Westminster Election – Parties’ commitments to the arts

Westminster Election – Commitments to the arts

The Westminster Election is almost upon us; only a couple of days away and while there has been very little mention of the arts and creative industries in the television debates, there are manifesto commitments to the arts from major parties which suggest that the outcome of the election will have a significant impact on the arts sector locally.

The key documents from the two major parties, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, can be found at the links below if you wish to see what policies might be implemented in the event of an election victory.

LABOUR PARTY

2019 Arts Manifesto (pdf)

Key Points include

  • Invest £1 billion in cultural infrastructure to upgrade and build new arts venues, galleries, museums and libraries across the UK.
  • Introduction of a £175 million a year arts pupil premium to “give every primary school student in the country” access to the arts.
  • The launch of a new ‘Town of Culture’ competition to aid small towns increase their cultural offer
  • To invest £1 billion in youth services including arts provision
  • To maintain free access to national museums and galleries
  • To introduce greater transparency in lottery funding and ensure grants are shared out fairly between all communities.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

Conservative 2019-20 Manifesto (pdf)

Key Points include

  • Arts premium to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils – no figure available
  • Business rate relief for music venues and cinemas
  • £250 million to support local libraries and museums
  • Maintaining support for creative sector tax relief

Community Arts Partnership has read through each local manifesto and we found that our local parties have nothing at all about the sector in their manifestos. We contacted each party by email and by phone,  and only the SDLP and the Alliance Party sent information to us. Both parties referred us to their assembly Manifestos from 2017. When we were able to speak to party representatives we were told that because the arts is a devolved matter their view was that should be handled by local politicians through the Assembly. Mostly we have been referred either to the press office to leave a message or to the last Assembly election manifesto and no-one we have spoken to has been prepared to comment on the policy commitments of the Labour or Conservative Party.

Obviously we think the Arts sector, the Creative Industries and the area of Community Arts, in particular, deserve mention during an election period. Given that this election, outside of the Brexit dialogue, has concentrated on just how difficult people’s lives are after a decade of Austerity, it would be reasonable to assume that our sector should be part of that general conversation.

Not least because the Arts offers the potential to make sense of the present chaotic political period, but also offers vastly more with regards its contribution in social and economic terms; for every pound invested there is a substantial rate of return, let alone that the sector is responsible for thousands of jobs.

Conor Shields, CAP’s Chief Executive wrote in his CAPtain’s Blog a little while ago, outlining the precarious position of the arts in Northern Ireland,

“No one gets less than the citizens of Northern Ireland for their arts and creative support. No children get less opportunity to exercise their right to participate in the cultural life of their community than our children here. No working age adult receives less return on their taxation in terms of the resourcing of culture and creativity. And if you happen to be poor (and of course, we are neck and neck with the poorest regions of Scotland and Wales) you and your children and their grandparents have less chance again.

And we do have by far, the highest level of elderly people in need in the UK– a statistic that is rising. Nearly 10% of elderly people in Northern Ireland are living in absolute poverty, another 10 % in relative poverty. By 2030 more than a quarter of the population will be aged over 60. But 1 in 4 children are living in absolute poverty right now.

We deserve at least parity of funding compared with our neighbouring nations. I estimated at the last election (2016 at time of writing) that to reach average per capita spend across these islands, that we would need an additional £40m annually spent here.

In 2008, I recall the Arts Council asked government for a modest £26m…next year (2017/18) it looks like they will have less than £9m to support the core of the sector, with much the same in reducing National Lottery funds. In total, (Revenue plus Lottery) that is 0.05% of GDP and 0.02% of all public expenditure here, i.e. for very pound spent in the arts, our civil service spends £5000 elsewhere.”

And that was written before additional cuts and the RHI scandal took hundreds of millions out of the general budget allocation.

If the arts sector and the creative industries are part of your thinking when you make your decision to cast your vote you can use this quick reference guide to the political parties’ support, or otherwise, for the arts.

As always CAP says #votecreativity

ALLIANCE

Alliance Manifesto 2017, under ‘Communities, Arts and Sport’ (p.64-65).

The government has a role in promoting culture and the arts. This allows us to develop creativity amongst our society. There is also a wide body of evidence that investment in arts and leisure has significant benefits for individual wellbeing and for our economy.

