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House of Lords Hansard
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Local Arts and Cultural Services
30 March 2017
Volume 782

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to protect and improve local arts and cultural services, including museums, libraries and archaeological services.

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My Lords, we have a rich and diverse local arts and cultural life within the UK. I refer to the museums, libraries and archaeological services in the title of the debate because when I first tabled it in May last year, none of these areas had been discussed in this House for some time and they form something of an intimate group. But we could also talk about the visual arts, film, theatre, music, dance, digital arts and many other areas that also make up the arts aspect of the debate. This cultural life is hugely important to us all as individuals, for the good of society, the development of the arts and the protection of our heritage. It is essential that this broad range of work is protected and developed, but it cannot be overemphasised that since 2010, with the onset of austerity, provision for local arts and culture has been steadily and in some cases drastically eroded, mainly through cuts to local authority arts and cultural funding.

This year, councils will spend £10 billion less than they did in 2010-11. According to the Local Government Association, councils will face a gap of £5.8 billion just to fund statutory services, including social care. Local authority investment in arts and culture has declined by £236 million—overall, 17%—since 2010, and in the period 2010-15, Arts Council funding fell by 36%. The Museums Association reports that between 2010-11 and 2015-16, local authority spending on museums and galleries declined by 31% in real terms and that at least 64 museums have closed since 2010—the majority due to local authority cuts—including many much-loved museums such as the Lancashire textiles museums. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals records that in 2014-15, more than 100 libraries closed in the UK, while in the same year 11% of the libraries in Wales were closed. These are fairly shocking figures.

Many authorities are now faced with impossible decisions. I am grateful to the Minister for his concern over the future of the internationally important New Art Gallery Walsall and I am glad that it has been saved. But the same round of cuts in Walsall has led to the decision to close nine of Walsall’s 16 libraries—a library service which this year happens to have been nominated for Library of the Year at the British Book Awards. It is not just a question of outright closures, but of the quality of provision. The Museums Association stated that in 2015, one in five regional museums was at least part closed. There are reduced opening hours for museums and libraries and significant reductions in staff, and the number of qualified librarians employed in libraries has fallen by 25% since 2010. Reductions in outreach programmes are reported by theatres, art galleries, museums and archaeology. There are concerns about the risk of inappropriate deaccessioning, and in 2014 two Northampton museums lost their accreditation status over the sale of the Sekhemka statue. There are increasing difficulties with improving collections, not just because of funding but because often, there is not the expertise to oversee it. Now, we even see the introduction of charges at our once entirely public museums—for instance, the York Art Gallery and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

The latest authorities to announce huge cuts include Bath and North-East Somerset Council, Bristol and Birmingham, where the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is now quite extraordinarily under threat. The community organisation Theatre Bath states that cuts will be,

“killing off any hope of a supportive arts infrastructure for emerging or small-scale artists”.

Theatres such as the Playhouse in Liverpool and Newcastle Theatre Royal have become host venues for touring productions rather than producing their own work. We are in danger of destroying the innovative grass roots, including those which supply the West End.

Local authority involvement in archaeology is clearly necessary, not least because 90% of known archaeological sites are undesignated and rely on local planning. It seems clear to me—I am sure that the noble Lords, Lord Renfrew and Lord Redesdale, will clarify this further—that local archaeology cannot be divorced from the work of local authorities, yet as a result of the cuts, since 2006 there has been a 33% decline in crucially important local authority archaeology staff. Unless local authorities can identify concerns, the protection of our archaeology will be neglected.

All who work in the arts and cultural sector are resourceful people; it is part of their nature. I read this week of two artists who have received planning permission to open a skip as a gallery in Hoxton Square in Shoreditch. On the wider scale, resourcefulness will only go so far. If it went further, museums, libraries and arts organisations would not be closing or going to the wall. It is telling that the Library of Birmingham Development Trust, established to attract philanthropic donations, has now been wound up. Philanthropy will most often not work in the places where funding is most needed.

For local arts and culture, local authority involvement in funding is crucial. At its best, it works because local people are the experts on their own region. It works because it is effective and efficient. It is important because it provides geographically comprehensive coverage, yet, in the face of cuts, Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association, has said that,

“there is a danger that whole communities will be left without museums and the rich and diverse stories that they can tell”.

Every locality and every person, irrespective of where they live or who they are, deserves arts and cultural access. This is not in the first place a business, as the Government are trying to turn many of our services into; it is a right and it is a necessity. There should be statutory provision for local arts and culture. This is not about competition between services. Central government should ensure that every local authority has enough funding to do its job properly in every service they cover. It is failing in that duty.

