Arts and Creative Industries Strategy - Motion to Take Note

– in the House of Lords at 12:07 pm on 8 December 2022.

Alert me about debates like this

Viscount Chandos:

Moved by Viscount Chandos

That this House takes note of the case for an arts and creative industries strategy to maintain the United Kingdom’s global leadership within the sector and align the industries’ economic benefits with the Government’s levelling up agenda.

Photo of Viscount Chandos Viscount Chandos Labour

My Lords, a friend asked me, pleased as I was to have secured this debate, “Why is Parliament giving time to debate the arts while the country faces an economic crisis with the highest inflation for four decades, horrendous NHS waiting lists and a savage war resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?” I thought that in response I could invoke Sir Winston Churchill, who has been widely quoted as saying, when asked to cut funding for the arts to support the war effort, “Then what would we be fighting for?” Sadly, that quote does not pass the necessary fact-checking test, but in fact Churchill did say at the Royal Academy on 30 April 1938:

“The arts are essential to any complete national life. The state owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them.”

The brave Ukrainian people have perhaps asked the question, “What are we fighting for?”, even if Churchill did not. The National Opera of Ukraine in Kyiv reopened three months after its closure at the start of the war, on 22 May, and has been performing regularly ever since, with 11 performances during December alone. A Lieutenant Butkevych, who attended that first performance in May, said it was

“a symbol that Kyiv, which was surrounded … has reopened its cultural institutions.”

I hope to make the case for why this country should nurture, protect and grow its cultural institutions—first and foremost to complete our national life, but also because they can contribute to restoring the economic growth that is so vital to a prosperous society.

I should declare my interests as set out in the register. In particular, I am a trustee of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which has been a significant philanthropic funder of the arts for 60 years; a vice-chair of the world-leading drama school, LAMDA, and a past director of English National Opera. My wife is a trustee of Gainsborough’s House.

ENO has of course been the focus of huge attention over the past month, following the announcement by Arts Council England of its intention to remove it, at five months’ notice, from the list of national portfolio organisations receiving certain funding over the coming three-year period. I have deep personal attachment to ENO: I saw my first opera, aged 9, when it was still at its original base of Sadler’s Wells, and I was taken to its opening night at the Coliseum in 1968. But, more than that, I believe it has consistently and successfully served an audience drawn not just from London but, as visitors, from all over the country and the world—many of whom would not otherwise have access to opera at all, as Lilian Baylis, the founder, always envisaged. At the same time, it has been the most important platform for the career development of British singers, directors and conductors, as well as a vital employer of top orchestral players and technical crew.

There is no opera company in the world that has had a more profound impact on the world of opera, from bringing great composers of the past such as Handel and Janáček back into the mainstream repertoire, to commissioning or performing contemporary composers, from the premieres of Britten’s “Peter Grimes”, a month after the end of the Second World War—that’s what we fought for—and of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “The Silver Tassie”, the first great opera of the new millennium. It has championed other contemporary composers such as Philip Glass, John Adams and Poul Ruders, whose opera based on Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, performed earlier this year, attracted a buzzing, young and diverse audience.

For a number of reasons, I do not intend to make the rest of my remarks focus unduly on ENO. The other place has held two short debates already, most recently one on Monday initiated by Sir Bob Neill, in which my right honourable friends Margaret Hodge and Harriet Harman spoke powerfully, as did Sir Bob. Only this morning, the Select Committee on DCMS took evidence from Darren Henley, the chief executive of Arts Council England, with ENO taking centre stage. Another reason is that not everybody likes opera. Plenty of classical music lovers and many devotees of theatre do not like it. I believe that the distinguished music critic of the Manchester Guardian and the Guardian, Philip Hope-Wallace, said:

“Opera is possibly the most sublime, certainly the most ridiculous of all art forms”.

“Everyone Needs Opera” was a possibly ill-judged strapline adopted by ENO 30 years ago, guaranteed to annoy the half of the population—or whatever percentage—who agreed that it was a ridiculous art form but not a sublime one.

The arts, though, are a web of interlocking art forms which nourish each other. David Hockney designed some of opera’s greatest sets for Glyndebourne; Sam Mendes made his name as a theatre director, notably at the Donmar, and went on to direct the Oscar-winning “American Beauty” and two James Bond movies; Nicholas Hytner made his name substantially by directing operas for Kent Opera and with his ground-breaking “Xerxes” and “Magic Flute” for ENO.

A friend and colleague, forcing me to admit that I had not been watching much of the World Cup, said “Well, you don’t like football”—not exactly true—“but I don’t like opera. On the other hand”, she went on, “my favourite band is Queen, and Freddie Mercury said that going to the opera for the first time changed his life. He went on to make a recording with the legendary soprano Montserrat Caballé”. This leads down two paths: the importance of access and, as I have already touched on, the interconnection of the arts with the broader creative industries, which represent over £100 billion of gross value added in our economy and at least 2.3 million—around 7%—of the total number of jobs.

This sector, in which the UK can genuinely be described as a world leader, is also one of the fastest growing in the economy. At its roots are the creativity and skills and the people who have in many cases, but not all, developed and honed those skills in the subsidised arts sector. The economic benefits of the wider creative industries and their essential role in fostering tourism are a hugely important and welcome consequence of investing in the arts, but we should never let go of the primary purpose of the arts: to enrich the lives of people and complete our national life.

That should be true for everyone, of every age and background and in every part of the country. Not everybody needs opera, but everyone should have the chance to experience opera, theatre, dance, visual arts, heritage and music, and then be able to enjoy and participate in those art forms they enjoy. This is what lies at the heart of the Arts Council’s mission and that of the DCMS.

This brings me back to the recently announced awards by Arts Council England to the national portfolio organisations and the choices that lie behind them. The nature of the arts and of all the creative industries is dynamic change. It is important to be open to that change but, at the same time, established organisations can have such deeply embedded knowledge, skills and value to their audiences and to the infrastructure and ecology of their art form.

A very careful balance needs to be struck between dynamic change and the preservation and enhancement of what is good and excellent. Within that, a balance has to be struck between accelerating the provision of arts in underserved parts of the country, both on a broad regional basis and in terms of individual areas within these regions, and the protection and enhancement of the UK’s world-leading position in the creative industries. The bewilderment and anger felt by many at the NPO awards raise the question of whether the balance has been fairly and wisely struck.

It is not just the ENO decision, behind which there are exceptionally complex and long-running issues dating back 30 years. There have been many other contradictory or incomprehensible decisions. A world-leading orchestra outside London, the Britten Sinfonia, has had 100% of its funding cut. WNO, which tours England from its base in Cardiff, has lost a third of its funding. Hampstead Theatre and the Donmar have both lost all their grants. These theatres are at the heart of new British writing, with innovative, excellent productions. Glyndebourne Tour, a long-standing partnership with the unsubsidised Glyndebourne festival to bring its work to audiences around the country, has seen its support halved.

