Election Manifestos

April 15, 2015

As each party manifesto sets out a vision for the next five years we look at what is in and what is missing for creative industries, the arts and education.

All parties have now published their manifestos. All, apart from UKIP, contain warm words about the importance of creative industries, arts and culture, both socially and economically, though most do not explicitly make creative industries central to their industrial innovation agenda. And though the “A” for arts is missing from policies whose stated aim is to encourage STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths - rather than “STEAM” in schools, universities and industry, there are references in most manifestos to the importance of cultural education.

Arts and Culture and Creative Industries linked closely in most Manifestos

 * The Green Party is the only national party to promise additional public arts investment - £500m for the arts and reinstatement of “proper level of funding for local authorities, helping to keep local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open.” They would reduce VAT to 5% for live performances. 

* Plaid Cymru also promises increased funding to community arts organisations in Wales to encourage wide participation in the arts “across all walks of life “. At the other end of the scale, UKIP is the only party to commit to abolishing DCMS and replacing it with “a dedicated Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, attached to the Cabinet Office”. 

* Labour promises to work with public bodies to rebalance arts funding across the country. Conservatives state that they are already achieving this. Greens also specifically talk about making arts funding decisions local rather than national.

Free access to national museums and galleries, a policy introduced under Labour while Chris Smith was Culture Secretary, is set to continue. Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru make this a specific commitment. The Greens and UKIP say nothing against the policy.

All parties who mention creative industries support more investment in training and apprenticeships for the sector. All support an independent BBC and a free, properly regulated press.

* Under a heading “Enabling you to enjoy our heritage, creativity and sports”, Conservatives say they “understand these things do not just enhance our national prestige and boost our economy; they help tie our country together, strengthening the bonds between all of us.” That’s why “we have put over £8 billion of public and Lottery funding into the arts, heritage, museums and galleries during the last five years.“ They promise investment in big projects such as a state of the art concert hall for London and a Great Exhibition in the North. They highlight tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras introduced over the past 5 years. “We will continue these reliefs, with a tax credit for children’s television next year, and expand them when possible.” They also promise to protect IP “by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content”.  And “we will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites.” 

* Of the larger national parties Labour comes closest in their manifesto to articulating a plan to place the arts, culture and creative industries together “at the heart of our government” with their proposal to “ create a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, with a membership drawn from all sectors and regions. The Committee will bring issues of concern direct to the attention of the Prime Minister.” They also “guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education” and Ofsted will not be able to rate a school as “excellent” without this. Institutions that receive arts funding will be required to open up their doors to young people.

* The Liberal Democrats are the only national party to include a specific mention of creative industries in their industrial strategy as one of the sectors “critical to Britain’s ability to trade internationally”.  Their manifesto also explicitly links “arts, creative industries and culture” together under a heading “pride in creativity” as being “crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life”. 

“The UK’s creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years, and a critical driver of our recovery. We are proud of the arts in Britain and will support them properly, working to deliver access for all, regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, age, belief, sexuality or disability.”

The Liberal Democrats also advocate an evidence-based ‘social prescribing’ of arts and sporting activity to combat mental health problems and obesity, linking the arts with health and wellbeing.

Parties representing smaller UK nations generally understand the power of having a strong cultural policy as a key part of reinforcing their national identity.

* In addition to Plaid Cymru’s specific commitments to arts funding they: “will work with local authorities and arts organisations to ensure a minimum level of provision of arts activity for young people in every local authority area.” Plaid Cymru wants “not only a thriving arts and culture sector, but excellent broadcasting services and innovative creative industries”. They call specifically for responsibility for broadcasting to be devolved, to “safeguard” S4C, and they “will continue to maximise the social, cultural and economic benefits of a vibrant film and creative-industries sector in Wales as one of our designated key sectors for growth.”

* The SNP also want broadcasting devolved and would seek increased investment through BBC Scotland so that “a fairer share of the licence fee is spent in Scotland, giving a £100 million boost to our creative sector.” “The Scottish Government and Parliament should have a substantial role at all stages in the review of the BBC Charter and we will work to ensure that any new governance arrangements for the BBC better reflect Scotland’s interests.” The SNP would also support the creation of a “Creative Content Fund” for the Scottish games industry to encourage the formation of new studios and also back the retention of the Video Games tax relief.

* UKIP takes a different approach. They are silent about the arts or creative industries and have a section headed “British Culture” where they talk about shared “British” cultural values which bind people together, stating that “multiculturalism has led to an alarming fragmentation of British society”. They promise to review funding of public bodies “which promote divisiveness through multiculturalism”. 


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