Government Support for Artists — Question for Short Debate

– in the House of Lords at 7:42 pm on 19th January 2015.

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Photo of The Earl of Clancarty The Earl of Clancarty Crossbench 7:42 pm, 19th January 2015

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are giving to individual artists, including visual artists, writers and composers.

Photo of The Earl of Clancarty The Earl of Clancarty Crossbench

My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the concerns of artists this evening, and look forward to the speeches of other noble Lords. We have never had an arts policy in this country that has properly prioritised the makers and the production of art, although, of course, in the support that the Arts Council and local authorities have given over a long period, production has been a significant part of the mix. However, the overriding considerations—especially recently—have been largely instrumentalist ones. For this Government, it is a justification in terms of the economy; for the previous Administration, it was access and social regeneration as well as the economy. Now, of course, the new weapon in the instrumentalists' armoury is well-being.

Yet the bedrock of the arts in Britain since the war has been, in large measure, the work of the individual artist, whether visual artist, film-maker, novelist, poet, composer, singer-songwriter or others, including many whose true influence is yet to be felt because of the long gestation period of much innovative work. Notwithstanding the importance of teamwork in the arts, it is the individual creative vision which, to a large extent, has determined the artistic and cultural landscape of this country. Without the fine artist, there would be no Tate Modern; without the playwright, there would be no contemporary theatre; without composers and musicians, there would be no concert halls. Therefore, this comparative neglect, in terms of an overall arts policy, is wrong, and there are specific issues that the Government should address. My emphasis will be on the concerns of visual artists, although some of these concerns are common to those working in other media.

The first of these, and possibly the most crucial, is pay. Most artists, indeed many working within the arts as a whole, have a low income—often less than half of the national average. The 2010 survey from the Design and Artists Copyright Society found that the median rate of annual income for a fine artist was around £10,000; for a photographer, it was £15,000. For a writer, according to the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, it is now just £11,000, a drop of 29% since 2005. A theme that emerges is the extent to which, in our current climate of cuts and greater commercialisation, many artists occupy a position at the bottom of a food chain, and are, as a result, being increasingly exploited. Fine artists, musicians and others are, more and more often, being asked to offer their services for free.

The “Paying Artists” campaign, launched last year by the Artist Information Company, demands that artists are paid fairly by publicly funded galleries. “Don't Work for Free” is another similarly minded campaign supported by journalists, photographers and artists. The Artist Information Company estimates that 63% of artists have to turn down requests from galleries to exhibit their work because they cannot afford to do so without pay. I can see that a standard retort to this might be: “What are artists thinking about in turning down exhibitions at all?”; but artists, writers and musicians are frankly weary of being treated in this way. There is no other industry in the world that is expected to live in such a culture of perpetual loss leaders. Shonagh Manson of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation says:

“Paying artists creates value; it doesn't simply ‘cost’ it. Not paying artists limits the potential of the work they can create and the value audiences derive from it. We know that talented artistic voices are lost as the challenge of making ends meet increases”.

This is an area that the Government need to look into. An important point to make here is that the artist being concerned about pay is not the same thing as becoming more commercialised in the work being done. That is the current pressure coming from the Government, which may lead to doing a different kind of work—the pressure, for example, that has already been exerted on arts centres and theatres in the regions. Artists need to be remunerated properly for the work that they do.

Another concern about exploitation is exemplified by the dispute between DACS and the Copyright Licensing Agency. DACS maintains that the publishers who control the CLA are, in its own words, “bullying” artists, photographers and illustrators—and, indeed, writers too—into accepting unreasonable conditions for publication by signing away copyright regarding the distribution of secondary rights. This needs to be sorted out, and one partial solution—I just suggest this as an idea—might be that the CLA should be owned equally by DACS and the ALCS, with publishers having reduced powers in the decision-making process. However, fair contract terms covering intellectual property might also be addressed through legislation. What is the Minister’s response to these concerns?

Writers are having a particularly tough time. Cuts to libraries must be reversed, and while the ALCS is grateful that the public lending right has been extended to non-print formats, it rightly believes that it should also cover remote lending e-books, e-audio books and voluntary administered libraries.

Something that will affect many artists is the projected changes to the regulations for the self-employed on universal credit, because of the lower cut-off point for consideration of tax credits as well as the way that income is calculated on a monthly basis, as artists’ incomes may vary greatly from month to month. One of the problems is the change in our culture towards one that refuses to recognise that those on low pay might be engaged in a vocational pursuit that might need a long time to develop financially, rather than a business that is seeking to make a profit as quickly as possible. I ask the Minister whether serious thought can be given to this.