Choices will always have to be made and balances struck, whatever the total resources available are, but there is no doubt that the task of striking the balance between cultural levelling up and the promotion of the UK’s world-leading position is massively harder against the background of the 40% real-terms cut in Arts Council England’s grant in aid since the start of Conservative or Conservative-led Governments since 2010, unchanged levels of lottery funding in nominal terms and 40% real-terms reductions in local authorities’ spending on the arts over the same period. Meeting both objectives would clearly be easier with a larger pie to divide. I look to a future Labour Government, still within strong public spending financial discipline, to creatively and innovatively increase spending on the arts—starting by avoiding questionable political vanity projects such as Unboxed.

In the here and now, the division of the pie, however inadequate, is the crux of the matter, and the evidence suggests that it has been done unwisely, unprofessionally and chaotically by Arts Council England, however much the directions from the previous Secretary of State may have been unrealistic and contradictory. Does the Minister have confidence in Arts Council England’s ability to play its role in the light not just of the underlying decisions it has made but of the abysmal level of planning and communications with both affected organisations and the world at large? Will he use every effort to ensure that, at the very least, adequate transitional arrangements are put in place for ENO and all the organisations suffering severe proposed cuts? If necessary, will the Government vary the policy and directions relating to lottery funding to enable it to be used to supplement the grant in aid for core funding? There is no point adhering blindly to the principle of additionality if the heart of arts provision is failing.

It is not clear to me—I held this view even before recent events—that the central Arts Council contributes much, if anything, to the effective distribution of funding. I hope that the future Labour Government will re-examine the case for moving the major national organisations under the responsibility of the department, as has always been the case for major museums, while devolving everything else to reconstituted and empowered regional arts boards, working more closely with metropolitan and regional mayors and local authorities, along the lines of the approach advocated by my right honourable friend Gordon Brown in his report this week.

I look forward to hearing the contribution of other noble Lords speaking today. With their knowledge and eloquence, I believe that the case for the state sustaining and encouraging the arts, as Churchill advocated, will resound not just through Westminster but throughout the country.

Photo of Baroness Andrews Baroness Andrews Chair, Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, Chair, Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee 12:22, 8 December 2022

My Lords, it is a privilege to follow my noble friend’s speech, which was extraordinarily powerful and very moving. We are in his debt for securing this debate and for the case he made for creating a cultural strategy that can serve to lift the spirits as well as the economy. I agree with every word he said.

My noble friend’s argument was cast, rightly, against the background of the furore against the Arts Council settlement and, in particular, the decision to redistribute £50 million away from London and into other parts of the country. Of course, the context for this is pretty toxic in itself: a decade of funding cuts that have starved local as well as national culture, a pandemic that cut the arteries of culture and a period of political opportunism. Frankly, our cultural life has never felt more precarious or more precious.

Within this context I will focus on opera, not because it is a narrow aspect of the decision but because it illustrates the widest and broadest implications of what has happened and the decision in relation to English National Opera. I find it not just extraordinary and damaging on its own terms but symptomatic of a deep confusion in the Arts Council’s objectives and expectations. Culture succeeds best when it is embedded strategically and grown from seed, rather than imposed.

There is also a more recent contradiction, which thrives in the absence of a strategic plan for culture: the erosion of the boundaries between what government wants and what arm’s-length bodies—ALBs—are there to do. We are in a new landscape, and one of its features is that arts and heritage have taken on a new attraction for government as the light brigade of levelling up. I ought not to be against this—it could be an epiphany—because for years we have argued for the unique capacity of arts and heritage to make, remake and renew places, skills, resilience, jobs and identity, and this seems to have finally got through to government. On the other hand, this new use of patronage carries huge risks of loss of independence and integrity, and it is this conflicted nature that the Arts Council and other ALBs are well aware of.

There is no argument to be had against redistribution outside London or against closing the cultural deficit. There is every argument to be had about how this is done, and the perverse consequences which may follow. Goodness knows, in this House it is our special subject—perverse consequences. We are for ever telling the other place to think again, to make sure that it does not go down that road, but within this settlement is a set of perverse consequences.

Welsh National Opera has had the second largest cut of any organisation in the portfolio, of 35%, at £2.2 million, after a glowing assessment. It now has to reduce its touring weeks in cities in England—and, of course, ironically, Liverpool, where it has an enormous and loyal following. This is a real threat to the company. Glyndebourne has already been mentioned; the touring company is the one approach to opera which makes people who think that Glyndebourne is simply for the rich understand that it is there for them as well. Most people in Liverpool will not care whose decision this was. They will know only that the WNO has been taken away.

This is not levelling up—it is damage by design, and, like a clock which strikes 13, it questions the credibility of the Arts Council policy of cultural democracy. This is where the decision on ENO fits in; a decision which will drive this extraordinary opera company, with a unique social mission, to a cliff edge next March, with no future in London and an unviable and potentially unwelcome future in Manchester. I say unwelcome because, just as ENO had no warning, so Manchester has had no warning that this is being done. Manchester has its own plans and its own loyalties. I am inclined to think that Gilbert and Sullivan could have set all this to music.

One of the most baffling things to me is that the Arts Council, after so many years of thinking about this, seems to have lost confidence in its own instincts. Who can forget the powerful case that Darren Henley himself made in 2016 for the arts dividend? Cultural placemaking relies on two things: resilient and trusted local and national partnerships, and community engagement at a depth that is genuinely challenging. It takes years to break down the emotional and financial barriers of people who have never walked up the steps of a great museum or into a crowded foyer full of shouty people. That takes time and investment in schools, young people, families and community action. I know that, because I have done it with the support of the Welsh Government in Wales, over many years, through the Fusion programmes.

That levelling up is what ENO had achieved deliberately in London—a city of staggering inequality, with the highest rates of poverty in the UK and the lowest rates of cultural participation—growing a young audience for opera in ways in which could only be the envy of other opera companies. Such other companies have not given away 6,000 free tickets since September; have not grown a young audience, 50% of which is now under 30; and have not set up a highly innovative programme to help people suffering from Covid to breathe. What a waste, if that is all lost—to say nothing of a precious cargo of 350 skilled jobs and a loss of £6 million from cancelled shows. Where is the economics in that, let alone the ethics?

Many noble Lords, I am sure, will talk about the poverty of the process, the lack of transparency and the discourtesy, and the shock of being assured how well you are doing, only to be told how much you will be cut. I do not expect this from the Arts Council leadership. It creates in me a deep anxiety that this was perhaps not just a decision by the Arts Council. I have enormous respect for the Minister in question, but am I wrong to have suspicions that there was more than a ministerial eye on this decision?

