension to the £500 million film and TV production restart scheme, both of which will enable UK events and productions to thrive and plan with certainty.
I am pleased to say that we have seen activity rebound close to pre-pandemic levels across many parts of the creative industries already, but it is clear that this rebound is not spread equally as some audience-facing sectors, such as live music, are still considerably down on pre-pandemic levels. In the visits and engagements I have been doing with organisations up and down the country, I have heard very clearly their concerns about the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the importance of building confidence among the public to book and enjoy what is on offer.
I was sorry to hear that the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, is not as enthusiastic as the Government are about the new Beatles attraction in Liverpool. To reassure her, this is not just a museum. Indeed, it is designed to inspire future generations, as she hopes it will. It may include a new secondary school and there will be rehearsal space for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. As the director of culture at Liverpool City Council has rightly said, this will be about more than just the Beatles. The Fab Four are the hook, but Liverpool City Council and the Government are really excited about how this gets kids from some of the poorest areas of Liverpool to create and explore their passion for music. I hope that we will be able to convince the noble Baroness as that comes to fruition.
She and other noble Lords talked about freelancers. We are well aware of the effects of the pandemic and its differential impact on people, based on the roles they perform. The Government recognise the vital contribution that freelancers make to our creative industries. We have provided unprecedented support to self-employed people throughout the pandemic, and up until the end of September, freelancers were able to access financial support through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, which has so far helped nearly 3 million people. Of course, I am keen to engage with freelancers. We speak to the Creative Industries Council, but I want to speak to freelancers on an individual level to understand how the pandemic affected them and what more support they might need.
A great many noble Lords dwelt on the importance of education. That was a point well made in the excellent maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Spencer of Alresford, whom I warmly welcome to your Lordships’ House. He talked about the importance of creativity and innovation for all sectors. Of course, the transferrable skills that creative industries and endeavours give us, such as communication, teamwork, self-confidence, perseverance, lateral thinking and so much more, are of great benefit and have been to companies like his—ICAP—and so many more.
To that end, following the point he, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and others made on R&D and createch, I again point to the 2018 sector deal, through which the Government worked to recognise the importance of R&D to the creative industries and the opportunities to drive local growth by supporting it in creative clusters across the UK. We invested £39 million in the creative clusters programme through UKRI, which connects clusters of creative businesses and academia to take advantage of the most recent research and innovation, so that they can grow. Those clusters are spread across the country, from Cardiff to Edinburgh and Leeds to Belfast. I am pleased to say to my noble friend Lord Dundee that we confirmed in the spending review that we will support the UK games fund, which is based in Dundee, over the next three years.
On innovation more broadly, which my noble friend Lord Spencer talked about, the sector deal supported the Audiences of the Future work programme, which encouraged creative businesses to use innovative new technologies to reach new audiences. To date, that has provided funding of over £37 million, with investment from the industry, to more than 130 businesses and research organisations. Of course the pandemic has put turbochargers on that and I join the noble Baroness, Lady Merron, and others who paid tribute to the way that people across the sector threw themselves into making sure that people could continue to perform and do what they love and that the public more widely were able to see and enjoy that. We have seen across the sector lots of fantastic ways in which organisations have brought their work to new and wider audiences. When I visited the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester I saw how the Cultural Recovery Fund money helped it to invest in some technology which brought its work to wider—indeed, international—audiences, which will have some benefit after the pandemic as well.
Noble Lords talked about the importance of education in schools. I speak as a proud graduate of the state comprehensive system. I pay tribute to the work that teachers do in inspiring creativity in so many pupils up and down the country. The Government are committed to ensuring that all children and young people have a broad and balanced curriculum, of which creative education is a key part. Music and art and design are part of the national curriculum and remain compulsory in all maintained schools for five to 14 year-olds, and pupils have an entitlement to study at least one arts subject at key stage 4 in maintained schools. I am aware of the discrepancies between the private and the state sector. I recently saw my old drama teacher from school. I was very lucky to go to a school which had fantastic facilities: a drama studio, a fully equipped auditorium and music rehearsal spaces. After I left and towards the end of her career my teacher moved into the private sector because the facilities that she was able to enjoy and use for the benefit of her pupils were so much better. It is a discrepancy of which the Government are well aware and which we are keen to address.
Noble Lords talked about the arts premium. With the significant impact of the pandemic on children’s learning, our priorities have inevitably had to focus on educational recovery over the next three years. That is why core funding for schools will rise by £4.7 billion by 2024-25, equivalent to a cash increase of £1,500 per pupil. We value the arts not just for their own sake but as part of our recovery from Covid. That is why we also invest around £115 million a year on a diverse portfolio of music and arts education programmes, including Saturday art and design clubs, the National Youth Dance Company and the BFI Film Academy, which are designed to improve access to the arts for all children, regardless of their background, and to develop talent across the country. I am pleased to say that I am to have a meeting with my colleague Robin Walker, the new Minister of State at the Department for Education, where I will certainly be taking up many of the points that were raised by noble Lords in today’s debate, and I will be pinching my noble friend Lady Fleet’s line about red squirrels, which helps focus minds.