A measure that affects visual artists is the artists’ resale right, which since 2012 has been a benefit for those who have started to gain a toehold in the marketplace. The cap of £10,000 placed on the maximum level of royalty per artwork and the fact that ARR payments represent only 0.1% of the revenues of the art trade mean that they are no threat to it. Will the Government be an active supporter of ARR in Europe, and can the Government ensure that the ARR regulations are properly complied with, as there is no dedicated enforcement measure in place?

A particular problem that fine artists face is the shortage of studio space and, with rising rents, particularly in London, this is an increasing problem, with spaces being sold off. The GLA estimates that there will be a 30% loss of studio space within the next five years. Artists need reasonably permanent cheap spaces. The success story in London is the charity Acme, one of a number of organisations that provide studio space and which for more than 40 years has been supported by the Arts Council, although that support finishes this year—which founder Jonathan Harvey sees as a success as the charity is now self-sufficient. The keys to that success are the long-term support and the fact that Acme has managed to buy its own buildings. But where that is not possible Section 106 agreements might be used by local authorities in areas where studio space is required, enabling continued employment use in buildings and a guaranteed 100% occupancy. This is something that the Government ought to be encouraging where it is appropriate to do so.

My question today is of course directed towards the Government but it would be unrealistic to deny that everyone within the arts world was now concerned with what will appear in all the parties’ manifestos in terms of their arts policies. The response to that now infamous tweet from the Labour press team is telling because it is clear that there is an increasing belief among many in the arts world, especially artists, that an incoming Government should be seriously considering reversing the cuts.

In the past year, there has been a mobilisation of artists themselves: the formation of Artists’ Union England, and the creation of the Artists’ Assembly against Austerity, a group including the artist Peter Kennard, whose demands in a letter to the Guardian on 27 August last year I certainly support. His demands are also those for a better society and include, for example, the capping of rents—one reason, incidentally, why so many British artists now live in Berlin. Production needs to be enabled from the bottom up, which means that local authority cuts in particular really do need to be reversed. But sooner rather than later, cities need to be allowed tax-raising powers to help generate their own production. There has been talk in recent times of statutory provision of the arts. If such a provision was brought in, the artist must be a part of that.

We need a policy that puts the artist before the audience because logically the art comes first and an audience for a new work may take a long time to develop. That audience should not be socially engineered—I think it is patronising to do so. More consideration should also be given to longer-term support. If you do not achieve in financial terms immediately, you cannot afford to be a successful artist and have a family; this discriminates against women in particular.

Everything that is making going into the arts more difficult—primarily the cuts but also tuition fees and a school education that undervalues the arts—will make being an artist, a musician, a writer or an actor increasingly the preserve of the rich. Nevertheless, there are still many working on very little or no income who contribute significantly through the work they do as artists to a necessary cultural debate held within the wider society, even as that work is under threat. Public funding is and ought to be an important part of maintaining this debate, and support for the artist is the litmus test of how truly a Government, and by implication a society, value it.

Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative 7:52 pm, 19th January 2015

Of course, taxpayers and the Government have had a role in helping individual artists since the setting up of the Arts Council back in 1946. Increasingly, big corporations and the financial world have also developed a role in sponsorship, which I think is generally valued. Then there is the long-running, historic role of individuals in commissioning work de novo from artists. I have done a tiny bit of that myself —not yet, I have to admit, from a Nick Trench or a Cally Trench, but perhaps that may come in due course.

It is worth looking around the world to see how approaches differ in the funding of individuals. In the USA there is much less federal and state subsidy of the arts using taxpayers’ funds, and much more from individuals given pretty big tax breaks to fund directly, which they often do, or via the constituent members of the GIA—Grantmakers in the Arts—all closely monitored by the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS, of the United States.

In Germany the approach is very different. There are of course government arts and performing arts funds to apply to but the very possession of, say, a degree from an art school in Germany creates in law a professional artist by that act, and thereafter the simple act of applying for a grant or a scholarship counts as a job application and automatically becomes a passport to benefits and subsidised social insurance of various kinds.