My second question for the Minister is the one put by WNO and ENO. What did they do wrong, and when, and why were they not told? My third question is: how can trust and the future be salvaged for these opera companies now? Would the Minister agree with me that random and disproportionate cuts to opera are indefensible in the absence of a strategy for opera which seeks to optimise its benefits? I refer to all the benefits that we have heard about, and the many that I would love to talk about but do not have time. Will the Minister use his influence to secure with the Arts Council a strategic review of opera which looks at how best it can be supported so that it can thrive as an art form which belongs to everyone? Will he work with the Arts Council to give ENO space and time to develop a new model along the lines of the RSC, with a London base and a thriving base outside London?

Photo of Lord Foster of Bath Lord Foster of Bath Liberal Democrat 12:29, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Viscount on securing this debate and share very much his view on the importance to our national life and economy of the arts and the creative industries, on which I will concentrate. After all, their economic contribution alone is bigger than the oil, gas, aerospace, life sciences and automotive sectors combined.

I believe that any strategy to ensure that we sustain and build on successes to date must encompass many issues, from digital infrastructure and finance to intellectual property and skills. Your Lordships’ Communications and Digital Committee, on which I serve, is considering all these issues and will report early in the new year.

My fear is that there is complacency within the Government at the present time. In the Chancellor’s 17 November Statement, the creative industries were not one of the five areas for growth that he listed. Publication of the Government’s “sector vision” has been delayed, and there appears to be limited cross-departmental working to address the cross-cutting challenges faced by the sector. The DCMS alone cannot address all the challenges faced by the creative industries. For example, BEIS has oversight of the apprenticeship scheme, yet it is poorly designed for SMEs, which make up the majority of the creative sector; the DfE oversees careers advice in schools, which currently does little to promote the sector as offering exciting job opportunities; and the Home Office oversees an immigration process that hinders international collaboration and stopped the flow of talent from the EU previously used to help the sector.

Yet another department is responsible for local government. The LGA has just published its Cornerstones of Culture report, pointing out that councils are the biggest funders of culture nationally. They spend £2.4 billion a year in England alone on culture and related services, with benefits such as creating jobs, underpinning local economies, contributing to levelling up and supporting the creative industries. But local government funding is once more under threat.

The Treasury too has a crucial role. Current tax incentives for film, high-end TV, children’s TV and video games are of course welcome, supporting some parts of the creative industries, but no such fiscal incentive exists for the music industry—an omission that I hope will be rectified. The Treasury could do more. The creative industries rely heavily on freelancers, so the Treasury should amend the tax and benefit system to support them and widen the definition of R&D to include the sector.

Any sector vision or strategy must be the product of cross-departmental working. Can the Minister tell us what exactly is being done to improve cross-departmental working? How much discussion, for example, is his department having with the DfE about skills shortages within the sector and the way in which the school system is exacerbating those shortages? The 40% decline in GCSE entries in creative subjects over the past decade certainly does not help. That decline can be attributed to the way in which the Government undervalue such subjects, as demonstrated by their absence from the EBacc.

Last year, one of your Lordships’ committees concluded that the national curriculum, and the EBacc in particular, was

“too narrowly focused to ensure that it prepares all young people for the modern labour market and the essential, technical and creative skills it requires”.

Mr Robert Halfon is the new Minister of State in the DfE. In his previous role as chair of the Education Committee, he said that

“New Ministers have inherited an education system that is at odds with the demands of our modern economy.”

Now, as poacher turned gamekeeper, he says that there are no plans to change the EBacc. Will the Minister seek to change his mind?

The Minister’s own department also has many ways to support the creative industries. For example, it has responsibility for our public service broadcasters. Recent reports show just how important the PSBs are to the creative industries and to the levelling-up agenda, not least through the Creative Industries Clusters Programme. I hope that, in the light of the damage that it would do to all that, the Government will drop their plans to privatise Channel 4 and call off the dogs in their seeming desire to cut the BBC down to size. I certainly agree with Tim Davie, the BBC’s director-general, who said only yesterday that

The BBC is one of the most powerful and well recognised brands on the planet and we should be backing it.”

The lifeblood of the creative industries is intellectual property, and here too DCMS has responsibilities. The UK is rightly seen internationally as having a gold standard IP framework, which has enabled the UK’s creative industries to thrive. We weaken our IP laws at our peril—but we are in danger of taking just such a step. Following Brexit, the Government consulted on the future of the so-called IP exhaustion regime. Many of our creative industry exporters, fearing significant losses in income, expressed deep concern about making changes to the current arrangements. They breathed a sigh of relief when the Government concluded that there was insufficient data to make a decision and determined to maintain the status quo, at least for the time being. The resulting uncertainty does not help. Does the Minister agree that any final decision must deliver stability, and that the best way to achieve that is to make the interim decision permanent?

The Government also reviewed the text and data mining copyright exception and made an initial decision to widen it significantly. That would mean that businesses could scrape text and content created by others, repurpose it commercially without payment to the original creator, and, ironically, receive copyright protection for that new work. The creative industries reacted with universal dismay and the Government agreed to reconsider. During a recent Select Committee hearing, I asked the DCMS Minister Julia Lopez whether that reconsideration would lead to dropping the proposed change. She replied:

“I am fairly confident, in so far as I can say publicly, that this is not going to proceed.”

Will the Minister go one step further and give categorical assurance that no changes will be made to the exception?

During the pandemic, the then Government did much to support the creative industries and should be congratulated on that. My fear is that there is now a real danger that complacency is setting in and there will be a loss of focus on supporting a critical part of our economy, with different government departments leaving it to others to address the needs of the creative industries. I hope that I am proved wrong.

Photo of Baroness Wheatcroft Baroness Wheatcroft Crossbench 12:37, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for securing this debate. I am even more grateful to him—although I did not realise it at the time—for allowing me to say that it was in preparation for this debate that I found myself on Saturday night at the opera in Naples, where they take their opera very seriously. The performance of “Don Carlos” started at 7 pm and finished just before midnight. Opera does of course lift the soul—and at the moment one can do with that.

I take the opportunity to congratulate the extraordinary Wasfi Kani, who raised the money and built a new opera house, starting I think in 2017, for Grange Park. She had no public funding; she went knocking on doors and got the money. Through Pimlico Opera, she also takes opera into prisons, where it has an extraordinary effect on the inmates. I am not sure how musical they were when they started, but they are a lot better when they finish.