I hope that the Minister will not refer to specific projects as though they are the main narrative—welcome as such initiatives may be individually, they should not be treated as such. The Arts Council continues to make it clear that they are not a substitute for local funding. I say this because of the understandably angry reception given this week by writers to the new £4 million Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund, calling it,

“a smokescreen to hide the cuts”.

The fund is of course a drop in the ocean compared with the £180 million loss to libraries since 2010. Francesca Simon has said with perfect simplicity:

“Libraries first and foremost need to be open, with professional librarians and well-stocked shelves”.

Funding is not now the only problem. The growth of what might be termed a “developer and investor-led culture” and the selling-off of public spaces and buildings—trends rooted in central government policy—mean fewer opportunities for local arts to gain a purchase. A new report, Creative Tensions, by the London Assembly Regeneration Committee, finds that a third of artists in London are expected to lose studios by 2019. There needs to be protection of the arts and cultural sector against soaring rents. It should not be said that, in London, individuals and smaller arts organisations are not suffering a tough time as well. I ask the Minister, too—this is a question about the private sector—whether he will look into the potentially disastrous effect of the new business rates on our high street bookshops, which are important alongside libraries in the fight against illiteracy.

I make no apology for having painted a bleak outlook for the day-to-day running of the arts and cultural services. Unless the Government change their strategy, it will become bleaker. Where this trend has been bucked to an extent, it has been for particular reasons, not least the substantial help that the EU has given over the years, including, for instance, to the Sage Gateshead and the Liverpool Everyman. Indeed, Liverpool has benefited hugely from being European Capital of Culture in 2008, as is Hull now as UK City of Culture. I ask the Minister whether there will be an attempt to maintain these EU funding connections, which are intrinsically bound up with all-important cultural co-operation. A significant purpose of arts and culture at the local level, both for individuals and local areas, is as a vehicle for connection to the wider world, both nationally and beyond. If we leave the single market, it will be disastrous for artists and all those working in the cultural sector, for whom free movement within Europe is essential.

It can rightly be argued that, to encourage access to art and culture for young people, education is crucial. I welcome Nicholas Serota’s announcement on Tuesday of the Durham commission, which I hope will look to a time beyond the EBacc when children in all schools will have a properly rounded education.

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My Lords, in his first speech as the new chairman of the Arts Council, Sir Nicholas Serota made clear his priorities:

“I need to voice long-term concerns around public investment, and especially the loss of local authority funding—which is now the most pressing issue, day to day, for many cultural organisations across the country”.

Spending by councils on arts, culture, museums, galleries and libraries declined from £1.42 billion to £1.2 billion between 2010 and 2015, a 16% reduction, because of the squeeze put on local authorities by central government. But local authorities are making an enormous effort to cherish their arts and community policies; they know how valuable they are in economic terms—the creative industries are now worth £84 billion a year to the economy—as well as in human terms.

I shall cite two examples. In 2016, Manchester’s six largest cultural organisations contributed £135.9 million to the local economy. Over the past 20 years, its strategic investment has transformed the cultural reputation of the city—solving its social problems, too, such as loneliness—and its community spirit and well-being, nursed through the emotional and spiritual value of music, theatre, dance and literature. In 2016, Lonely Planet rated Manchester eighth out of the 10 best cities to visit, calling it a cultural dynamo of British culture. Culture has been one of the sectors enjoying double-digit employment growth in Greater Manchester. How much more could have been achieved in wealth and social cohesion without the shackles of ongoing government cuts?

Take another local council with an enlightened view of cultural value—my own borough of Camden, which prioritises culture, primarily by keeping a community festival funding stream that promotes community cohesion through local cultural celebration. I see for myself how this brings neighbours together and promotes literacy, opportunity and well-being. Camden is developing ways of working and seeking new partnerships at all times.

Both Manchester and Camden are vigorous, enlightened Labour councils, fighting in the teeth of government cuts to keep and extend their cultural reach. For whatever reasons—entrepreneurial, social or inspirational—the Government must recommend the Manchester and Camden models and recognise and value the range of inspiration nestling within those rural and urban communities.

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My Lords, in three minutes you can hardly say anything, but I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for including archaeology in the debate. I shall deal with a couple of points raised in the excellent briefings from the Council for British Archaeology and the Society for Museum Archaeology.