Noble Lords talked about the EBacc. I gently note that it was introduced under the coalition Government in which I had the pleasure of working with the noble Baroness and other noble Lords on the Lib Dem Benches. Schools have time beyond the EBacc to teach other subjects. Indeed, the EBacc was designed to be limited in size in order to allow for that. The best schools in the country combine excellence in EBacc subjects with high-quality arts and cultural education. However, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, is right to point to the vocational nature of these subjects in schools and in pupils’ future careers. It is important that we recognise that people are able to have a rewarding career in the arts in every sense, not just lucratively, although there are great opportunities, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic, for people to have careers which pay them well. I saw a brilliant example of that last night at the Royal Albert Hall when I went to see the Music for Youth Remix Prom. Nearly 2,000 young people from state schools and orchestras and youth groups up and down the country, from Cornwall to Teesside, went to the Royal Albert Hall and performed with each other in that fantastic space. The grins on their faces said it all, even before they had produced a note. It was wonderful to see.
Music education remains a central part of a broad and balanced curriculum in schools. That is why it is part of the national curriculum. A new national plan for music education will be published early next year following the publication of the model music curriculum earlier this year. It will aim to ensure that every future pupil has the opportunity to sing, learn a musical instrument and make music with others. My noble friend Lady Fleet knows it well because she chairs the expert advisory panel that has been assembled to guide the development of the plan. It is made up of teachers, music education hub leaders, industry representatives and other music education experts, including representatives from the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, UK Music and the Arts Council. Of course, this is another area where I am mindful that the responsibility lies with both DCMS and the Department for Education. I know that my noble friend Lady Barran, who was a Minister in your Lordships’ House for DCMS and is now at the DfE, answered Questions on that. I hope that gives noble Lords reassurance that a joined-up approach to government can be seen from this reshuffle.
The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and other noble Lords talked about the importance of careers advice. I share the concern that perhaps in the past careers advice in this area has owed rather a lot to Noël Coward’s “Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington”, but I am pleased to say that the National Careers Service website is working to address that. It includes more than 120 profiles in the creative and media sector, each profile describing what those roles entail, the qualifications needed and the entry routes. In addition, DCMS funded the Creative Careers Programme as part of our sector deal commitment. It saw £2 million of government funding leveraged by a further £8 million of in-kind support from more than 1,000 creative employers. The programme is designed to reduce the aspirational, informational, postcode and reputational barriers to entry into the creative industries. It has so far informed and inspired more than 115,000 young people about job opportunities which are available in the cultural and creative sectors.
Noble Lords also talked about higher education. The noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, referred to a 50% cut in some arts subjects. It is important to dwell in some detail on that. What was announced in July this year by the Office for Students was a 50% cut to the strategic priorities grant to some subjects in this academic year. The strategic priorities grant, which is annual funding supplied by the Government to supplement higher education providers’ income where tuition fees alone do not meet the high cost of provision, is just one of the additional funding sources which are available to providers alongside tuition fees. The cut which she mentioned represents a small proportion— around 1%—of providers’ overall income. It was designed as a reprioritisation to target taxpayers’ money towards the subjects which are helping the National Health Service during the pandemic and will help it recover from it; that is, science, technology, engineering and the specific needs of the labour market. We know that high-quality provision in a range of subjects, including the arts, is also critical for our workforce, our economy and our society more broadly, which is why the Office for Students also allocated an additional £10 million this academic year to our world-leading specialist providers, including several top institutions such as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music.
The noble Lords, Lord Foster and Lord Bassam, and others talked about apprenticeships as a further route, and the Government are making apprenticeships more flexible so that they can better meet the needs of employers in all sectors. In August, we launched a new £7 million flexi-job apprenticeship fund to support the greater use of apprenticeships, such as in the creative industries, where flexible working practices are commonplace, including short periods of project-based employment.
I am pleased to point to ScreenSkills, which is piloting a flexi-job apprenticeship training model funded by DCMS with the support of Netflix and Warner Bros. That pilot is funding 20 apprentices in production assistant and production accountant roles, and aims to widen participation in the film sector further. Widening participation is another key point which has come up again and again in today’s debate and about which the Government also feel strongly. Noble Lords will have heard in all the utterances from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State since she was appointed the importance of widening participation and access so that people can enjoy and participate in our creative industries. As she has said, a working-class background should never be a barrier to a successful career in the creative industries. We want to increase access to opportunities across the board as part of our plan to level up. That touches on the points rightly raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, about racial diversity. We want everybody, whatever their background, to be able to play their part.