I should declare an interest as the chairman of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. I want to interpret this debate in the widest possible way, because the arts and creative industries operate in a holistic manner—they all feed off each other. Even the remarkable success of our video games industry depends on having people who can soak up what goes on in music, the arts and the creative world generally.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Foster, I congratulate the Government on what they did with funds such as the Culture Recovery Fund, in looking after our arts and culture during the period of the pandemic. But the problems remain. According to the Society of Independent Theatres, theatre ticket sales this year will be £845 million lower than they were before the pandemic. That is a lot of money if you are trying to run a theatre on a proper basis.

Classical music, in particular, is the real victim because it would appear that the older audience, who tend to be the ones who go to classical concerts, simply have not come back after the pandemic. There is a genuine threat to some orchestras, particularly in London, where we are blessed to have several, but also in the regions. So, I beg the Minister to contemplate what might be done to help the classical music industry.

That takes me on to the first of two specific points that I wish to raise. Classical music needs to have a new audience all the time, and that depends on music education. The noble Lord, Lord Foster, spoke about the need for education to include far more emphasis on the arts generally, and I echo that. Who knows a toddler who is not keen to draw all the time, often where they are not supposed to, or to make music? They love to, yet when they get to school, these two traits are not fostered. I commend the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Fleet, who is working hard to get more classical music, and music generally, into schools. But even though the Government have now adopted a strategy, it is measly—an hour of music a week in schools, and it is not part of the curriculum. It should be.

The Gulbenkian Foundation produced a report 40 years ago extolling the virtues of what the arts, and music in particular, could do for children, and thus for the economy in general. It was included in the first national curriculum in 1988. We have gone backwards, not forwards, and given that our creative industries are renowned and world-beating, we need to foster the talent that will feed them in the future. In particular, we need to foster a love of classical music, so that the audience will be there to continue to allow our orchestras to thrive.

My second point is about tourism, because we know that it is the arts and culture that bring tourists to this country. Overwhelmingly, when they are asked what they are here for, it is not the weather, the beaches or the sewage; it is the arts and the culture. But what are we doing to encourage tourism? Not nearly enough to encourage creative tourism. The OECD produced a report, several years ago now, in which it talked about the instant effect that concentrating on creative tourism could have:

“Integrating creative content with tourism experiences can add value by reaching new target groups, improving destination image and competitiveness, and supporting the growth of creative industries and creative exports … Developing creative tourism has implications for national tourism administration, regional tourism authorities and destination marketing.”

I absolutely agree, but we need our tourism organisations to actually start being creative and making the most of the creative industries. There are so many packages that could be offered to people interested in coming here, and they would support our creative industries.

Finally, I beg the Minister, as others have done on other occasions, to get the Government to reconsider their position on VAT for tourists. It is mad to deter people from coming here and to send them to Paris or Milan. Retailers have already been saying this, and my members in ALVA know their visitor numbers are down because tourists are being deflected because of VAT. In that brief moment when Kwasi Kwarteng was Chancellor, the VAT holiday for tourists was coming back; sadly, it vanished again. If the Minister could put in a plea, it would be really useful.

Photo of Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Lord Griffiths of Burry Port Labour 12:45, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I too must express my gratitude to my noble friend for allowing us to debate this very important issue. Mention has been made, lavish mention, of the opera as an art form and of lavish places where opera has been given to the people, even sometimes at marathon length. The night before last, I was present in Birmingham Town Hall to listen to some operatic singers. I am the patron of the Black British Classical Foundation, which seeks to find ways for artists of colour to enter the rarefied world of classical music. Five finalists in an awards evening were truly stunning in the range of material they sang, all ably supported by the phenomenal qualities of the Welsh National Opera orchestra. So, my recent experience has touched base with some of the things that have been said, but in a humbler and more demanding way for someone like myself, who is not naturally in tune with opera at all. I like the songs.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Foster—I call him my noble friend—I am a member of the Communications and Digital Select Committee, which is focusing on the creative industries aspect of this debate. It is said that this country is among the world leaders in the field of innovation and the technology that stands behind the creative industries, but one committee interviewee after another kept reminding us that we are in danger of losing our top spot because of developments in other countries and a fragmentation of support. That fragmentation is important to note. Lots of things happen, but in a very diverse and unconnected way. We have been promised throughout this calendar year, for example, the sector vision to which my noble friend referred. Again and again, and of course with a different Minister enunciating the delay each time, the sector vision has been put off. We are now promised that it will be issued early in 2023. Perhaps this debate should happen all over again when that sector vision report has been published; it will afford us material that we can look at in a co-ordinated way. All I hope is that when it is eventually published, it will meet the criterion set out in the original vision: to

“set out a vision for high-growth sectors and technologies where we are well-placed to develop a globally competitive advantage.”

That was said in March 2021, three Prime Ministers ago.

We have mentioned already the relationship between our education system and its formation of young people, and the skills shortage in the creative industries. Again and again, witnesses we spoke to at the Select Committee reminded us that the need for skills was paramount for the development of the sector. It is important, therefore, that there should be a co-ordinated effort between the world of education and meeting the needs of the workplace in the creative industries. That needs to be thought through in much greater depth, and I hope to see more evidence of that when the sector vision report eventually comes before us.

In 2018, the Arts and Humanities Research Council launched its creative industries clusters programme, which linked universities and businesses together to drive innovation. Witnesses have spoken to us of the huge success of this initiative; the committee was left scratching its collective head as to why the project, granted its evidential success, will last just five years and be wound up in 2023. Those operating and taking advantage of the clustering idea do not know how to set their budgets beyond that date. That uncertainty undermines their activity in general.

A few of us on the committee paid a visit some time ago to Cambridge. We went around the start-up companies and high-tech people there, who are doing fantastic things. I suppose that Cambridge is the nearest we have to Silicon Valley in this country; certainly, the energy, inputs and outputs were terrific. However, we were told in one place we visited that the normal critical path for a start-up is to bring the activity to a head at a point when it can be sold on to whoever will buy it—that is, to invest in the part of development that yields the possibility of success, but then to let someone else reap that success. We should be protecting those industries and allowing them to grow.

I am a great devotee of Professor Ha-Joon Chang, late of Cambridge University, who showed how South Korea and other countries like it grew their phenomenal industrial base because of government protection through the critical phases of growth. Once an industry can take off under its own steam, it must fend for itself. The Government need to pay more attention to the fact that some of the brilliant work being done in Cambridge and other places should be protected rather further and that the clustering idea should be extended beyond 2023.

Photo of Lord Aberdare Lord Aberdare Crossbench 12:52, 8 December 2022

My Lords, this is a timely and important debate. I congratulate the noble Viscount on obtaining it and on his powerful opening speech. Like many others, I shall focus on music.