Some 90% of archaeological sites at present are protected only by the planning system, which is a problem given that one-third of those employed by local authority planning services in archaeology have lost their jobs since 2006. That is an ongoing problem for archaeology because, like every other arts area, it is within the discretionary spend of local authorities and is therefore probably the only area they can squeeze. But of course, that is leading to major problems. In a recent survey, half of museums did not have an expert in the field of collections, and many museums have stopped taking archaeological artefacts into their collections because they do not have the space or the money to do so. That is going to cause real problems. It has been pushed on to the private sector, and the excellent work of the York Archaeological Trust should be noted. However, given the flooding of Jorvik, the ability to undertake this work on behalf of the local council is severely under threat, which will cause a major problem for the digging up of artefacts in the York area.

There is another problem coming down the line. Because archaeology is not a statutory responsibility—although it could be seen as one in the planning Bill—how long before developers start seeing it as something they have to undertake because they know that councils do not have the expertise or even ability to do anything about it? That question has been asked several times and is probably rhetorical, but I hope the Minister can give an answer.

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My Lords, truly successful places that people want to visit and live in are always much more than economic powerhouses. Strong economies are always underpinned by a sense of creative vibrancy and cultural identity. That is as true now for towns and cities in the UK as it was for Florence in the Renaissance and London in the 1850s.

Unlike the noble Earl, I speak with no special expertise in this area, but as a local historian I am a heavy user of the museums, study centres and county archives of Norfolk and have come to appreciate the extraordinary role that local authorities can and do play in investing in our arts. I know that 2015-16 seemed like a bad year, with a sharp decline in educational visits and some predictable reductions in overseas ones, and it can feel extravagant to a local authority to invest in this area. However, new analysis by the Local Government Network showed that, perhaps surprisingly, if we look back over the past two to three years, the picture is not quite as the noble Earl reported. Many local authorities have protected their arts and culture funding and it has not taken disproportionate cuts. It is worth remembering that they have managed to sustain investment when some people here speaking up for social care would say that they have taken even further cuts. So they have managed.

How do we tackle this problem? Joint enterprise has already been mentioned. The Minister will remember last year’s report from the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which highlighted Norfolk museum service’s hub model of museums and galleries, with collaborations with national institutions such as the British Museum, the Tate and the National History Museum—a mutually creative partnership since 1974 and a very cost-effective way of investing. Norfolk and Suffolk have also combined to create an East Anglia cultural board, which recognises that cultural tourism brings people into the region and encourages people to settle there. Social mobility is fostered by local arts, and social capital is not always allied to intellectual capital. Social creative capital can create social mobility.

I want in my last minute to comment on the crazy imbalance in arts funding between London and the rest of the UK. I know that Arts Council England is uplifting 4% more funding in 2018-22 to the regions, but at present the imbalance is shameful. It is often the provinces that produce artistic capital. It is a great shame that we do not have agreement on how to tackle the shift. We need to agree on a mechanism to get more money into the regions.

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My Lords, I invite us to think about this issue from the point of view of the local and that of the consumer. As a poorly-paid clergyman, I have been a consumer of libraries all my life to get books. We are in an age that is moving from discrete organisations such as museums and libraries to what are called cultural hubs, and moving from the static to the dynamic and participative. We have to think about the people who we want to engage with culture and the arts. We are also in a moment where municipal life is dissolving before our eyes. That is partly because of lack of interest in public space and responsibility, so we have to be careful about looking simply to local authorities to bail us out.

Churches have, as your Lordships know, long been cultural hubs with all kinds of activities such as music, worship and learning, and building values between people. Let me give a very quick picture. A phenomenon in the Church of England is called “messy church”. People of all generations come together there for worship, craft making, consuming food and having fun. It is a cultural-bonding, value-creating moment with which people join in. That is where culture is going and where we have to make our pitch to keep the arts and culture alive. In the city of Derby, where I work, we have secular equivalents of our messy church. The museums have come together to form an independent trust. QUAD is an independent trust and charity, which has a cinema with other activities. They are messy cultural and artistic spaces which invite people to join, learn and be developed. They are the models that we have got to go with.

I have four questions for the Minister about the practicalities of how we are going to develop a culture of cultural development. First, VAT relief is available on theatre tickets and production costs but what is the equivalent for non-profit cinemas, for instance? Secondly, business rates have been mentioned but what is the guidance for business rates on emerging cultural hubs? Thirdly, there is a lot of pressure on local government and the national Government are blamed for withdrawing grants. What is the potential for local taxation to invite local people to participate properly? Fourthly, how are our churches, 15,000 of them across the country, going to be able to contribute to culture and art as a local phenomenon that people participate in?