Australia is particularly interesting. There is support in Australia for everything from art resale royalty schemes—which, I agree with the noble Earl, are extremely important—to art business start-up assistance via the ArtStart scheme, which I applaud. Perhaps a little more surreally—my chosen interest, as it happens—is the consideration being given by the current Australian Government to adding arts activities to the criteria for their “Work for the Dole” scheme. I must remember to draw this idea to the attention of my right honourable friend Mr Duncan Smith down there at the Department for Work and Pensions.

So there is a wide range of different approaches in Europe and the western world. We see a cocktail of mixed economies, with individual, state and corporate ingredients, and I do not think we would ever want to decry any one of those. I certainly hope not. For myself, I am cautious about anything that smacks of a subsidy from the poor to the privileged—I do not like that as a concept—or where subsidy for the arts crowds out unsubsidised artists, or where there is too much centralised picking of winners, which I disapprove of strongly, whether in industrial or artistic policy.

I believe three things very strongly. First, any increase in funding from taxpayers, rich and poor alike, must be only cautiously considered when economic circumstances allow. Secondly, too much noise about the cuts from arts bureaucrats, who generally get a pretty good salary, is both unattractive and generally counterproductive. Thirdly, the one thing I would like to ask my noble friend the Minister is: what consideration is being given in the mean time for new tax breaks for donations to the arts being increased—for example, including a system based on gift aid, which is well established, and which, carefully monitored, will allow for giving to artistic individuals directly? That is something that I hope may have all-party support.

Photo of Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe Labour 7:57 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, when I have spoken before in this House about the hugely positive role of the creative industries, I have focused on the crucial role of our higher education institutions in producing the creative artists and innovators who can contribute so much, both to the future success and well-being of the UK and to shaping the way in which other countries perceive us.

The UK is a world leader in this area, and universities and the smaller specialist institutions are the engine which generates the powerhouse of artists, musicians and wordsmiths to maintain that leadership. But the impressive 2014 strategy document of the Creative Industries Council, a body which has done a great deal to reinforce the importance of this sector, finds that access to finance has been one of the major challenges to future growth and maturity in the UK creative industries. It is ironic that we have hugely creative enterprises in this sector, but they are invariably small; employment and continuing funding are precarious; and many young artists or businesses struggle to grow and expand to make their work sustainable.

I know that a number of universities with creative industries or arts degree programmes have introduced employability programmes to equip graduates to set up in business on their own or handle freelance or portfolio working, recognising that this is a likely career path. One example will show how higher education institutions prepare their graduates for this exciting but uncertain world. Artquest, the principal intervention in career support at the University of the Arts London, is a project that supports all artists, not just its graduates, particularly in the first years of their careers. It connects them to the resources, opportunities and networks they need to develop their practices and careers. It supports them to keep making work as the pressures of day-to-day survival grow. It shares the experiences of artists and industry professionals.

That work is informed by ground-breaking research across 26 art and design universities, looking at early career patterns of their graduates. It is titled Creative Graduates Creative Futures, and a telling section in Will Hutton’s introduction reads:

“Many found the only entry into the industry was via unpaid internships, requiring parental support and middle class backgrounds.

The relationship is close to exploitative, even though the young men and women trying to win a foothold in the industry do not see it that way. The creative industries should offer more paid internships, and take more care of its enthusiastic workforce”.

I would welcome the Minister’s views on this.

NESTA’s 2008 research on fine artists as innovators, still one of the best insights in this area, emphasises the desire of fine arts graduates to take up occupations where they can identify themselves as artists. It states that they have many of the skills needed for wider innovation, and see themselves as brokers across disciplines, taking insights and techniques from one field and translating them creatively into another. However, as I know from my past role at Universities UK, those transferable skills and aptitude for team working, creativity and independent learning are often dismissed.

NESTA’s work, and that more recently of the CBI, along with the work of the Creative Industries Council as well as the universities, shows unequivocally that the sector is a leading global hub for the creative industries but that for success to be sustained, all players must work together to support the sector and the individual artists in it. I hope that the Minister can tell us what the Government are doing to work in partnership with the industry to put creative industries at the heart of the growth agenda and build on what is already a true UK success story.

Photo of Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Liberal Democrat 8:01 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for this debate. He keeps this House talking about the arts and culture, which is so important.

Last week, the DCMS published the latest figures for the creative industries. They demonstrate what the noble Earl, I and, I think, all who are taking part in this debate know and have been saying for so long about the importance of the cultural sector. It grew by nearly 10% in 2013, three times the rate of the wider UK economy.