A government strategy for the music sector might have been less necessary in the past, but it is much needed now. In 2019, the industry contributed £5.8 billion of gross value added to the UK economy, with exports worth £2.9 billion and 197,000 jobs supported. Of course, that is without taking any account of the industry’s incalculable value to health, quality of life, and the UK’s global reputation and soft power. All this was achieved without a specific strategy; it was driven by the skills, talent and entrepreneurship within the industry. Music is one of the UK’s great strengths, with world-class talent and expertise not just among musicians and performers but in all the technical supporting roles needed to support them.

Since 2019, the sector has been hit by a perfect storm of challenges, arising from Brexit, Covid and, most recently, rising energy and living costs. These not only reduce the industry’s economic contribution but make it harder to attract audiences when people are seeking to reduce spending. Ticket sales at music venues are down 28% since 2019. So there is a real need for government to be clear about its role in enabling the industry to return to its world-leading position as

“a true engine of growth in the UK”, in the words of the Secretary of State for DCMS, Michelle Donelan, last October, and in ensuring that the talents and skills which underpin its success are not lost.

That might avoid the kind of deeply unsatisfactory situation resulting from the recent Arts Council England proposed future funding allocations, which other noble Lords have mentioned. They remove all funding from the English National Opera and severely cut funds for other major, highly regarded and successful opera and music organisations, including the Welsh National Opera, the Glyndebourne touring opera and the Royal Opera House. These are all organisations with a national remit, providing top-quality music and opera to diverse audiences and in many cases touring to cities and regions that otherwise could not enjoy large-scale musical performance. This evening I shall go to a performance of Britten’s “Gloriana” at the ENO, the cast of which includes my godson, Charles Rice, in whose developing career the ENO has played a key part, as it has for so many other young artists. I am clearly far from alone in seeing the Arts Council allocations as the exact opposite of “levelling up”. The cuts seem arbitrary and lack any discernible consistency or direction—in other words, they lack a strategy.

One key element of a strategy should address the skills needed to maintain the value of the UK music sector. Many of these skills are in high demand from employers across numerous sectors, not just the arts. They include creativity, entrepreneurship, communication skills, teamwork and resilience. They are often termed “soft skills”, but they are far from soft for the businesses that need them.

Despite the Government’s good work in many aspects of education, the number of students taking formal music education has plummeted over the past decade, with declines of 31% in A-level music entries and of 17% for GCSEs. The alarming gap between independent and state schools is widening: 50% of privately educated children get sustained music tuition, but only 15% of state school pupils. It is surely time to rethink the focus on the EBacc and Progress 8 measures, which have had such a damaging impact on music education.

UK conservatoires are recognised world leaders. They play an essential role in maintaining the pipeline of talent and skills, and ensuring that they can continue to do so and attract top talent from abroad, both students and teachers, should be central to a strategy. The new national plan for music education is welcome, but the funding currently available will not be enough to implement its ambitions and there is insufficient emphasis on ensuring the availability of the music education workforce needed to deliver it—perhaps through restoring bursaries for training music teachers. Of course, one important way for young musicians to hone their skills and broaden their experience has traditionally been through touring and performing overseas, above all in Europe, so the sooner exchanges of this sort can be restored, the better.

I hope the Minister will say something about whether he expects public funding for the arts to remain at current levels. If not, there is surely a need for the Government to think about other ways of boosting funding, whether from fiscal incentives, as in other cultural sectors such as film and TV, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Foster, or by encouraging more individual giving. The Charities Aid Foundation’s latest UK Giving Report found that:

“Fewer people are giving—and those who do continue to give on a regular basis tend to be older.”

So there appears to be considerable scope for improvements in encouraging individual giving. What consideration are the Government giving to providing greater tax or other incentives for individuals to make donations to good causes, including the arts?

For all the reasons I have stated and more, an arts and creative sector strategy, including the music sector, is urgently needed to give clear guidance about the resources the Government expect to be able to commit to these sectors and their priorities in deciding how to allocate them. A proper strategy would play an important part in enabling the arts and cultural sector to rebuild the leading contribution to our economy and culture which it has shown it can deliver. It would also give the Arts Council a clear strategic framework in which to make decisions—the experience of the English National Opera and other bodies that have suffered arbitrary funding cuts shows just how not to go about this. I hope the Minister will confirm the Government’s intention to produce such a strategy with cross-departmental coverage, as demanded by the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and with a much shorter timescale than “in due course”.

Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour 12:59, 8 December 2022

My Lords, Arts Council England has a strategy, and a very good one, in its plan for 2020 to 2030, Let’s Create. It charts progress towards

“a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish, and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.”

Earlier this year, ACE also published Creative Health & Wellbeing, an excellent plan for how it will work within health and social care and encourage collaboration between the creative and health sectors.

The Government’s strategy, or lack of it, is a different matter. Everyone wants to see the historic imbalance between London and the regions redressed, but to do this without it being disruptive and upsetting needed a substantial increase in funding for the arts and culture. If provision were made for funding for London-based artistic endeavour to be held steady in real terms, and growth in the culture budget channelled into the regions, the correction could be achieved over a period without damage. Fiscal austerity for the arts is not needed to salvage our economy. The DCMS budget for the arts and culture is indiscernible in the national accounts.

Ministers should recognise that they cannot default and expect philanthropists and the lottery—let alone financially starved local government—to take the strain. It is hard for arts bodies in the poorer areas of the country to raise money from private sources. Lottery players are predominantly people on relatively low incomes facing the cost of living crisis. It would be both foolish and immoral for Ministers to assume that lottery players will bail out the arts economy. It is crucial to sustain it, and that is inescapably the responsibility of Ministers.

The rate of growth of the creative industries has far exceeded the anaemic growth rate of the overall economy over the last 20 years, but the Government should not take for granted that that will continue. They should actively back the creative industries with support in relation, for example, to availability of capital, digital infrastructure, rents and training. The Chancellor has identified five growth sectors that he proposes to support. Any rational industrial strategy must include the creative industries but, as the noble Lord, Lord Foster, observed, he has not done so.

No. 10 and the Home Office should abandon their belligerent attitudes to the European Union and, in a civilised and courteous way, negotiate a visa regime that supports creative individuals to move to and fro and creative organisations not to be hampered in working on the continent of Europe. Brexit absolutely should not mean cultural isolation.

We should value the arts for their emotional and spiritual significance but also for their benefits for health, community and economic progress. The arts and culture can be a driver for levelling up, as I have seen in chairing a current inquiry by the National Centre for Creative Health and the APPG on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. Our round table on the benefits of creativity for mental health and well-being focused on young people. The Horsfall, part of 42nd Street—a mental health charity in Manchester—is a creative space and gallery for people aged between 13 and 25. One young woman described how, in this non-medicalised environment, “the help comes really naturally”. Working with ceramics had provided the means to express herself in her own way. She said it had provided her with agency and the confidence to pursue other creative projects. Another said about coming to the Horsfall: “It was a life-changing moment”.