Alliance supports investment in arts and leisure at all levels. In order to make sure this investment is sustainable under current funding pressures, we will:

  • Commit to raising arts spending to at least the average spend on arts in these islands per capita, and review how to ensure that this spending effective.
  • Establish an Arts Funding Review to examine if this funding can directed in a more sustainable manner. Specifically, we would ask it to examine the historic underfunding of the arts compared to other nations in these islands. We would also ask the review to examine more sustainable funding arrangements such as; three-year budgeting, endowments and improving business models within arts and cultural organisations in key areas such as financial management, fundraising, marketing and audience development.
  • Adopt a specific strategy to improve access to the arts by sections of the community who have lower-than-average uptake rates.
  • Develop a formal protocol to ensure that sectarianism, racism or any other form of prejudice does not occur at artistic and cultural events funded by public money.
  • Establish an integrated strategy for cultural tourism. This strategy must provide a full appreciation of the unique cultural heritage we have to offer, and how these can be developed, managed and projected to a wider audience.
  • Ensure that Northern Ireland’s art and culture is promoted globally. Countries such as the Republic of Ireland and Scotland have successfully used increased global visibility of their arts and cultural output as part of a wider package to raise their international profile.

Our Policies, under ‘Culture, Arts and Leisure’

The Alliance Party appreciates the importance of culture, arts, sport and leisure to a healthy and vibrant civil society. There are also considerable economic and social benefits to society as a whole.

Alliance is also particularly aware of the ability of culture, the arts and language to make a positive contribution to a shared future. Alliance supports the appreciation and expression of our rich and varied cultural identities. We believe that cultural participation and self-expression should be developed in the context of respect and understanding of our own and each other’s heritage.

Shared space need not be neutral space; it is not about pursuing some sense of sanitised territory that denies the ability of people to celebrate their culture. Alliance will create a vibrant culture in Northern Ireland by:

  • Providing adequate and long-term funding for the arts, including better use of lottery funding.
  • Promote Northern Ireland’s culture abroad to help develop our tourism industry.
  • Introduce a comprehensive language strategy which will support both languages in Northern Ireland, as well as other commonly used languages and sign language too.
  • Create a coherent museums policy to support Northern Ireland’s museums.
  • Investing in sports and sports infrastructure to promote a more active society and to use sport to build a shared future. This includes supporting a shared stadium for GAA, football and rugby.

Alliance Manifesto 2016, under ‘Communities, Arts and Sport’ (p.6)

Culture and the arts have been consistently underfunded in Northern Ireland even though they have been proven to promote reconciliation, improve quality of life and support the economy.
We will raise arts spending to at least the average spend on arts in these islands per capita.

Alliance Manifesto 2016, under ‘Communities, Arts and Sport’ (p.66)

The government has a role in promoting culture and the arts. This allows us to develop creativity amongst our society. There is also a wide body of evidence that investment in arts and leisure has significant benefits for individual wellbeing and for our economy.

Alliance supports investment in arts and leisure at all levels. In order to make sure this investment is sustainable under current funding pressures, we will:

  • Commit to the raising arts spending to at least the average spend on arts in these islands per capita, and review how to make this spending effective.
  • Establish an Arts Funding Review to examine if this funding can directed in a more sustainable manner. Specifically, we would ask it to examine the historic underfunding of the arts compared to other nations in these islands. We would also ask the review to examine more sustainable funding arrangements such as; three-year budgeting, endowments and improving business models within arts and cultural organisations in key areas such as financial management, fundraising, marketing and audience development.
  • Adopt a specific strategy to improve access to the arts by sections of the community who have lower-than-average uptake rates.
  • Develop a formal protocol to ensure that sectarianism, racism or any other form of prejudice does not occur at artistic and cultural events funded by public money.
  • Establish an integrated strategy for cultural tourism. This strategy must provide a full appreciation of the unique cultural heritage we have to offer, and how these can be developed, managed and projected to a wider audience.
  • Ensure that Northern Ireland’s art and culture is promoted globally. Countries such as the Republic of Ireland and Scotland have successfully used increased global visibility of their arts and cultural output as part of a wider package to raise their international profile.

DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY

No mention of the arts in DUP Manifesto 2017 ‘Our Plan for Northern Ireland’.