The noble Earl asked about support for the individual artist. I want to concentrate on when and where it starts. It is essential that the status of the arts in the classroom is properly recognised. There is a lot of debate at the moment—at the time of the Oscars, the BAFTAs and everything else—about how many of our top-flight actors are from public schools. Surely a key factor is that they were fortunate enough to have experienced dedicated time to study the arts at school, and they had inspirational teachers. Does my noble friend the Minister agree that this must be extended beyond the private sector?

To quote Grayson Perry:

““For so many children, doing art … isn’t something they come across until they are taught it at school. Not everyone’s mother sits down with scissors and paper and makes collages with them … The idea that art will somehow look after itself—that society will breed untaught geniuses—is rubbish”.

Darren Henley—now, I am glad to say, chief executive of the Arts Council—agrees with Grayson Perry. In his review of cultural education, he noted that,

“this area of education is no longer valued as much as it once was”,

despite the fact that the schools that provide high-quality cultural education get better academic results. Does my noble friend agree that Darren Henley’s national plan should finally be fully implemented?

I turn to what happens when you emerge from the educational system. The coalition has overseen a record number of apprenticeships in the creative industries funded by government. Eighty-one per cent of those who have gone through such apprenticeships take up jobs in the creative industries, so this is obviously something to build on. I declare an interest here as a trustee of the Lowry. We are involved through our future leaders programme in organising placements and mentoring for those who leave education. And then there is the Lowry Studio, which among other things provides space for new and emerging artistic companies to work. I agree strongly with the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, on the issue of space—therein lies a problem. My sister, who is an artist, was part of an artistic co-operative back in the 1980s. A graphic design company—it was called Cubitt; I do not know whether your Lordships know about that—donated a space that was temporarily empty and artists were allowed to occupy it. They could both pursue their art and learn business skills. They learnt about how to run a space. As we know, many empty buildings across the UK could be used in this way. They are not necessarily spaces that could be turned into places for people to live, but they could be turned into spaces for artists.

Have you noticed that whenever an important person visits a school—a Prime Minister or a President—the first things that they are shown are the paintings of the children? The next thing they are invited to do is to listen to the singing of the children. I rest our case.

Photo of Viscount Falkland Viscount Falkland Crossbench 8:05 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to my noble friend Lord Clancarty. As the noble Baroness said, he keeps the arts alive in your Lordships’ Chamber and I am glad that that is so. I say that rather ruefully because when I was a member of the Liberal Democrats, which was by and large a very enjoyable time, it was not easy to deal with the arts in the way that I should have liked—as a spokesman I was mostly talking about gambling, drink and other matters. As a Cross-Bencher, I hope that I may be able to be freer in my remarks.

I shall not follow the noble Earl down the road of individual support for artists. He was admirably answered by the noble Lord, Lord Patten, who gave us some very constructive views and interesting comparisons with other countries.

I say to the noble Earl that it is true and obvious that the arts win no votes in elections. I do not think that there will be many debates on the doorsteps of England and Scotland on the arts policy of the particular party which is at the front door talking to them—it is just a fact of life. People take for granted the excellence of our arts in this country. We perform enormously well with all the hurdles—in fact, one could argue that artists do terribly well because of the hard road that they follow in whichever field that it may be, be it the world of music, ballet, opera, dance or film, so it is something that we can be very proud of.

Returning to the Liberal Democrats—I am not trying to get back or anything—I think that Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was terribly good yesterday on “The Andrew Marr Show”, not least because he managed to fight his way through the constant interruptions, which certainly his predecessors on that programme and the other leaders failed to do. That may augur well for the television debates, if they should take place—it may be why the Prime Minister does not want to be wiped off the floor again by Mr Clegg. Mr Clegg said one thing yesterday which interests me, and that is the party’s commitment to literacy—which is vital, and the uses of literacy, of course, to use the title of Hoggart’s book—but it does not go far enough. If you think about it and you go to museums in London, you will find that they are always full—our museums and galleries are terrific—but you do not see many of our indigenous people there; they are mostly tourists and people who come here to go to them. This suggests to me that something is wrong with our education, and it is on education that I want to concentrate in the short time available to me.

We are closing avenues into the creative arts to young people. It is scandalous that we have exclusions from school at the current level. It is not the business of state education or the academies to decide that disruptive students and students who come from poor backgrounds and are troublesome—although one sympathises with the teachers—should be excluded. A lot of troublesome people become very good artists, as everyone in the Chamber knows. In my youth, I worked as a theatrical agent. Every day of my life, I worked with troublesome people, clever people and talented people. My children are mostly in the arts. My daughter teaches excluded children. She teaches them to think up stories and then to make a four to five-minute film. Some of those children had been in detention and in terrible trouble. The results have been remarkable.