At our round table on creative health and health inequalities, David, a homeless man, told us: “For me it saved my life. Arts gave me that access to see the world differently and for the world to see me differently.” With the pandemic having exacerbated health inequalities, and with the cost of living crisis damaging health and well-being for so many, our witnesses emphasised the power of creativity to release individuals and communities into fruitful self-expression, confidence and achievement, and the power of communities to be creative and organise themselves.

In East Marsh, a deprived area of Grimsby, the community group East Marsh United has run a grass-roots arts project including a choir, a writing group, a library, a recording studio and a community garden created on wasteland, as well as music, theatre and storytelling events. Kelly told us about joining the creative writing group: “After battling with systems and getting let down for nine years, this amazing creative writing group gave me my voice back. Creativity helped me be part of a community, helped me to be heard.” Their work on creativity has energised and empowered the East Marsh community also to address issues of housing, crime, education and training. Our witnesses insisted—as many noble Lords have today—on the need to revive the arts in the school curriculum. Music lessons and drama clubs, they said, should be core and not a luxury.

The arts and culture can open the way to transformational improvement of health and well-being in deprived communities. Whether that happens on a larger scale will depend on two policy shifts. One will be a full recognition by the NHS that the new integrated care boards must form effective partnerships with local government and the voluntary and community sector, including arts and cultural organisations. Northumberland County Council sees investment in the arts and culture as crucial to improving health and prosperity. It is funding an “arts for well-being” co-ordinator post within the NHS integrated care system, with a view to embedding arts and cultural provision in health and social care.

The second policy shift will be radical decentralisation of power, as the Labour Party is promising. Devolution to Greater Manchester has already enabled the launch of its creative health strategy to harness the power of creativity, culture and heritage in addressing health inequalities. There must also be real devolution to local authorities, and they in their turn must devolve power to ward level, supporting local leaders to mobilise their communities in new hope, energy and achievement. If, as was once the case in our history, local authorities and mayors have power and resources to develop their own cultural strategies, we could see new cultural, social and economic flourishing in places that are now sadly depressed.

Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education) 1:07, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Viscount for initiating this debate. I cannot help but feel that we are in a strange situation when it appears that everyone agrees that art and creativity are both beneficial for our society and so important to our economy. There are wonderful studies proving their positive impact on mental health, with the World Health Organization finding that arts positively influence human well-being and mental health.

Creative industries are also commonly recognised as one of the driving forces of British soft power, which is especially important in today’s globalised world. In schools, it has been found that taking creative courses makes it easier for pupils to learn other subjects. Our public service broadcasters, one of the crown jewels of our democracy, were able to rise to prominence only thanks to the hard work of countless creative, artistic people. Even in strict economic terms, the creative industries are just so important to us. As the Library brief shows, in 2021 that sector alone contributed close to £109 billion to the UK economy. In other words, whichever aspect of the creative industries one chooses to look at, its importance and positive impact are immediately visible. The Government themselves acknowledge the significance of arts and creativity, as exemplified by the many speeches delivered by the noble Baroness, Lady Barran, in this very Chamber.

It beggars belief that this consensus on the importance of arts does not extend to the teaching of creative subjects, which forms the talent pipeline that sustains the creative industries. This is most clearly exemplified by the Government’s intention to see 90% of pupils studying the EBacc subject combination by 2025, which explicitly excludes any and all creative subjects. The results of this policy are already visible. For art and design, compared with 2021, the 2022 entries decreased by 1.8%; for drama, by 5.4%; for music, by 3.6%; for media, film and TV studies, by 3.3%; and for performing and expressive arts, by 6.1%. Previous years had already seen declining figures.

There is a real concern that the Government’s approach will result in creative subjects falling victim to a vicious circle, which would see the already alarming situation worsening further still, with fewer entries resulting in fewer students going on to FE and HE, and with fewer talented young people therefore entering the sector. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, funding per student has decreased by 9% over the last decade. This alarming figure, coupled with skyrocketing energy bills, is likely to force schools to sacrifice many of their artistic courses, prioritising the EBacc subjects on which they are evaluated. That is not merely a theoretical worst-case scenario but a very real process which, according to the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, is already under way.

It has been a common practice for the Government to dismiss any such warnings by referring the concerned party to the provisions made for music education. It is true that music is compulsory in all maintained schools between ages five and 14, and the recently published The Power of Music to Change Lives policy paper recommends that schools provide at least one hour of music lessons a week to every pupil and produce a music development plan. This, in combination with the reformed music hubs, is a welcome development, but it is far from enough. In practice, many academies and maintained schools struggle to provide quality music education, and some may be forced to resort to the bare minimum required to satisfy legal requirements. In March the noble Lord, Lord Lingfield, pointed out in this Chamber that only 12% of state schools have orchestras—I emphasise that figure—and I do not believe that this figure has drastically improved since. The number of music teachers in state schools is decreasing, while subjects such as drama and dance, which are not covered by similar legal requirements, are being given up altogether.

This means that, in practice, pupils from state-funded schools will find it increasingly difficult to develop their artistic abilities and creativity, resulting in an even greater chasm between state and independent schools, and, in consequence, between the privileged and the underprivileged. That discrepancy is already astronomical: the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre found that while only 7% of the English population was educated in the private sector, 38% of the wealthiest individuals in TV, film, and music, and 44% of our newspaper columnists attended such schools. Similar ratios can be found throughout the creative industry; the policy and evidence centre reports that out of 400,000 new jobs created in this sector between 2014 and 2020, less than 100 000—about 22%—went to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. In fact, the creative industry has been found to be among the most elitist, being dominated by the privileged to a similar extent as doctors and lawyers.

I do not see any possibility for levelling up without the Government addressing this crisis at the educational level by providing all pupils—regardless of their parents’ social status—with access to good-quality creative subjects which can let them express themselves, develop their artistic abilities, and improve their mental health and well-being. We must ensure that art and creativity do not become one of the luxuries available only to the rich, not only for the sake of those less privileged but for the good of our society. Art should be created by people from all backgrounds. Coming from Liverpool, I will remind your Lordships of four working-class lads who in the 1960s gave us some of the best music that this country and the world have known.

I realise that times are difficult and we all must make some concessions, but let me emphasise this once again: art and creative education is not something we can afford to neglect as a nation.

Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative 1:14, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I cannot attempt to share the love of the Beatles expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Storey, although I completely endorse what he said about the importance of creative subjects—music in particular—and how if you deprive young people of access to their visual and musical heritage, you are in fact sending them out into the world as two-dimensional creatures.