If we are going to be worried about education, health and priorities, only a healthy cultural connectivity in our society will enable people to have the will and the wherewithal to support important things such as health and education.

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My Lords, we are indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for this timely question on local arts and cultural services. As my time is so short I will, like the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, restrict my contribution mainly to archaeological problems. I should declare an interest as chair of the Treasure Valuation Committee. The workings of the Treasure Act, like those of the local planning authorities, owe much to the archaeological expertise on the ground: to the finds liaison officers and archaeological officers working in county planning departments. In general the system works well, or at any rate has worked well until now, with the help of finds liaison officers. The relevant planning authorities generally seek the advice of archaeological officers.

As the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has already emphasised, however, the 33% decline in local authority archaeology staff since 2006 is a matter of great concern. The number working has declined from 400 to 271 staff. They advise on planning consents, conditions and circumstances where rescue excavation is appropriate and, where necessary, they maintain the historic environment record. It is a matter of concern that this attrition has left a number of local authorities without professional archaeological advice. Middlesbrough is one case which is a matter of concern.

Museums are responsible for maintaining archaeological archives, and the archives, which are the result of rescue excavation and other studies, are essential for supporting the historic environment record, which is the basis for granting planning permission or for withholding it where there are archaeological objections. This is a general problem. I am not certain that it is fair to lay the problem at the door of the present Government, nor have members on the other side of the Committee—who are very numerous—done so in particular. But it is a matter for all local authorities to give sufficient priority to the archaeological and cultural resources which we are discussing. Archaeological resources in England are at risk through attribution. We must all do our best to maintain funding on all sides in this area.

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My Lords, I refer your Lordships to my registered interests. We are discussing extremely important issues that go to the heart of our communities. I sincerely thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for not only securing this debate but also his brilliant opening submission. I reiterate that we are discussing the steps that the Government intend to take or are taking to protect and improve local arts and cultural services, including museums, libraries and archaeological services. As we have heard, such services are always under threat, especially when local authorities are faced with diminishing budgets, not least from central government and as already outlined by the noble Earl.

Local authorities face very real and difficult choices, for instance when funding the increasing demands for social care services, but I would argue that it must not be one or the other; it should be both. What is the quality of life if it is devoid and deprived of culture, arts, libraries, museums and archaeology—the very things that open our minds and give us reasons to learn and live? Yet this is exactly what some local authorities and funders are having to face: difficult choices, creating a concept of basic services that will be supported and others which will not. I do not accept that concept. Indeed, my own life and life chances were enhanced in my very poor, impoverished community in the East End of London in the late 1950s and 1960s precisely because schools and local authorities believed that lives would be improved by exposure to and familiarity with the arts. I want these chances and experiences to reach beyond my generation and to be accessed by all.

I wish to refer to evidence given by the actors’ union Equity and to concerns expressed among visitor organisations. Equity expressed concern to your Lordships’ Select Committee about cuts in public funding of the arts through Arts Council England and local authorities, as this impacts on theatres that no longer produce their own productions, with a subsequent loss to the local economy and talent pools. It called on the Secretary of State to provide leadership on this and give local authorities direction on how to tackle these difficult funding issues.

Smaller, local authority museums and civic collections are deeply concerned that they are at the mercy of local authority cuts. They say that the decisions by some local authorities to place their collections into independent trusts may work in some circumstances but not all, and that it requires ongoing investment. Finally, a case in point is Birmingham City Council, which placed the stunning Birmingham Museums and its galleries into a trust but will not commit to providing core funding beyond this year. There is a very good argument to make that such collections, along with others, should be re-designated as national collections—like Liverpool’s—and therefore that the DCMS and Arts Council England should become responsible for them. Will the Government adopt such a model nationally?

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My Lords, in the brief time allowed I will concentrate my remarks on the future sustainability of local and regional museums. The rapid reduction in local authority budgets has put huge pressure on museums and will inevitably weaken the sector further if we do not think more strategically about how we wish to support them.

I therefore welcome the various public consultations that the Government have initiated, in particular the DCMS’s museums review and the review of Arts Council England and its work. These take place against a backdrop of ever-expanding costs of statutory services, most notably in adult social care. Unsurprisingly, museums in less well-off areas suffer most. I wholeheartedly agree with the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy. We must do more to address these regional funding differences while expanding imaginative income-generating schemes—although these are rarely enough to cover lost funding. The oft-suggested introduction of entrance fees is not necessarily a solution either. Brighton & Hove Council and York Museums Trust both introduced charges in 2015; both have since experienced drops in visitor numbers of more than 50%. The looming question of leadership and “What next?” has never been more important. We need to strengthen management capabilities so that directors and curators can meet the challenges of today’s curatorial reality, where expectations have risen but funds have diminished.