That is my message tonight for the noble Earl: it is education that we need to attack first of all, because we are cutting out the chances for a lot of talented people to emerge.

Photo of Lord Maclennan of Rogart Lord Maclennan of Rogart Liberal Democrat 8:10 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, for raising another issue which is central to the success of our creative industries, which are growing and are increasingly recognised by those who may not have been involved in the arts. I should like to speak about the intellectual property aspects of the arts. We have made some progress in this area, but not enough. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has now been set up, and could be a means of enforcement of the rights of artists.

Copyright is the mechanism through which writers, composers and music creators are paid for their work. Royalties provide essential income for creators so that they can grow and invest in themselves and their businesses. Therefore, it is essential that the copyright framework remains strong so that composers, creativity and innovation can continue to be supported.

The role of government in helping to set the framework in both the United Kingdom and the EU remains crucial in that respect, but government also has an important role to play in the field of copyright education. I commend the importance of educating people at school and subsequently to understand intellectual property, which will help to reinforce greater respect for it. We are all creators today, and individuals should appreciate how copyright positively relates to value creation. Education and consumer awareness programmes that seek to change current behaviour or influence future action are essential to nurture a greater culture of respect and value for the United Kingdom’s creative economy and to negate the impact of infringement.

In October 2014, the Conservative Member of Parliament, Mr Mike Weatherley, produced a paper on copyright education. It was a comprehensive report which sets out where we are and what more could be done. The report provides a series of sensible recommendations for different stakeholders—government, industry and academia—to consider. One chapter of the report focuses on the curriculum. Formal education through schools and colleges is an essential element in developing in every new generation the attitudes, skills, knowledge and culture of society. Although schools teach creative writing, et cetera, the school curriculum does not adequately provide for copyright education, a tool that is important to a career in the creative industries. Perhaps it should.

It is vital that intellectual property education begins at a young age, as early appreciation of the value of creation and innovation can serve to support a positive association with the concept. What exists within schools tends to be sector specific and devised and promoted on modest budgets. As a result, it can be lacking in audience understanding and delivered without clear evaluation. High-quality educational materials are needed, but not enough exist or are well known about.

I commend the concept of education in intellectual property to the Government.

Photo of Lord Berkeley of Knighton Lord Berkeley of Knighton Crossbench 8:15 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Clancarty for focusing our attention on artists. I was pleased to hear my noble friend Lord Falkland mention education, because that is the most important aspect of what I want to say—indeed, of what many of us have to say—but I must take him to task for just one moment for flying a very dangerous balloon. That is the idea that better art comes from poverty. Try telling that to a composer friend of mine who lives in a basement flat in Balham and cannot currently pay the heating bill.

There is a problem at the grass-roots level. There is a crisis affecting composers in particular. As the Government know, the Arts Council has had its budget slashed by £83 million. This has fed into the commissions to composers being cut. The Arts Council principle that individual artists should be financed through its clients is breaking down. Cash to festivals and for innovative programmers to commission is ceasing. The noble Lord, Lord Patten, will be pleased to hear that I am not talking about the Royal Opera House or the Royal Shakespeare Company. I am talking about grass-roots level. These are the artists and the provincial theatre productions that feed into regions and schools. At that level, artists are working on an incredibly tiny budget.

As a result of the Arts Council budget being cut, the BBC has become even more important to composers, for it is giving almost more commissions than any other body. I must declare an interest here. In 2013, some 35 works were commissioned. Before the BBC is slashed, the charter reviewed and the licence fee cut, bear in mind that it is part of the cultural infrastructure.

The composer in Balham whom I mentioned earns about £1,200 for three to four months’ work, if he gets a commission. You try getting a plumber, an electrician or a carpenter, let alone a doctor or a lawyer, for that amount. It really is scraping the bottom of the barrel and yet, as the Government are generous enough to accept, songwriters and composers bring to the national economy some £1.7 billion GVA. People may think that does not come from classical composers, but many musicals and pop musicians rely on classical players—think of George Martin and the Beatles—to bring about what they produce. I produced Kate Bush on her “Hounds of Love” album, an album that brought millions into the Exchequer. She had the idea—I must not take that away from her—but she did not know how to write it down and to get it off the page with professional musicians. I was very happy and honoured to do that for her.