We are all very grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, not only for bringing this subject to your Lordships’ House today but for the manner in which he introduced the debate. I am just sorry that I am the sole Back-Bench representative of the Conservative Party able to take part in it. I have always felt that this is a subject where one has to cross party boundaries. One of the things that I have been most proud of in my now 52 years in Parliament is being one of the three who 48 years ago founded the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group—the others were Labour Members: Ted Graham, later Lord Graham of Edmonton, and Andrew Faulds. It still flourishes—I believe that some of your Lordships attended the Winslow Homer exhibition at the National Gallery this very morning.

I want to go back to the beginning of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos. He quoted Churchill and, as he did so, I thought of the most memorable, iconic photograph to come out of the war: the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral rising above the smoke of the Blitz. I am sure that all your Lordships have seen it or variations of it. It has symbolised just how much we depend on our heritage, and how, if that heritage is endangered, our very history and identity are endangered. We should be all the more conscious of that at the moment, as the history and identity of the brave Ukrainians is being endangered and in some cases pilfered and eradicated. That should underline how fortunate we are and what a task any Government have to create a cross-party accord and enthusiasm for defending and promoting our arts and our heritage.

I have the great good fortune to live in the cathedral city of Lincoln. I will not necessarily go all the way with Ruskin, who said that Lincoln Cathedral was worth any other two cathedrals in the country, but it is nevertheless one of the great buildings of Christendom. When I go across to listen to choral evensong, as I do virtually every day when I am at home, it seems that so much comes together: the glorious music, the wonderful building, and what a duty we have to maintain both—and it is very difficult to maintain both when it costs almost £100,000 a week to keep the cathedral open without replacing a single tile or engaging in any major restoration.

When I came into the House of Commons and we formed the all-party group, one of the things that we built on was a Bill that I had introduced in 1970 to allow state aid for historic churches. We have come a very long way since then. Churches are eligible for state aid; first, it was through the Historic Buildings Council, and then George Osborne, who has sometimes been maligned, set up that wonderful £40 million First World War fund for our cathedrals in 2014. As a result, a number which would have undoubtedly closed were able to remain open, and long may that be the case.

It is important that we recognise that the current problems, exacerbated by Covid, are different from but similar to the problems that have always threatened our heritage. There was a great exhibition in 1974 in the V&A—some of your Lordships may remember it—“The Destruction of the Country House”. As you looked at the pictures and heard the noises of demolition, you saw the hundreds of wonderful country houses that had been destroyed in the previous years of this century, very few of them by enemy action.

We have a priceless heritage, and it is our duty to maintain it. I understand that many people are very exercised by the recent decisions of the Arts Council. I share some of that concern, although I must be honest that I am glad that Lincoln came out of the settlement rather well. Our art gallery, the Usher, is now entirely secure. However, it is important that we maintain, everywhere in the country, a tradition of excellence and an opportunity to aspire. The one thing above all that we must never take away from our young people is a sense of their history and their identity, and the ability to hope. The real poor of the 21st century are those without hope. We have got to make sure that we share our built heritage, musical heritage and all the other aspects of the arts so that young people are able to aspire and hope. If this debate gives a little impetus to this, it will have achieved much, and we will all be ever in the debt of the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos.

Photo of Baroness Bull Baroness Bull Deputy Chairman of Committees 1:21, 8 December 2022

My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak today. I declare my long-term interest in the cultural sector, a place I have worked for much of my adult life, as well as my role chairing an advisory panel for the Government’s forthcoming cultural education plan.

I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Viscount on securing this important and timely debate. His title invites a number of approaches to an already broad sector; a sector that encompasses advertising, architecture, arts and culture, craft, design, fashion, games, music, publishing, TV and film. What unites these distinct industries is a shared critical dependency on creativity, skill and talent, and a shared potential to create jobs and wealth through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. This they have in common.

However, as individual subsectors, they differ significantly in their education and career pathways, structures, funding and business models, and potential for economic contribution and local placemaking. Any strategy for the creative industries will therefore require a shared vision and collaborative working between at least three departments—four, if you include the Department for Levelling Up—so I have a great deal of sympathy for the Minister, who stands alone at the Dispatch Box today.

It is this role in levelling up on which I want to focus my contribution. There is a lot of very strong evidence about the potential for arts, culture and heritage to help shape the place where we live and to generate direct and indirect benefits for local communities. The Reimagining Where We Live report from the DCMS Select Committee in the other place drew on this evidence to show how art, culture and the creative industries can help levelling up by supporting education, building local pride, generating jobs, and enhancing health and well-being. However, the report also noted

“pervasive and persistent barriers to cultural placemaking”, highlighting geographical disparities, poor levels of social mobility and inclusivity in the cultural sector, and skills shortages across the creative industries.

The issue of geographical disparity has been pushed into the spotlight once again following the recent Arts Council announcement of national portfolio organisations to 2026. If there are universal benefits to making, taking part in and enjoying arts and culture, as I passionately believe that there are, then few would argue with the principle that access to these opportunities should not be dependent on where you live. From this perspective, we should celebrate the 276 newly supported organisations in the ACE portfolio, which are doing excellent, high-quality work in new and different places and with different and diverse artists and communities. Their success is welcome and deserved.

The debate is not about the principle; it is about how—and it is not new. Christopher Gordon, David Powell and Peter Stark’s report, Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, brought the issue to wider attention, as those of us with long memories will know, in 2013, pointing then to the dilemma we face now: how to rebalance distribution of cultural funding without unbalancing a connected and complex sector with a historic footing in the capital city.

My view is that this rethinking should not have been demanded within the short timeframe of a single funding round. In doing so, the February directive from the then Culture Secretary gnawed at the fingers of the arm’s-length principle. Planning for such a fundamental shift requires a much longer horizon if it is to avoid destabilisation, particularly within a sector still recovering from the pandemic, and if it is to lead to sustainable and positive change that delivers for all communities across all parts of the UK.

The rebalancing report pointed to the often overlooked role of local authorities in cultural provision and called for greater join-up across local and national government, as well as more local involvement in decision-making. This is echoed in the Cornerstones of Culture report, mentioned already, which is published today by the Commission on Culture and Local Government, chaired by my noble friend Lady Young of Hornsey. This report highlights the £1.1 billion that local councils invest directly in cultural services every year and calls for closer collaboration between arm’s-length bodies, local and national government, cultural organisations and communities to safeguard the future of local cultural infrastructure and to deliver on its full potential for levelling up.