That is why, this year, DCMS co-funded the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre’s report on Social Mobility in the Creative Economy. It is why we are working with groups such as the All-Party Group on Creative Diversity, which the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, mentioned and the creative industries to look at that vital area. We know that there is much to be done, but with the Secretary of State from Merseyside and a Minister from Tyneside, I hope that noble Lords will be reassured that there is a team of Ministers determined to do it.
I touch on the importance of touring, following our departure from the EU. The noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, said that no thought had been given to this; I think that was a little unfair. The UK took an ambitious approach during the negotiations with the EU which would have ensured that touring artists and their support staff did not need work permits to perform in the European Union. Regrettably, that was rejected by the EU. I point to our recent trade deal with the three EFTA countries—Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein—which was based on the same offer and accepted, which shows that our proposals were workable and that we are fighting to help musicians and other touring performers tour abroad.
In many areas, the arrangements are much more straightforward than has at times been reported. For instance, 20 member states offered visa and work permit-free routes for musicians and creative performers. That includes most of the biggest touring markets, including France, Germany and the Netherlands. Portable musical instruments carried or in a vehicle can be transported cost-free and should not require ATA carnets, and small splitter vans are not subject to the TCA limits on cabotage and cross-trade.
We are working with the remaining member states which do not allow visa-free and permit-free touring, such as Spain and Portugal, to encourage them to make touring easier. We want all our European friends to be able to enjoy the economic and cultural benefits that UK touring artists bring, as we do from the EU creative performers who can tour easily here. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley of Knighton, asked about Spain in particular. I can tell him that my honourable friend Wendy Morton, the Foreign Office Minister, had a meeting with her counterparts in Spain on 30 September, and Her Majesty’s ambassador to Spain met the Spanish Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration on 14 October. We continue to engage actively at ministerial and official level, and I will certainly keep the noble Lord posted on it.
I am almost running out of time but I turn to the publishing industry, which the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, and many others pointed to. I am very mindful, the morning after the Booker prize was awarded, of the importance of books; I send my congratulations to Damon Galgut on his success last night. I am also the Minister with responsibility for libraries, and point to the fantastic work that many of them did to continue to loan books and be a huge support to people, particularly those who were home schooling during parts of the pandemic. DCMS is incredibly proud of the British publishing industry. It is a huge success story, as the noble Baroness said, and a big part of our soft power. Our books are read the world over, turned into TV shows and films, and boost the economy in all sorts of ways. Publishers have shown incredible resilience during the pandemic. Indeed, the value of the UK publishing sector rose by 2% to nearly £6.5 billion, so clearly a lot of people found solace in books during the pandemic.
Now that we are in recovery from the pandemic, we want publishers to bounce back and build back stronger than ever. The focus for Ministers at DCMS is to ensure that the publishing sector is accessible to all. We want more authors from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds, as well as people working in the industry more broadly.
The noble Baroness and others asked about the IP exhaustion regime. The Government recently held a consultation on the UK’s future exhaustion of intellectual property rights regime. The Intellectual Property Office held constructive discussions with stakeholders across multiple sectors, including representatives from the creative industries and design sectors. The Government are assessing the options and will make a decision in due course.
The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, the noble Lord, Lord McNally, and others talked about the BBC. I hope that she heard the words of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State during the party conference season that the BBC is a “beacon for the world”. The appointments of both the BBC chairman and a new chairman for Ofcom have followed the Governance Code on Public Appointments.
I am keen to give the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, time to respond, so I will draw my remarks to a close there. I promise to write to all noble Lords whose questions I have been unable to cover. She said that she wanted to see a Government who understand values and promote our creative sector. I hope that she has seen from what I have been able to say in the limited time today that we indeed have such a Government and such a Minister, and I am very grateful for all the thoughts that have been raised in today’s debate.
I thank the Minister. I will not detain the House long. I thank all noble Lords. I said at the beginning that they would give of their wisdom to the Government, and they have, in some wise and wonderful speeches from right across the House. I offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Spencer. I must confess that I googled him prior to the debate, and his hinterland is very interesting— I recommend reading about it.
The Minister’s response was a fine gallop through all the wonderful things the Government are doing, but the point of this debate and the point I have been trying to get across to him is that we need a fundamental change of gear, a shift of policy and funding. Of course, when you have a whole department, you do a lot of very good things, but it is not good enough. From what we have heard across this Chamber, I think that we want more. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions today, and let us carry on fighting for a sector that needs its champions.