Culture Commons Director, Trevor MacFarlane FRSA was invited to the northern launch of 'Labour Creatives' at ITV Studios this week. We outline what we learned about Labour's got planned for our sectors.
Following a characteristically authentic introduction on the the importance of "telling our own authentic stories" by Angela Rayner MP (Deputy Leader), Lucy Powell MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) took to the stage to talk through some of the commitments that Labour intend to make ahead of the next general election. Here are our takeaways...
"The contours of Labour's 'Creative Compact' are now coming into sharp focus. With a commitment to reinstating arts and culture in schools , getting touring talent back on the road and bringing the nations and regions together to collaborate - not compete - for funding, the contrast with the current regime couldn't be much clearer."
- Trevor MacFarlane FRSA, Director of Culture Commons
The devaluing of arts and cultural subjects in schools and higher education has been source of real distress to industry leaders and parents alike. The reinstatement of arts and culture into the school curriculum to ensure all children and young people enjoy a full creative and cultural life, regardless of their postcode, will be extremely welcomed. Here at Culture Commons, we'll keep exploring how tried and tested models like the Arts Backpack could bring a new curriculum including the expressive arts together with a meaningful extra-curricular entitlement.
Labour have set out an ambition to be the economic growth leader in the G7 by the end of a first term in office. As some of the fast growing parts of the UK economy employing some 2 million people, it was important that the creative industries were positioned at the heart of Labour's plan for growth last night. 'Creative Clusters' (places with high concentrations of creative and cultural sector businesses) were cited as a way growth might be stimulated. We draw attention to the paper we produced earlier this year on Creative Improvement Districts for the University of Manchester as an example of how social spill-overs can sit comfortably alongside economic objectives in such models.
Too many businesses in the creative and cultural sectors are unable to make use of the Apprenticeship Levy because of the way it is designed. Labour confirmed that they will create a new Growth and Skills Levy which will ensure money spent on training opportunities are flexible and work for creative and cultural organisations in the 21st century; this could help young people and people re-skilling get in - and get on - in our sectors where.
We know that touring is broken in the UK - the economics simply don't add up any more. Last night, Labour reiterated Keir Starmer's commitments earlier this year to renegotiate visas for artist and creatives to get touring back uon the road. This will come as a huge relief to many musicians and artists, both here and in the EU, who want to get back to work
The future of our Public Sector Broadcasters has been placed in doubt in recent years. Last night, Labour were unequivocal: the BBC and Channel 4 will remain in public hands and be given the resources they need not just to survive, but to thrive. As key anchor institutions in the regions and nations, this was particularly welcome by the independent film and television producers based on the north in the room who rely on the PSB ecosystem for much of their work.
The plethora of small and fragmented culture funds for local government means places are often pitted against one another; this leads to areas with existing creative and cultural infrastructure doing well, whilst those without fall further and further behind. Labour expressed a desire to see a more collaborative approach between regions and nations with the potential for a joined-up 'northern cultural corridor' working in tandem with Metro Mayors. Here at Culture Commons, we'll be feeding in our findings from our 'future of cultural devolution' open policy development programme, which will hopefully inform the policy thinking for all political parties in the coming 18 months and beyond.
In a digital age, with AI or other technologies on the horizon, Labour proposed a new rules framework that balances the interests of creators and artists and also enables innovation. Labour's 'New Deal for Working People' hopes to boost pay, make work more secure and improve worker wellbeing, including ensuring freelancers and self-employed workers, who make up a large proportion of the creative and cultural sectors, have the respect at work they need to thrive. This is very much in line with the work we've been doing here at Culture Commons to advocate for the creative workforce in recent years: we will continue to feed this work into Angela Rayners ongoing 'Future of Work' programme.
Culture was also cited as a key feature of Labour's future UK soft power strategy, which Lucy Powell and David Lammy (Shadow Foreign Secretary) are now working on together.