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Sport, Recreation and the Arts - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:34 pm on 19th December 2018.

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Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 6:34 pm, 19th December 2018

I was about to come to that, but now that the noble Lord has raised the question, I am delighted to say that I will of course write to him. It is a good point.

One example of the connection between good mental well-being and physical health is the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is funded by Arts Council England and runs Strokestra, a programme which brings together musicians and stroke patients to harness the power of musical techniques to support rehabilitation. An evaluation of this project reported that 86% of participants felt relief from symptoms. I liked the expression that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, used—“medicine for the soul”. That stuck in the mind, amongst other things, during this debate.

Our libraries, as recreational spaces and community meeting places, are developing ways to support health conditions associated with ageing, with trained Dementia Friends and shared reading courses for people with dementia and their carers. Various speeches today raised these issues. Museums are at the forefront of developing programmes and schemes to support those living with dementia, often using their collections.

Many people also volunteer for heritage organisations or events. Seventy per cent of those who volunteered at recent heritage open days reported feeling more relaxed afterwards, with 64% also feeling more active and healthier. Sixty per cent of the people involved in the Manchester Museum and Imperial War Museum North’s Inspiring Futures programme reported a sustained increase in well-being. This was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Scott. We want to see as many young people as possible engaging in culture. In October, the Culture Secretary announced £5 million for the Youth Performance Partnership Scheme—a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to children’s participating in the arts, which we know can be so transformative.

So how are we supporting this work? The DCMS is committed to promoting the role that arts and culture can play in a healthy, happy society. We will continue to work with our colleagues across government to ensure that this impact is felt. The noble Baroness, Lady Bull, asked whether we would agree, as a Government, that we must find ways to address the conundrum that those who benefit from art most need the help to access it. It is a fair point. We do agree. The Government want as many people as possible to access arts and culture. Arts Council England continues to support arts and culture organisations to expand and also diversify audiences—a point well made. For example, Creative People and Places provides £47 million as an investment in arts provision and building audiences in places where people have fewer opportunities; I am reminded of Liverpool, where opera is transmitted into the city centre via cinemas.

The Government continue to fund approaches that integrate the arts and culture into communities, such as the £20 million Cultural Development Fund. This fund helps towns and cities put arts and culture at the heart of their growth plans. DCMS is also working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the special funding announced in the Budget for Heritage on the High Street as part of the major new Future High Streets Fund.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chichester asked a wide-ranging question on the EU, and whether we could give a commitment, and an indication, on how the Government will repair our reputational and economic damage from the current political uncertainty. That is a big question. I will answer it by saying that the Government recognise the importance of cultural collaboration, and the UK wants to build on our long history of working with the EU to continue to produce and promote excellent culture. That is why, in the July White Paper, the Government proposed a wide-reaching agreement on culture and education with the EU that is broader and more collaborative than anything the EU has agreed before.

The political declaration and agreement with the EU on the terms of our future relationships delivers on this proposal. The proposed agreement on culture and education covers a number of key areas of mutual benefit. I would like to mention the work undertaken by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing, co-chaired, as he said himself, by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, to whom I pay tribute for bringing together expert voices from across both sectors, not only to recognise the great work going on across the country but to continue to shape the direction of arts and health going forward. I was interested to hear his remarks about the benefit of painting linked to mental health. I reflect on Winston Churchill’s experience; he was known to suffer from what he called the “black dog”, and painting was clearly a cathartic hobby for him.

The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, spoke about doping in sport, and the many points that he made are very important indeed. He knows that I will say this, but doping in sport is completely and utterly unacceptable. We completely support the work of UK Anti-Doping.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked whether we should ensure that local government is helped. Local authorities are a major funder of culture through libraries, museums and arts as well as sports, and many recognise the importance—because of the many benefits—of maintaining this funding. The Government encourage them very much to do this. The noble Lord also spoke about the National Lottery. I have spoken previously about the role of Sir John Major, and assure the noble Lord—and the Chamber—that the Government will continue to monitor lottery revenues.

We enjoy good well-being in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics, people’s satisfaction rate with their lives stands at 7.7 out of 10, which has held reasonably steady since measurement began in 2010. But there is much more to do to help inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved. I am passionate that sport and arts should be for everyone, and that they are at the heart of a happy and healthy nation. I beg to move.