DUP Manifesto 2016 ‘Our Plan for Northern Ireland’, under ‘A lasting legacy’ (p.31)

The DUP wants a lasting legacy to the centenary celebrations. It will support public art and environmental projects such as a centenary wood and a centenary greenway.

GREEN PARTY

Green Party Manifesto 2017, under ‘A green strategy for people’ (p.14)

Just like in 2016, theatres and other arts organisations are still struggling under the funding cuts, which still undermine jobs and arts programming.

There need to be better connections between investment in the arts and the contribution that it makes to the economy through job creation and leisure.

Communities thrive on their historic cultural links. These should not be eroded by a focus on profiteering and vanity projects.

The Green Party will:

  • Develop ‘art contract clauses’ similar to ‘community benefit clauses’ for multi-million pound film and screen projects in Northern Ireland, to ensure that money finds its way to the grassroots arts scene.
  • Support core investment in the arts at both local and Executive-level in order to further realise the value and potential of the arts in Northern Ireland
  • Bring forward an Irish Language Act

Green Party Manifesto 2016, under ‘A zero waste strategy for people’ (p.10)

Unprecedented cuts to theatres and other arts organisations came as a shock to many, undermining jobs and arts programming.

Ironically, this comes at a time when Northern Ireland is being used for multi-million pound films and TV series.

There needs to be a better connection between investment in the arts and the contribution it makes to the economy through job creation and leisure.

The Green Party will:

  • Develop ‘art contract clauses’ similar to ‘community benefit clauses’ for multi-million pound film and screen projects in Northern Ireland
  • Support core investment for the arts at local and Executive level to further realise the value and positive impact of the arts

NI CONSERVATIVES

Conservatives ‘Time for a Real Fresh Start’ Manifesto 2017, under ‘Social development, culture, arts and leisure’ (p.9)

We want to combat a benefits culture which is unfair to hard-working people and perpetuates poverty. We support the principle that it should never pay more to remain on benefits than to work.

We believe that sport and culture play a vital role in a happy society. We want to see a multitude of cultures in this part of the United Kingdom encouraged and enjoyed in an atmosphere of tolerance, generosity and respect.

Where we stand’ section of the website, under ‘Social development, culture, arts and leisure’.

Under a period of austerity funds must be prioritised for health and education, but we would not support a strategy which abandons the modern artists in Northern Ireland.

Conservatives ‘Time for a Real Fresh Start’ Manifesto 2016, under ‘Social development, culture, arts and leisure’ (p.9)

We want to combat a benefits culture which is unfair to hard-working people and perpetuates poverty. We support the principle that it should never pay more to remain on benefits than to work.

We believe that sport and culture play a vital role in a happy society. We want to see a multitude of cultures in this part of the United Kingdom encouraged and enjoyed in an atmosphere of tolerance, generosity and respect.

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT

People before profit Manifesto 2017, under ‘End Selective and Segregated Education’ (p.16)

People Before Profit also support the “free school day” which school pupils themselves suggested, where children do not have to bring any money to school, no “voluntary contributions”, no money for any school expenses whether that’s books and materials, art or music or school trips.

People before profit Manifesto 2017, under ‘Policy on Young People’ (p.25)

Why aren’t we nurturing the abundant artistic talents of young people in every estate in every town and city? There should be resident artists in every community centre and youth facility. As in the case of sports, it would cost less in the long term than seeing culture and art as irrelevant to the youth of working class areas. Given the chance, our young people through arts will challenge the consensus of the local establishment and produce beauty to enhance all our futures. Cuts to the arts sector has had a negative effect on vulnerable young people whose access to arts services has been slashed.

PROGRESSIVE UNIONIST PARTY

Policies on Education

Introduction of post primary collegiates: Each would include 5 to 15 schools that would work together to make a wider range of courses available.

  • Each Collegiate would enable pupils to experience different types of courses. Within the Collegiate children could take courses in, or transfer to, other schools.
  • Schools would provide the statutory curriculum but there would be more flexibility to choose different courses and to develop specialism’s like sport, new technology or performing arts.

Progressive Unionist Party Manifesto 2016, under ‘Education’ (p.3)

Introduction of post primary collegiates: Each would include 5 to 15 schools that would work together to make a wider range of courses available.

