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“We cannot allow the divide between London’s artistic feast and artistic famine elsewhere” Shadow Culture Minister Tells Audience at Fazeley Studios

Feb 25, 2015 Created by: Kate Manion
Posted in: Events, Feature Posts, Studio News
Chris Bryant 2

Shadow culture Minister Chris Bryant MP visited Fazeley Studios today to give a speech outlining Labour’s priorities in arts and culture in front of key representatives of Birmingham’s artistic and creative sector.  The event was organised by the Creative Industries Federation, the national membership organisation for the public arts, cultural education and creative industries.

The main themes that Bryant touched upon included universal access to the arts for people of all backgrounds, the need to make art and creativity a bedrock of the education system in all schools, broadening access to career opportunities in the creative industries and ensuring a fairer division of investment in the creative and cultural sector across the UK.

“It is 50 years since Jennie Lee launched the revolutionary white paper ‘A Policy for the Arts’, which argued that the arts should be for all,” Bryant began. “I cannot stand before you today and promise the same doubling and trebling of budgets because we live in a different world at the moment.”

However, he went on to promise that Labour would offer the creative industries “a time of love in a cold climate”, pledging the party’s commitment to strengthen the role of the arts in education, increase apprenticeships in the cultural and creative industries, end zero hour contracts and ensure that organisations pay a living wage in the arts.

Bryant confirmed that Labour would maintain the policy of the last Labour Government of free admission to national museums and galleries, which saw total visitor numbers double and the number of ethnic minority visitors treble in the first 10 years.

Referring to the local government cuts which have disproportionately hit certain parts of the country and had a devastating impact on the arts and culture in some regions, he also pledged a fairer and more transparent spread of investment, so that economic recovery is felt across the UK and not just in the capital.

“We cannot allow the continued divide between London’s artistic feast and artistic famine elsewhere,” Bryant told the room. He highlighted the fact that DCMS and Arts Council funding is currently around £68 per head in the capital, but averages around £4.58 per head in the rest of the country.

Whilst acknowledging that the creative industries are competing for increasingly tight budget pots, he emphasised that they are seen by Labour as an essential contributor to economic recovery, not a detractor from it.

“Creativity is the long term powerhouse for the UK economy,” he said. “We have a world beating mixed ecology within the creative sector, which accounts for 1 in 12 jobs across the UK, yet there were only 1,000 apprenticeship starts last year. We pledge to work with companies to increase apprenticeships, so that careers in the arts and creative industries are accessible to talent from all backgrounds, not just those who can afford to take on unpaid placements because they can rely on support from wealthy families.”

Bryant also discussed issues of diversity, particularly within film and television, stating that Ofcom should monitor diversity both on and off screen. “Top multinational corporations have recognised the value of diversity and the arts must too” he said.

Fazeley Studios is a hub for digital companies at the heart of Birmingham’s creative quarter Digbeth. Part of the Custard Factory quarter, it is home to 44 creative and digital businesses including One Black Bear, Shadow Giants, Tomorrow People, Rice Media, Media Dog, Tinker Taylor TV, Into Film, Maverick Television and the BBC’s new digital innovation unit.

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