Jeremy Corbyn promises to reverse arts spending cuts

Labour leader unveils arts strategy in Edinburgh, pledging to introduce arts pupil premium for primary schools

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged that the Labour party under his leadership would introduce an arts pupil premium for primary schools and reverse arts spending cuts made over the last six years.

The Labour leader launched his arts strategy in Edinburgh on Friday to coincide with the last few days of the Edinburgh festival.

He said: “Drawing on Britain’s rich cultural heritage, Labour under my leadership will commit to extending access and participation in the arts to all people and all communities across Britain.

“There is creativity in all of us but we need to give people the opportunities for this creativity to flourish.”

He said a radical, transformative vision for the arts would be central to his plans to rebuild and transform Britain.

“Labour will reverse Tory cuts to arts expenditure and set out a bold and inspiring policy programme for the arts, building on our proud cultural heritage,” Corbyn said.

Among his promises are:

• To introduce an arts pupil premium for every primary school pupil in England, in line with the existing PE pupil premium set up in 2013, which boosts school sports budgets by about £150m a year. He would also look to extending this to secondary schools.

• To aim to increase the proportion of GDP the UK government spends on arts and culture to match the European average.

• To reverse “Tory real-terms cuts to arts expenditure and restore grant-in-aid funding of the Arts Council.”

• To introduce a cross-departmental cabinet committee on the arts and creative industries tasked with increasing participation.

• To develop a national policy on libraries and enforce in law that local authorities “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service extended to digital services”.

• To consider whether dance and drama should be made national curriculum subjects in their own right.

Labour claims Arts Council England has lost, in real terms, £7.2m grant-in-aid since 2010, while Creative Scotland has lost £4.1m and Arts Council of Wales has lost £4.5m.

The cost of restoring that money would be met from the £670m raised by reversing cuts to capital gains tax introduced by the former chancellor George Osborne in the last budget, Corbyn’s team said.

The policies will be looked at with interest by arts leaders, although there is no mention of one of the most sought-after policy decisions: adding arts to the government’s focus on science, technology, engineering and maths – thus making Stem become Steam.

Corbyn’s strategy differs from that announced by Ed Miliband in February 2015, when he said he could not make any promises about reversing spending cuts. He did, though, pledge to give every child a universal entitlement to a creative education.


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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