  • Each Collegiate would enable pupils to experience different types of courses. Within the Collegiate children could take courses in, or transfer to, other schools.
  • Schools would provide the statutory curriculum but there would be more flexibility to choose different courses and to develop specialism’s like sport, new technology or performing arts.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC AND LABOUR PARTY

SDLP ‘Make change happen’ manifesto 2017, under ‘Supporting our communities’

The SDLP is committed to supporting community arts and the development of our artistic talents as economic drivers. To ensure that this important aspect of our society is kept on the agenda, the SDLP will form a Cultural Advisory Group to the Minister and introduce the long awaited Culture and Arts Strategy.

The SDLP is fully supportive of Derry City and Strabane Council and Belfast City Council’s joint bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

SDLP ‘Build a better future’ manifesto 2016, under ‘Bringing People Together’ (p.20)

We have made progress bringing people together in the workplace, particularly in the public sector, where people from all backgrounds leave any political baggage they have at the door and work together to serve the whole community. It did however take leadership and strong legislation to achieve this.

We now need to take a similar approach to housing, shared public spaces and education and to a greater cross-community approach to culture, arts and leisure.

SDLP ‘Build a better future’ manifesto 2016, under ‘from steM to steaM’ (p.31)

To succeed in this, we need to move from a focus purely on STEM subjects to a wider focus on STEAM subjects.

That means a recognition and understanding that Arts subjects provide many vital skills for children and young people.

As well as ensuring that STEM subjects are on the curriculum from primary school, the SDLP will ensure that arts subjects play a vital role in curriculum design and that STEAM subjects run through all parts of our education system.

SDLP ‘Build a better future’ manifesto 2016, under ‘Culture, Arts and Leisure’ (p.44-45)

The SDLP recognises the hugely important role of the Culture, Arts and Leisure sector in Northern Ireland.

Year on year, culture and arts are hit with budget cuts and in the last mandate, the Culture Minister failed to pass any legislation to help the sector.

Ireland has a rich creative, linguistic and artistic heritage and many Northern Irish poets, authors, musicians and artists are world renowned. The SDLP is committed to continued support for community arts and for the development of our artistic talents into economic drivers.

The Department of Communities will have responsibility for Culture and Arts in Northern Ireland.

To ensure that this important aspect of our society is kept on the agenda, the SDLP will:

  • Form a Cultural Advisory Group to the Minister.
  • Create and introduce a new Culture and Arts Strategy.

As proud supporters of the arts the SDLP wishes to build on the economic success of our creative industries. The talent of our artists has led many large international companies to base projects in Northern Ireland.

We must build on this potential. As every £1 invested by the Arts generates a return of over £3.60 to the local economy we must better nurture business entrepreneurship within our arts community so to develop a sustainable indigenous creative industry in Northern Ireland, which is boosted by and not dependent on, international investment.

SINN FÉIN

No mention to the arts in their Manifesto 2017.

SF Manifesto 2016, under ‘Job creation’

  • We will increase funding to the Arts Council by 45% over the lifetime of the next government and ensure all grants and awards are made fairly and transparently. We will ensure through this funding, and through investment in community development programmes, that the arts play a key role in creating employment and recreation in communities, particularly in rural Ireland.
  • We will support better pay for musicians, writers, visual artists, actors and those involved in set productions through engagement with the Irish Writers Union, the Musicians Union of Ireland, Equity, the Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild and all other relevant bodies.
  • We will support artists, as the essential component of the arts world, in their lobbying for a better return from publishing and distribution companies, to make the arts a viable employment option.
  • We will maintain film relief as a way of supporting the Irish film industry.
  • We will maintain the 9% VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sector.

TRADITIONAL UNIONIST VOICE

TUV Manifesto 2017, under ‘Town centre regeneration’ (p.22)

The decline in town centres across Northern Ireland deeply concerns TUV. Once bustling high streets and their remaining businesses are now struggling to survive. Crippling rates have been a major contributor to decline. Aesthetically pleasing artwork on empty shop fronts may bring cosmetic change, but are no substitute for kick-starting economic revival in our town centres.

TUV Manifesto 2017, under ‘Education’ (p.29)

TUV recognises the important contribution which libraries make to communities. We want to see well-resourced library provision. It is important that everyone – particularly children and the elderly – have access to the print and electronic resources which libraries offer. It is important that local libraries are protected from closure.