This is where education comes in. We often say, “How can we give more money to the arts when funding for education and the NHS has been cut?”. My answer is that art feeds in to the well-being of society. Young children who can express themselves through music and art become better citizens. In the National Health Service, we know that using the ability to paint and to express oneself through the use of music therapy works.

Let us think back, finally, to the Olympics and how marvellous and successful our athletes were. It was because we cherished talent. That is what we need to do for the arts—cherish talent.

Photo of Baroness Kidron Baroness Kidron Crossbench 8:20 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I would like to raise three points that have to do specifically with non-commercial arts funding: the impact of top-down funding structures on the individual artist, the rise of instrumentalism in judging art and the tyranny of excellence. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Clancarty for his tireless work in this area and I refer noble Lords to my interests in the register.

Most current funding structures conform to the top-down principle of trickle-down theory, with the effect that the total amount of money reaching individual artists is incommensurate to their contribution to the arts ecosystem, and the gatekeepers of art funding garner too much power. In this funding model, money, whether public or private, flows from a central distributor to arts organisations that in turn offer the opportunity for individual artists to make or show work. However, as in many similar trickle-down structures, by the time the funds have trickled down, there is very little left for those at the bottom of the pile, in this case the individual artist. Meanwhile, organisations, particularly those which distribute public funds, have a duty to maximise the benefits of the funds they administer and invariably develop criteria against which success can be measured. Funding transactions routinely have to navigate the personal taste of the gatekeeper, their interpretation of public value, and the success criteria of the organisation that they are representing. This is a system that makes funding institutions complex and risk-averse and, for many individual artists, unapproachable.

Being slaves to the metrics of success is counter to the very purpose of art and the artist. Their role is not to fulfil criteria nor to follow fashion but to disrupt and reinvent the world as they imagine it. I suggest that when considering arts funding, the artist should be at the top of the pile and we should aim to support art that is intrinsically, rather than instrumentally, valuable.

That leads me to the second point, which is the harm in believing that art and artists have to be useful. Since I came to the House, I have argued that art contributes to our GDP, benefits social mobility and education, that we ought to use art in health settings, and so on and so forth. While I do support all of these uses of creativity, it must not be at the expense of supporting artists to make art. Whatever our tastes, we value art because it is provocative, reflective, beautiful, satirical, and it helps us make sense of the world. The discoveries we make have value in all sorts of other arenas, but societies protect their artists and foster creative cultures that sustain and produce art because it is the essential space in which we imagine ourselves without the straitjacket of utility, beyond the metrics of instrumentality. It is that which makes us human. If the demand is that art should deliver a predetermined outcome, then it is not art.

Finally, on the tyranny of excellence, in his Reith lectures of 1949 Bertrand Russell said:

“In the ages in which there were great poets, there were also large numbers of little poets, and when there were great painters there were large numbers of little painters. The great German composers arose in a milieu where music was valued, and where numbers of lesser men found opportunities. In those days poetry, painting, and music were a vital part of the daily life of ordinary men, as only sport is now”.

One cannot create a great artist but we can and must support a culture in which many individuals make art and in which excellence may happily flourish. It is counterintuitive, perhaps, but imperative that we do not prevent excellence by insisting upon it.

Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Equalities and Women's Issues) 8:24 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I join others in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, on initiating this debate and all other noble Lords who have spoken in it. Many pertinent questions have been raised, so I do not envy the Minister who is going to answer them. I also want to say thank you for the briefings that I received from the BBC, the Arts Council and even the Mayor of London. They were very impressive and I am grateful for them, as I feel much better informed. What I looked for in those briefings was evidence and an assessment of the impact of the organisations’ support on hard-to-reach groups, underrepresented people and those with talent but disadvantaged by their background, geographical location or lack of support. This was alluded to by the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter.

The Arts Council tells us in its briefing us that it is increasing its investment to £210 million from 2015, which will mean an increase from £63 million to

£70 million to support important work that artists do across all art forms. It says:

“Grants are available from £1,000 to £100,000 to help artists in England carry out their work and split into two categories”,

those above £15,000 and those below £15,000. The council goes on to say:

“We are developing an advice framework which will provide support to underrepresented applicants (key groups include individuals, first time applicants, BME and disabled artists)”.

