Jeremy Corbyn pledges to reverse £40m in arts cuts
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to reverse more than £40 million of arts cuts, in a newly announced arts policy.
The policy, unveiled by the Labour leader in Edinburgh, also promises to introduce a ‘pupil premium’ for the arts and tackle low pay in the sector.
His pledges also include a bursary scheme to help people from low-income families access specialist training.
Introducing his policy, Corbyn criticised “years of systemic under-funding” for the arts at the hands of the Conservative government, which he claimed had implemented a “failed austerity agenda”.
“It is vital that government supports the enrichment that creativity brings to each of us individually and collectively, and the enrichment that creative industries continue to bring to our economy,” he said.
Corbyn’s policy claims that during the course of the next parliament, a Labour government under his leadership would aim to increase the proportion of GDP the British government spends on the arts to match the European average of 0.5%.
The UK spends 0.3% of its total GDP on arts and culture.
At an event in Edinburgh, Corbyn announced that a Labour government would restore £42.8 million of cuts made to Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the Arts Council of Wales since 2010, to “place arts funding back on a secure financial footing”.
This would be achieved by reversing planned cuts to Capital Gains Tax, announced by the government in March. In total, this would free up £670 million by the end of the current government, and Corbyn said the money would also help introduce new measures including one to boost arts education in schools.
Corbyn said Labour would introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England and Wales, falling inline with the existing pupil premium for PE. The £160 million scheme would give schools the chance to invest in projects that will support cultural activities for a long-term period.
Corbyn said an equivalent payment of at least £13 million would be given to Scotland.
A Labour government under Corbyn would also introduce a nationally administered bursary and scholarship scheme for the arts, aimed at ensuring students from low-income backgrounds can access specialist training.
Corbyn said low pay in the arts would also be tackled, with the Labour leader pledging to work with trade unions and employers within the sector to enforce a more transparent national policy and guidelines on minimum standards of pay.
He said cuts in funding to the arts and to broadcasting had fostered an environment that proliferates “appalling levels of low pay” and “exploitative working conditions”.
He announced the policy as he continues a campaign to retain the Labour leadership.