The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Image by Garry Knight, London, England [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Labour would reverse culture funding cuts if elected

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 31.08.2016
Corbyn launches arts policy in midst of leadership campaign
A Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would reverse cuts and bring government investment in arts and culture in line with the European average, according to plans announced last week by the opposition leader.

Corbyn, who is in the midst of a leadership election campaign against challenger Owen Smith, outlined a number of ambitious goals in his arts policy document, which was launched at the close of the Edinburgh festival.

The document says a Labour government would restore £46m to culture budgets in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as protecting and increasing local authority budgets. However it does not explain how this would work in practice within the administrations of Scotland and Wales, in which culture is a devolved responsibility that would not be overseen by Corbyn's government.

The investment would be funded by reversing cuts to capital gains tax made by the former chancellor George Osborne in the 2016 budget, which Corbyn says would raise £670m by the end of the current parliament.



The Labour leader also plans to stamp out low pay, unpaid internships and exploitation in the arts and culture sectors by enforcing transparent national policies and guidelines on pay and conditions.
 
The document says Corbyn’s government would commit to ensuring national museums and galleries remain free at the point of use, and would “implement a moratorium on all privatisations in the museum sector”.
 
Labour would work with museums and galleries to “challenge corporate influence, reverse outsourcing and ensure that all workers are paid the real living wage”, according to the document.
 
Labour also plans to create an overarching strategic vision for the arts, while ensuring that arts and culture funding is devolved to regional level to improve “integration of cultural planning with local decision-making”.

The party would also introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England, Scotland and Wales, giving every child the opportunity to access culture, and a “creative apprenticeship brokerage system” to allow students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access specialist training in the sector.

Meanwhile Sadiq Khan, the recently-elected Labour mayor of London, said last week that supporting arts and culture would be one of his “top priorities”.

Speaking at the launch of the city’s autumn season of cultural events and exhibitions, the mayor said: “As long as I’m mayor of this great city, the arts and culture will never be considered just as an extra add-on, an extravagance, just a nice thing to support when we can. No, it’s an area that’s crucial to the future of our city and the prosperity of all Londoners, and will always be treated this way while I’m the mayor.”

Khan said he was in the process of developing a new culture strategy for London, which he said would aim to be “the boldest and most far-reaching vision for culture this city has ever seen”.

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