I would like to know the timetable for this initiative, which, to be blunt, I was surprised to see was not already happening as an integral part of the Arts Council’s work. When will it be rolled out and how will its effectiveness be monitored? As the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, said, knowing the effectiveness of the support that is given is extremely important. We all know that the existence of small galleries, for instance, is a crucial part in the support and development of artists. Since we also know that, due to the lack of commissions and sales, small galleries face increasing overheads, has the Arts Council taken into account the increased challenges faced by young artists starting out?

Noble Lords will be aware that the Rebalancing our Cultural Capital report and the PLACE Report have recently pointed out big postcode disparities in the spending per head on arts provision. They found that Londoners benefited from £69 per head, compared with £4.50 in the rest of England. As my honourable friend Chris Bryant MP said recently, making sure the English regions have enough funding for culture is “the direction of travel” for Labour, as indeed we are certainly linking education and arts in our current policy development.

Without doubt, one of the challenges is the London and south-east bias of the institutions that historically received direct grants in aid or money through the Arts Council, along with the dependence of regions outside London on support from local authorities, which of course have seen dramatic cuts in their funding from central government. Since the support for arts is discretionary in this matter, there is a terrible knock-on effect on regional and local arts in the creative industries. It is not good enough that DCMS Ministers fail to engage with local councils and councillors, a matter that I raised in Questions to the Minister a little while ago when a CMS Select Committee report said that it was “staggering” to learn that DCMS Ministers were having no conversations with local councillors. I hope that the Minister can say that that has been remedied. We need to think about the pivotal role of the leaders of the core cities, including Bristol, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester.

Noble Lords have raised some pertinent questions on a wide range of issues. I congratulate them on that and look forward to the Government’s response to them.

Photo of Baroness Jolly Baroness Jolly Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 8:29 pm, 19th January 2015

My Lords, I declare my interest as a trustee of the charity Help Musicians UK. I am pleased to answer this Question for Short Debate in regard to which everyone has paid tribute to the tenacity of the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty. There has been a fascinating and broad collection of responses. I confess that I will have trouble responding to all of them within the time that I have available, so I think that I will be writing a substantial letter to all those who have contributed to ensure that all the queries are replied to.

The Government are committed to supporting the arts to provide culture for all, ensuring that the economic, social and intrinsic benefits are available to everyone. During the life of this Parliament, almost £3 billion will have been provided to Arts Council England by the Government in grant in aid and National Lottery money. Supporting individual artists is central to the Arts Council’s 10-year strategy, Great Art and Culture for Everyone.

The Arts Council supports individual artists to develop their careers at various stages through three main funding strands: Grants for the Arts, the Artists’ International Development Fund and national portfolio organisations funding. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, asked me about the Paying Artists campaign. Arts Council policy states that workers must in accordance with the law be paid at least the minimum wage. Arts Council guidance to organisations hoping to be portfolio organisations says that they must pay interns and other workers fairly. Arts Council England requires all portfolio organisations to operate “bridges” in which artists’ fees are in line with relevant codes of practice from all the sector organisations. These Arts Council national portfolio organisations take a proactive role in supporting contemporary artists and makers, enabling their artwork to reach a wider audience, and will be supported over the next three years to implement fair pay to all artists.

The aim of the Arts Council is to nurture artistic excellence by investing in organisations that develop and showcase talent. It provides support to individual artists through various funding partner organisations, such as the 111 national portfolio organisations that work in visual arts nationwide.

One issue that the noble Earl was concerned about was space to work. The Arts Council is working to make the arts and the wider culture of museums and libraries an integral part of everyday public life. As part of that, it has a number of studio providers among its national portfolio organisations, such as Bow Arts, Islington Mill, ACAVA and ACME, which advocate for access to good-quality, affordable space and facilities. ACME is a good example of a studio organisation that has achieved self-sustainability, in part due to public investment as an Arts Council portfolio organisation over many years, but also due to its sound financial and commercial planning. The Arts Council also has partnerships with studio organisations including the Essex Network of Artists’ Studios and the Greater London Authority.

There are new artist-focused partnership programmes and networks in the national portfolio for 2015 onwards. These include support for the Syllabus, a partnership with Wysing Arts Centre to enable it to deliver an initiative to support individual artists. It will work with New Contemporaries, S1 Artspace and Studio Voltaire to support early-career artists who cannot afford the costs of higher education. Many of the Arts Council’s portfolio organisations devote their resources to supporting artists and the production of new work. I give a name check to a few: Artangel, Forma, the Crafts Council, Artsadmin, and Arts Catalyst.

