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Vaizey vows to make cultural education a priority

Culture minister Ed Vaizey. Photo: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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The Conservative Party has pledged to support cultural education and arts training if it wins the general election in May, with culture minister Ed Vaizey claiming they are among his top priorities.

Vaizey was speaking to The Stage following new figures released last week showing the creative industries as a whole to be worth £76.9 billion a year to the UK economy.

“We can’t promise that things will be easy given the level of cuts implemented across government, but we want to ensure that we can continue to support people training, and continue to support
cultural education in schools,” Vaizey told The Stage.

He went on to praise the creative industries as a whole and added that the sector’s growth “really enforces the point that the creative industries need to be taken seriously”.

Despite warnings that severe arts cuts may continue in the coming years, Vaizey claimed that the government’s commitment to the arts was evident in initiatives such as tax credits, which came into force for theatre last year.

“Tough times have made people think more creatively about how they finance themselves. People think [theatre tax relief] is a secret plan to wean us off arts support, but it’s nothing of the sort. It allows people to think creatively… I think in terms of philanthropy, people understand again that it’s not simply about trying to plug a funding gap, it’s also about engaging with the audience in different ways,” he said.

Vaizey also responded to recent claims made by shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman, who said that a continued Conservative government would be “disastrous” for the arts in this country.

“I think it’s a ludicrous point,” he said, adding: “They always try to say one thing to an arts audience and another to a different audience. I know we’ll be judged on our record, but I think people who take a sophisticated view about what’s gone on in the past five years will recognise that we are a group of people who are keen to do the very best we can for the arts in this country in very difficult economic circumstances.”

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