My question to the Minister is: why do the Government in effect stand by when we can all see what is happening in the sector? The remarkable success and potential of non-national museums, as well as the public impact of partnerships with national museums, are now at risk due to the significant and swift decline in investment from local authorities. In the wider context of local and central government spending, the amount allocated to these museums is very small. Cutting it will have only a minimal impact of reducing spending, yet the value of what is lost will be considerably greater.

In the winter edition of the Art Fund’s Art Quarterly magazine, its chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Finsbury, stated that he hoped that public consultations would articulate the word “essential” when it comes to museums and galleries. He believes:

“We need to continue to assert the value and importance of museums to us and our communities”.

Yesterday’s formal exit from the EU has made the case only more relevant as we strive to make sense of that tension between nation and internationalism. So while there is inevitably a focus on funding at the moment, it is also vital to recognise how museums continue to play an important part in our public realm, be it in education, engaging in communities or attracting people to live in, work in and visit a place.

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My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Earl for securing this debate. I declare an unpaid interest as chair of a charity called Worcester Live, which is the main provider of the arts in the city. It runs the only theatre; the only concert hall; one of the largest festivals in the county; an outdoor Shakespeare in partnership with the city council; an indoor Shakespeare in partnership with Worcester Cathedral—last year we commemorated the 800th anniversary of the death of King John by staging Shakespeare’s play around his tomb in front of the altar; a ghost walk, which is a tourist attraction; a one-year part-time foundation course for young people wanting to get to theatre school; a number of youth theatres; and much more.

Worcester Live exists for three reasons. First, it receives generous core funding support from Worcester City Council, which, per head of population, probably contributes more to the arts than any other district council. Secondly, it has a small number of wonderful individual benefactors, trusts and patrons. Thirdly, its productions and events are well-supported by local residents.

However, Worcester Live gets not a penny from the Arts Council, and that means that its finances are constantly on a knife edge. In my view, a disproportionate amount of arts money goes to London, and a huge percentage of it goes to classical music in one form or another—orchestras, opera and ballet—and to flagship venues, a point made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy. I am far from convinced that the balance is entirely right, and I would like the Arts Council to recognise the value to local communities outside the south-east of popular non-elitist organisations such as the one that I am involved with.

I also want to mention another reason why local arts can be vibrant: the role of volunteers. There is in Worcester a splendid historical museum called Tudor House in the medieval heart of the city. It is because of the 60 or so volunteers that Tudor House is able to maintain free admission. At any one time there are about 30 of them working regularly as room stewards or in the coffee shop. Another group supports the education days, another group works as an operations committee and so on. Without volunteers, Tudor House and countless other local history museums would not exist, and they deserve better recognition from all of us. I hope the Minister will agree with me when he replies.

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My Lords, how timely that the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, should air this important subject just as we start the process of leaving the EU. When I, a born optimist, asked at Oral Questions on 7 March this year if the Government were concerned by the threat of closure facing many libraries and leisure centres, I was told that I was being pessimistic. Pessimistic? The Government were reminded by several noble Lords on 13 October 2016—and the Minister in today’s debate, I believe, answered—that several hundred libraries have closed since 2010.

While it is true that we all have to cut our cloth according to our means and that the internet has brought access to books and music much closer, nothing can replace the actual live experience: the object, a book, the sound of a bow hitting a string and the social cohesion factor of meeting and listening together or discussing literature in groups. I am sure the Minister will acknowledge that the publishing industry and the creative industries in general are part of the great economic success story of this country. But they need nourishing and investing in for our future prosperity and cultural excellence.

Many music clubs, festivals and orchestras up and down the country depend on visiting artists and chamber ensembles to enrich their programmes. How will Brexit affect them? Will British players be excluded from European orchestras, particularly European youth orchestras, where it will not be a matter of work permits but of actual acceptance into the group? Even for well-known soloists like the cellist Steven Isserlis, who has written to me on this subject and who gives many concerts in the EU, there is the worry of constant visa applications, which could be turned down if Brexit turns sour.