The Arts Council supports the Contemporary Visual Arts Network so that visual arts organisations across all the regions, including the BALTIC in Newcastle and the Arnolfini arts centre and gallery in Bristol, can work together to adapt to develop resilient business models and ensure sustainability. The Arts Council also works with galleries, including the South London Gallery, to ensure consistent provision of arts opportunities for children and young people, so that all can benefit from the excellent practice that currently exists in the visual arts.

I turn to literature. Poetry and literary translation are championed. The Arts Council provides funding for writers at various stages in their careers, working in new forms and connecting with readers through live and digital events. Nearly £20 million is being invested between 2015 and 2018 to fund organisations nationwide offering high-quality creative and professional training to writers; 46 literature organisations are involved in this as part of their national portfolio, including Comma Press in the north-west, New Writing North in the north-east and the Poetry Archive in the south-west.

Creative writing opportunities are funded by the Arts Council—for example, through the Ministry of Stories, SLAMbassadors and the National Literacy Trust’s 21st Century Author scheme. The Grants for the Arts funding supports a wide range of literature organisations to develop their work, including independent publishers, literature festivals, writers’ networks, spoken word events and community reading projects. Recent examples include Brighton and Hove City Reads, the shared reading of one novel across the city each year; Mouthy Poets, a young poetry collective of up-and-coming talent; West Midlands Readers’ Network, a project bringing together 14 public libraries, readers’ groups and writers across the region; the Creative Future Literary Awards, promoting the work of disabled and marginalised writers; and festivals as far apart as Huddersfield, Kirklees, Much Wenlock, Maryport and Swindon. Grants for the Arts also funds a range of writing projects, including research and development, mentoring, residencies and opportunities to collaborate and to work creatively with new technology.

We must not forget musicians. The Arts Council champions new music and the work of British composers and artists, seeking to ensure that they are at the heart of cultural life and enjoyed by many. It currently funds 93 music national portfolio organisations, including the big names such as the Hallé in Manchester, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, whose Discovery programme hosts the Panufnik Young Composers scheme as well as the LSO Soundhub, a platform for emerging composers.

The Government’s work on cultural education continues to make good progress. The DCMS, the DfE and the Arts Council have worked together to increase the opportunities and support for any young person who wants to get involved with the arts. The Government are making a substantial investment in music education, including £246 million for music education hubs, which are managed by the Arts Council. These aim to improve access to music education for all, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I shall pick up on the points made by noble Lords during the debate. The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, asked a number of questions about the artist’s resale right. One of the advantages of the royalties generated by the artist’s resale right is that artists or their estates are able to benefit whenever their work is resold by a dealer or auctioneer. ARR is an EU competence that is relatively new to UK law. The European Commission has a commitment periodically to review the implementation and effects of the directive governing the resale right. In formulating any contribution to the Commission’s review, the Government will take due account of a range of available evidence from artists, their representatives and art market professionals. I have more in my brief, but I shall write to the noble Earl, giving him full details. He also raised issues about the dispute between DACS and CLA. Again, we note the suggestions, although we see this as essentially a private commercial matter between the relevant parties. Again, I have a level of detail in my brief that time prevents me from going into, but I shall write.

My noble friend Lord Patten queried government support and asked about the possibility of an equivalent of Gift Aid. The Government are boosting philanthropy through the introduction of tax incentives and Arts Council England is supporting the professionalism of fundraising through the Catalyst scheme. Again, I will put the detail in the letter.

I thank the noble Lord for giving me advance notice of a question about the Town and Country Planning Act, because I was able to get detail on that. The Arts Council has taken three initiatives in that regard. It supports local authorities in using Section 106 by publishing guidance on developing a standard charge approach for levying developer contributions for the arts. It has also published guidance on the community infrastructure levy for culture on the Town and Country Planning Association’s culture and sport planning toolkit website. The toolkit was developed in 2009-10 with support from the non-departmental public bodies for culture and sport. In 2013 the Arts Council provided a small grant to refresh the toolkit.

My noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter asked about increasing access to the arts beyond the private sector. The Arts Council firmly believes that careers in the arts should not be limited to the privileged few and advises all portfolio organisations to pay artists in line with best practice to enable the fairest rates for people across the sector.

During this Parliament, the Government have worked to support individual artists and to help everyone in the UK achieve access to great art and culture and they will continue to do so.

Sitting suspended.