Arts Policies – a review

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I finally managed to set aside some time yesterday and digest the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives Arts Policies (Labour haven’t released theirs yet)

The Liberal Democrats;

A nicely presented 15 page document, now the content is important but likewise, it’s nice to see an Arts Policy that actually is well presented aesthetically. It starts with a forward by Baroness Bonham-Carter, which quotes John Maynard Keynes and his 1946 vision for the arts, and their view that the arts are important.

We’re then taken to a informative introduction, it highlights that;

  • the UK has the largest cultural economy in the world relative to GDP”
  • “In five years time it is likely that the creative industries in the UK will be as important to our economy as the financial industries have been over the past fifteen years.”

I was pleased to see the acknowledgement of the importance of the Arts to tourism but also to diplomacy and them being used to strengthen diplomatic ties.

I was shocked to see that the current level of funding for the Arts Council is only 39p per week per household!! I think we can all agree that’s superb value for money, likewise, we’re not talking a huge amount of our taxes being used. The Lib Dems seem to realise that this is a good investment and that this current level is broadly accepted by members of the public (not just luvies like me!)

Their desire to increase private investment by building long term relationships and investments is to be welcomed.  As is their desire to continue the tax relief currently enjoyed by the UK film industry.

The arts are an essential part of a persons education and their policies on this are to be welcomed. Their desire to get trained drama and music teachers into schools can only be positive as “at present, just 56% of drama teachers possess a relevant post-graduate qualification”

All in all, it’s a very positive policy, whether they implement it, is obviously something time will tell and would depend on them getting into power, however having a party in the house with these views on the arts is useful especially as we seem to be heading for a hung Parliament.

The Conservatives;

You get a 2 page document that has clearly been rushed together – I looked back on the website to ensure I had downloaded all of it and it appears that yes, I have. Just these two pages, which just stop at the end of page 2. I think that says a HUGE amount on how they see the arts, or perhaps how many they think will read this policy?

What about what it says then;

Firstly it says that we’re “blessed” to have such a great amount of arts in this country, and then harps on about how before 1997 they established the Lottery and how that’d given so much to the Art’s, which indeed it has – but that’s not government money and so is fairly irrelevant.

They then have a go at Labour – I’m very anti in your manifestos/policies having pops at the other parties, I want to know what you think and firing cheap shots at other parties puts me off personally.

Next we here about their “approach”;

They mention the “arms length principle” – as we know this is something previously the Conservatives have not got right, so I’m wary of them talking about that.

My next concern is their mention of:

“the promotion of excellence in the arts” : Excellence is a VERY subjective word, and I don’t think the Government are able to designate what is excellent and what isn’t.

They do wish to remove “the myriad of targets”, this is to be commended. As is their desire to give every child in school the opportunity to learn a musical instrument.

However their policy makes no mention of, Art, Dance or Theatre, which seems odd for an Arts policy.

As I said, it appears to just stop, so maybe they’ve not got their website sorted. However it’s certainly lacking when compared to the Lib Dems.

I recommend you look at the policies yourselves, but for me, I’m happy and impressed with the Lib Dems. It’ll be interesting to see Labours as and when it’s produced.

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