What about the colleges for whom the lost income from losing students, who might no longer be supported by the EU to come here, might well be a disaster? We have already heard of two orchestras that are decamping to warmer artistic climes. We need to act now to make sure this does not become an exodus and that we are not starved of cultural intercourse with our neighbours.

As I pointed out on 7 March, it is often rural, isolated communities who face bleak opportunities for education and entertainment, and I am sure the Minister would agree that the natural law of economics means that it is precisely those communities who are most likely to be hit hardest in times of economic drought.

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My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for securing this timely debate. I intend to focus my brief remarks on local museums, and I declare an interest as chair of the advisory board for the Modern Record Centre at the University of Warwick, a wonderful archive of trade union and industry history. I am also a supporter of the People’s History Museum in Manchester.

It is clear that times are bleak for a whole range of arts and cultural services, but in the current climate, it is local museums, those directly managed and funded by local authorities, that are the most vulnerable. Others have charted the recent decline in local authority investment in museums. Arts Council England acknowledges that councils understand that investment in cultural services shapes local identity, promotes tourism, stimulates creative industries, and creates happier and healthier communities. Age UK showed that creative activities such as visiting museums improve well-being in later life.

It is sadly inevitable that, given their shrinking budgets, local authorities see their non-statutory funding of museums as a low priority. The museums review announced in last year’s culture White Paper is due to be published this summer. I hope that its state of the nation report will enable us to understand how museums might need to keep changing to survive and thrive. But museums facing the sudden withdrawal of local authority support are sometimes forced to close before any alternatives are considered. In light of this, can the Minister assure us that the review will contain realistic recommendations to prevent closures and sell-offs? Will the review outline steps better to identify early warning signs, which would allow enough time to develop proposals to transfer museums into trusts or community management schemes, for example?

I read that museums are not meant to become monuments to themselves—they can and should relocate collections or develop new partnerships or new directions if that will attract new or more visitors. In my home town of Bradford, a new £1.8 million gallery opened last week in the newly renamed National Science and Media Museum. Tim Peake’s spacecraft will be on display there. New exhibits—and the new name—reflect the museum’s changing focus on the science behind the magic of photography, film and television. It aims to combat a recent history of falling visitor numbers and to keep the museum fresh and relevant in our fast-changing, high-speed world. This is wonderful stuff, not least for the people of Bradford, who are fortunate that the museum is part of the London-based Science Museum group, which receives about £40 million a year from DCMS.

This brings me to one final point: those of us who live in London—the museum capital of the world—know that we have unrivalled riches on our doorsteps. If we look beyond these to our wonderfully varied and quirky local museums, there is much to discover: other speakers have indicated their favourites. They all help to preserve, protect and promote our nation’s history. We use them or we lose them.

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I, too, thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for initiating this debate and I concur with the points made by him and other speakers. I should remind the Committee of my vice-presidency of the Local Government Association. I want to address two issues: first, regional cultural resources that have national and international importance; and secondly, the role of the private sector in supporting culture outside London.

We have heard a little bit about Manchester. I was there recently, visiting Mrs Gaskell’s house and the home of the Pankhursts. Both are wonderful to visit, but both have limited public opening times—three days a week and one-and-a-half days a week respectively. There might be perfectly good reasons for this that I am unaware of, and I pay a huge tribute to those running them for their achievement. It might simply be a lack of finance, but whatever the reason, will the Minister look at this issue to see if everything is being done that can be done to support longer public opening hours for such important international visitor destinations?

Right across the country, similar buildings that are major international resources can be underused and under-visited. In Newcastle, where I live, we have the Mining Institute, where the electric light was first demonstrated and which could become a major public destination in its own right. Does DCMS have a register of such key buildings across England that could be invested in? If there is not one, might one be created?

The Arts Council has a good record in starting to address the regional imbalance that we have heard about, but it needs to keep going. I noted in the recent culture White Paper that, while total DCMS grant in aid from 2009 to 2015 has declined in cash terms, non-public investment has doubled in that period. That is very good to see, but I suspect that corporate giving mostly benefits London, where so many company headquarters lie; yet corporate responsibility should be to invest in culture across the United Kingdom because profits might well derive from outside the immediate area of a company HQ. Will the Minister tell us what data the Government have on the extent of non-public investment for each part of England? Would it be possible to publish those data if they have them, or to secure them if they do not?

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My Lords, this has been a fantastic debate. I thank, as have others, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for his tireless efforts in the arts and cultural world, for his support of it and for his really excellent speech which I could not match—certainly not in three minutes. I am sure that the Minister will want to respond in detail to that, so I will not cover that ground. Instead, I want to use my short time to make two main points.