TUV Manifesto 2016, under ‘Education’ (p.25)

TUV recognises the important contribution which libraries make to communities. We want to see well-resourced library provision. It is important that everyone – particularly children and the elderly – have access to the print and electronic resources which libraries offer. It is important that local libraries are protected from closure.

ULSTER UNIONIST PARTY

UUP 2017 ‘A manifesto for real partnership’, under ‘Time to vote for change’ (p.3)

We excel at so much: actors, artists, musicians; inventors, industrialists, sports men and women; the list of high achievers who have helped us “box above our weight” is endless.

UUP 2017 ‘A manifesto for real partnership’, under ‘Giving our children every chance of success’ (p.19)

We would work with employers in the private and public sector including arts and community groups to ensure that we have a rich future here in Northern Ireland.

UUP 2017 ‘A manifesto for real partnership’, under ‘The Arts’ (p.31)

Challenge the arts sector, creative industries, our universities, FE colleges, and business to co-design a 10-year strategy for excellence to future-proof our place as competitors on the world stage.

Policy papers, under the ‘What we would do’ section in ‘The Arts’

  • Include the Arts in the next Programme for Government, outlining the Executive’s acknowledgement of the importance of the arts and demonstrating a commitment to them.
  • Establish a working group between the Departments of Communities, Education, Health and the Economy to develop and agree cross-cutting priorities for the arts for the next 10 years.
  • Work with our eleven Local Government administrations to ensure cohesion in planning targets and outcomes.
  • Provide a longer term allocation of funding – with agreed aims and outcomes giving the sector a clearer picture of what they have to work with. This can bring a greater level of stability back to the sector and allow for lasting benefits from projects.
  • Empower our teachers to recognise and nurture the creative potential of our children.
  • Develop a 10-year strategy for excellence, challenging the arts sector, the creative industries, our universities, FE colleges and business to co-design a strategy to future-proof our place as competitors on the world stage.
  • Work with our universities and FE colleges to explore opportunities for partnerships that can both help increase the capacity of our smaller arts organisations, and in turn give practical experience to students.
  • Promote apprenticeships using the ‘Unlocking Creativity’ programme as a model to release individual creativity and ensure young people are prepared for careers in creative industries.
  • In the arena of competitive funding, favourable support will be presumed for projects which demonstrably enhance the overall cultural health of an area.
  • Work with NI Screen to develop a 10-year film strategy to increase production output.

UUP 2016 ‘#MakeItWork’ Manifesto, under ‘The Arts’ (p.9)
Challenge the arts sector, creative industries, our universities, FE colleges, and business to co-design a 10-year strategy for excellence to future-proof our place as competitors on the world stage.

UUP 2016 ‘#MakeItWork’ Manifesto, under ‘The Arts’ (p.30)

The Ulster Unionist Party think the Arts matter. We cannot think of a civilisation in the history of mankind that has flourished without cherishing artistic endeavour. We do not wish to live in a society that is purely functional. We understand how art and creativity enhances lives. We want our artistic superstars recognised on a par with their sporting equals.

We understand and support the drive by our universities to promote links with the business sector. The success of spin-off companies is a cause for celebration and a core driver of economic growth. But we also want our seats of learning to be concerned that the search for the next Frank Pantridge is matched by an equally enthusiastic pursuit for the next Seamus Heaney, the next Allen McClay paired with the next F E McWilliam, the next Harry Ferguson with the next Brian Friel. Artistic excellence must be a goal in its own right if we are to do justice to our esteemed international reputation.

Of course, art for art’s sake has the added bonus of adding value to the economy and generating social capital. Our commitment to the arts is to ensure our artistic practitioners of international renown and our grass roots movement who simply enjoy participation are cherished, celebrated and supported.

We would

  • Lobby for the inclusion the arts in the next Programme for Government, outlining the Executive’s acknowledgment of the importance of the arts and demonstrating a commitment to them;
  • Establish a working group between the Departments of Communities, Education, Health and the Economy to develop and agree cross-cutting priorities for the arts for the next 10 years;
  • Work with our eleven Local Government administrations to ensure cohesion in planning targets and outcomes;
  • Empower our teachers to recognise and nurture the creative potential of our children;
  • Develop a 10-year strategy for excellence, challenging the arts sector, creative industries, our universities, FE colleges and business to co-design a strategy to future- proof our place as competitors on the world stage
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