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Election 2017: Labour promises £1bn windfall for the arts

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Twocoms/Shutterstock Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Twocoms/Shutterstock
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Labour has promised to provide a £1 billion culture fund and to end cuts to local authority budget funding if it wins the general election next month.

In the party’s election manifesto, published on May 16, Labour said it would introduce a cultural capital fund, totalling £1 billion, to “upgrade our existing cultural and creative infrastructure to be ready for the digital age”.

The fund would also invest in creative clusters across the country, designed to boost economic growth through culture.

It would be administered through Arts Council England over a period of five years, and is described by Labour as “among the biggest arts infrastructure funds ever”.

Labour has also promised to end local authority budget cuts, which have resulted in widespread cuts to the arts nationwide.

Stopping this has been identified by leading cultural bodies as a key area for the sector to lobby the new government.

The manifesto also includes the introduction of a £160 million pupil premium for the arts, which would allow schools to invest in creative projects.

The idea was first mooted by party leader Jeremy Corbyn last year, and comes alongside manifesto promises to “put creativity back at the heart of the curriculum” and review the English Baccalaureate.

Pledges include strengthening the pipeline of creative talent, with measures such as a creative careers advice campaign in schools to demonstrate the range of opportunities available and the skills required “from the tech sector to theatre production”.

Labour also identifies low pay no pay as a barrier to entering careers in the performing arts, with its manifesto promising to work with trade unions and employers to agree sector-specific guidelines on pay and employment standards.

“We will improve diversity on and off screen, working with the film industry and public service and commercial broadcasters to find rapid solutions to improve diversity,” it added.

Labour’s manifesto also suggests extending the business rates relief scheme for pubs to small venues, in a bid to protect them, as well as implementing the agent of change principle across the country – a measure already pledged for London by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Responding to Labour’s manifesto, the Creative Industries Federation said it welcomed the fact that Labour had adopted some of its priorities including nurturing the creative economy, improving creativity’s place in the curriculum, support for small venues and a careers campaign.

“There are some major issues not yet addressed. We urge more detail on crucial issues including a new visa system that recognises the needs of world-leading sectors such as the creative industries and on Labour’s plans for Brexit negotiations regarding our sector,” a CIF statement said.

The Conservative party is yet to publish its election manifesto, with polling day taking place on June 8.

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