When the industrial strategy Green Paper was introduced, Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for BEIS, spoke of the importance of recognising the country’s strengths,

“from science to the creative industries”.

The Prime Minister is also on record as saying that special emphasis in the industrial strategy would be placed on helping sectors of the economy such as the creative industries. However, the specific challenges mentioned in the industrial strategy are energy, robotics, satellites and space, leading-edge healthcare, manufacturing and materials, biotechnology and quantum, and transformative digital technologies. It might be possible that the last one includes creative industries, but they are not mentioned. It is an awful gap, so can the Minister confirm that the interests of the DCMS will be represented in the final version of the industrial strategy? It is very important that we see it there and that it is part of the discussions.

Secondly, the Government need to think carefully about research in the creative industries if they are going to see a vibrant sector arrangement. As part of the Autumn Statement, a £4.7 billion announcement was made about an industrial strategy challenge fund. This will be cross-disciplinary and cover a broad range of technologies to be decided by an evidence-based process. As part of that process, a number of consultative workshops have happened and it is evident from those that there is a high level of interest from the cultural and creative industries in bidding for and obtaining money from the fund. We do not know, however, whether that will be possible.

An interesting aspect of our creative industries sector, which is enormous and does a fantastic job for our economy, is that it is largely made up of very small companies—micro-companies and very small SMEs—that rarely have the scale to engage in research. There is a research council—the Arts and Humanities Research Council—and it has a plan to create eight regional hubs, anchored in higher education institutions, that reach out to SMEs in the creative sector. This is a very good idea and I would be grateful if the Minister confirmed that the creative industries will get a fair share of this vital research funding.

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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords, and especially to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for securing this incredibly wide-ranging debate. My reply will probably only scratch the surface but I will try to answer as many points as I can. It is clear that this is a subject that noble Lords are very interested in and in which they have their individual specialities. It is a very daunting prospect to face this array of specialised interests—with, admittedly, some help. I will do my best.

The Committee has shown the breadth and depth of its interest in arts and culture. The presence or absence of beautiful buildings, galleries, museums, libraries and treasured archaeological sites has a huge impact on whether somewhere thrives and is a good place to live. These institutions help bind communities together and link current generations to those that came before; they console and inspire individuals. They are remarkably popular: 76% of adults in England engaged in the arts in 2015-16, and in the same period—surprisingly to me—53% of adults visited a museum or gallery.

The whole Government recognise that, and it is why there have been excellent recent funding settlements for DCMS sectors, even at times of economic difficulty. Central government’s main financial support for the arts, culture and museums is delivered via Arts Council England; it plans to invest £1.1 billion of public money in the period 2015-18. These sectors also benefit from public funding through the National Lottery. The Arts Council alone is to spend an estimated £700 million over the same period. Furthermore, the Heritage Lottery Fund spent £434 million in 2016-17; it supports museums and heritage projects, including public libraries. Archaeological-sector projects are supported by Historic England, and museums receive £400 million a year from the DCMS in grant aid. Let us not forget, also, that to assist the sector we have extended the museums and galleries tax relief to permanent exhibitions.

The Government are also investing in flagship projects such as Hull UK City of Culture 2017, which thereby raised over £1 billion of additional investment, and the Great Exhibition of the North in Newcastle and Gateshead in 2018. Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England have come together to create the Great Place scheme, which will spend £20 million on embedding arts, culture and heritage in local plans and decision-making.

However, the nature of the political system is that much responsibility for locally delivered services is devolved to local authorities. This principle has had the backing of all political parties. I recognise that local authorities have had challenging financial settlements over the past few years as we tackled a very large national deficit. That had to be done for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Nevertheless, many local authorities have acknowledged that not supporting arts and culture is both a serious failing and a false economy, and continue to invest in all those sectors.

One of the most effective ways for local authorities to develop and sustain arts and culture is through collaboration with other organisations. For example, Dig Greater Manchester, supported by the University of Salford and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, is giving thousands of Manchester residents the opportunity to take part in real excavations. Nearer to here, the Museum of London is receiving £180 million from the City of London Corporation and City Hall for its new premises, which will showcase the best of London’s history and archaeology, including brand new finds from Crossrail and other projects.

The merits of collaboration were recognised in the Government’s Culture White Paper, published last year. It announced a review of culture and digital technology, which is bringing together organisations such as Arts Council England, universities, the BBC, Culture24, and Connecting Cambridgeshire. The Government are therefore offering strategic support in a variety of ways. Together with the Local Government Association, we set up the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce. It published Libraries Deliver, an ambitious strategy containing a range of practical and innovative ideas for how local authorities can maintain and improve library services.

The noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, reminded us that last September the Government launched a museums review led by Neil Mendoza. It recently concluded a series of round tables exploring issues in the sector and is now considering its recommendations. The review is expected to be published in the summer. Of course matters such as opening times could well be included in that. The noble Baroness also mentioned the Bradford Media and Science Museum, which I was due to see last week but was prevented from doing so by the events of last week.

The noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Renfrew, talked about archaeology. As a result of the issues that they raised, we have asked Historic England to work with representatives from the local government archaeology and development sector to consider how best to respond to the reduction in the number of historic environment specialists employed by local government. This follows a report by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, and John Howell MP. This will involve developing professionally recognised standards and guidance, a review of local authority models for charging for archaeological services and research into the impact of heritage service changes in the south-west. It produced an update on progress in February 2017 on its proposed way forward, which it issued in October last year—I cannot go into all the detail now. In addition, Historic England is looking into training and skills retention and developing plans for heritage apprenticeships.

I wanted to say a few words about regional funding, which was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, and the noble Lords, Lord Shipley, Lord Freyberg and Lord Faulkner, among others. We agree that we want to disperse funding across the country, and Arts Council England continues to do that. It will rebalance funding between London and the regions over the next few years. In the past three years, 70% of the funding was invested outside London, and that will rise to 75% by 2018. National portfolio funding outside London continues to increase and will increase further in the 2018 portfolio. It will have increased by 4% between 2015 and 2018 and another 4% between 2018 and 2022.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, talked about Manchester. The Government have invested heavily in Manchester: £78 million in a new theatre and arts venue called The Factory. The South Asia gallery of the Manchester Museum received £5 million. As the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, said, there is a 4% uplift in national portfolio funding, but furthermore, the 70% of lottery funding outside London increased to 75% over the past three years and 80% to 90% of the Ambition for Excellence scheme to support talent is spent outside London. That is £35 million. The strategic touring fund of another £35 million funds touring of arts productions and focuses heavily on areas of low engagement.

The noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, specifically asked whether the museums review will help to show museums how to avoid closures and sell-offs and identify early warning signs. The review is looking specifically at the sustainability of local museums as a key line of inquiry and will make recommendations this summer. The noble Baroness also mentioned the reopening of the National Science and Media Museum, a national museum. That is another trend—that national museums are having more and more venues outside London.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked about culture and whether that is genuinely included in the industrial strategy. First, of course, the Secretary of State was a member of the committee that put that together. I can say to him that the cultural sector is included in the definition of “creative industries” that is mentioned in the Green Paper in an early sector review, the Bazalgette review. We are certainly looking forward to working with him and all interested colleagues in the coming weeks and months. The review is focused particularly on prosperity across all the creative industries, and we recognise that the cultural sector as part of those is contributing to UK prosperity through its many national and international commercial successes.

I must really speed up now. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and others made a very valid point about EU funding. Of course it is too early to say where we will do that, but I can say that we are extremely well aware of it. It is not only about the money; it is the partnership and the links with EU organisations that are important here. Of course we will have extra money when we are not a net contributor, but this is all part of the negotiation and we are very well aware of it, as we are cultural people in terms of free movement, which will be part of it. One of our jobs, and one that we are taking very seriously, is ensuring that the Department for Exiting the EU is aware of the concerns of the cultural sector. That is definitely a job that the DCMS has.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, mentioned the fact that half of museums do not have collection specialists and that many are no longer accepting archaeological archives from developers. The museums review is specifically looking at the issue of archaeological archives and storage, and will report in the summer.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby asked four questions, one of which I am going to answer; I am afraid the others on tax are pretty well outside my remit. The Government are keen for churches to contribute and play a full part in community life. In December 2016 we announced the English churches and cathedrals sustainability review. That is now in progress and exploring these issues. I might mention that on broadband, for example, the WiSpire initiative is one very good way in which they might contribute.

There were other questions but I apologise that I do not have time to answer them. If I may, I will write. I will conclude by saying that arts and culture are a huge part of what makes the villages, towns, cities and nations that comprise our United Kingdom so special. We want them to be available to everyone, to be cherished and protected and to have the strategic and financial support that they need. This is the central mission of the DCMS, and it is heartening to be reminded that this House shares our determination.

Sitting suspended.