Its conclusions resonate strongly with those of the DCMS Select Committee, that levelling up will not work if it is top-down. Cultural strategies set at a local level, in partnership, can deliver vibrant cultural ecosystems that will create jobs, support health and well-being, enhance learning, open up opportunities for young people, support the growing creative industries, and ultimately make places in which people want to live, work and thrive. But both reports sound the same warning: this kind of success will follow only if those critical and persistent issues of geographic disparities, poor levels of social mobility and structural inclusion in the cultural sector, equitable access to cultural education and skills shortages in the creative industries are resolved.

As the noble Lord, Lord Foster, pointed out, this cuts across the remits of not only DCMS but DfE, BEIS, DLUHC and possibly the Cabinet Office too, given that it has the responsibility for social mobility. Can the Minister reassure the House that all these departments recognise their roles in the success of the cultural and creative industries, and understand the imperative to join up with local government and arm’s-length bodies, if the potential of arts, culture and the creative industries in levelling up is to be fully realised? DCMS has a pivotal role to play in convening and facilitating collaboration, but it cannot achieve this on its own.

Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour 1:28, 8 December 2022

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and I congratulate my noble friend Lord Chandos on securing this debate and introducing it so comprehensively and compellingly. I declare interests as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Opera and Arts and Heritage, and as a member of the APPGs for Classical Music and Theatre.

I recall the early days of the Arts Council, given great momentum by Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee in the 1960s. I recall, even longer ago, my mother taking me to see the Carl Rosa touring opera on its annual visit to Nottingham, where our nearest arts venue was, playing to a packed audience. North of the Wash, there has always been a great appetite for music, and the rare visits of the great performers were cherished. During the war, the Sadler’s Wells opera and ballet companies toured from Burnley, and the whole of the north-west provided enthusiastic audiences. After the realisation of the Arts Council, affordable public entertainment in my medium-sized Midlands city was transformed. We got a high-calibre theatre, financed to attract brilliant directors and more resident music, all playing to large audiences. To me, these wonderful new experiences were part of the welfare state. Culture is integral to social justice.

How could it not be? Art interprets our world. Sometimes it reconciles us with it. Sometimes it defines what we should not be reconciled with, and confers uplifting and exhilarating transformations of experience. Part of the remit of the Arts Council was always to get more culture out to the provinces—to level up, in fact. Jennie Lee was explicit about that. It is, after all, something of a Labour Party tradition. Clement Attlee, who set up the Arts Council, said that the three pillars of his manifesto were the basic human rights of health, education and culture—surely an essential gloss on eliminating want, idleness, squalor, ignorance and disease.

Why should this human need for the experience of art be confined to a select few? So-called high art is elite only because, over the centuries, it has become out of reach for many. As a consequence, many have thought it not for them. But in the time of Vivaldi, people played his tunes in the street. I have been in rickety little wooden opera houses in Italy where people sang along to the choruses of Bellini, although, admittedly, I never heard that in the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.

The estimable chair of the Arts Council, Sir Nick Serota, steered high-quality work out of London, as well as continuing the tradition of both enabling London to broaden its “centre of excellence” role for the arts and producing offshoots of equal quality outside it. He arranged support for several initiatives in my present hometown of Newhaven but there was no dumbing down. Surely that is the secret of proper devolution of the arts outside London.

That brings me to the present settlement. There is an inherent problem in achieving nationwide the high standards that we as a nation can well produce without the seedbed power of the great established centres. We should remember that the very successful Opera North sprang from the English National Opera and that London theatres have fostered out-of-London offshoots. We need to nurture our centres of excellence, not least to send out talent to create other centres. The BBC and Channel 4 have played a pivotal role in this development.

This is not simply a philanthropic exercise. As noble Lords have said, and as the excellent Library briefing sets out, our creative industries contribute a sizeable part of our national income. Growth there has been higher than across the economy as a whole since the pandemic and the sector had a faster recovery. The UK is the fifth-biggest exporter of creative services. Their economic effect goes hand in hand with their social impact on well-being, mental health, enlightenment and simple enjoyment.

I hope that we can consider different ways of funding the vital dynamic of arts development—perhaps more that do not depend on divvying up a finite sum of money, thus creating losers and subjecting even some of the winners to short-term budgetary constraints, through fiscal measures such as increased and more widespread tax reliefs. In this way, there could be incentives for growth rather than cuts.

In short, we need to recognise that the arts and the creative sector in general should be acknowledged—unlike in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, as my noble friend Lord Howarth and the noble Lord, Lord Foster, who is not in his place, observed—as a unique national asset and one of the best sectors for growth, and should be seed-funded and incentivised accordingly. Our arts strategy must review its mission on and implementation of these principles. The dialogue about national venues and timescales, announced in this morning’s Select Committee hearing by Arts Council England’s CEO, Darren Henley, must continue. Does the Minister, in his lonely state as the second Conservative speaker, agree?

Photo of Viscount Stansgate Viscount Stansgate Labour 1:35, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I am pleased to take part today and make a brief contribution. I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Chandos for securing the debate and for the way in which he introduced it; I acknowledge all the expertise that he brings to bear. Of course, the same is true for so many other speakers in this debate. Before I begin, I ought to declare my interests; I have decided on two. First, I am the president of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. Secondly, tonight, I hope to be able to go and see a live Royal Ballet production that will be streamed to a cinema—one of the ways in which ballet and opera are being made more accessible throughout the country, which is a very good thing.

I rise today to make two points. First, as has been said by everybody so far and doubtless will be said throughout the rest of the debate, the importance of the arts and the creative industries to the UK simply cannot be overestimated. Whichever way you look at it, economically or in terms of soft power, the UK is an astonishingly creative country and intellectual property lies at the heart of it. Of course, thanks to the helpful Library briefing, the House will be aware of the DCMS statistics showing that the creative industries sector has contributed around £109 billion to the UK economy; that is a large sum by any standard. The largest subsector in the creative industries, listed as IT, software and computer services, accounted for 2.3% of the UK economy in 2021. Since then, overall employment in the country has fallen but, in that subsector, it has in fact increased by around 5.1%.

However, far too often in this country an artificial dividing line is drawn between the arts and the sciences. In reality, so many of today’s creative industries straddle that divide and render it meaningless in any real sense. The arts and creative industries encompass, and in some cases rely hugely on, the creative sciences in which the UK excels in many areas.

I will take the example of video games, which the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, has already mentioned. The video games industry alone depends on people having mathematical and coding skills to a very high degree. Now let us consider the other aspects involved, such as architecture, design and imaginative storytelling—not to mention the music. Those who listen to Classic FM will know that, in recent years, music generated for video games has increasingly played a part in its “Top 300 of the Year”.

Noble Lords will know that, in 1959, the novelist CP Snow gave a lecture entitled “The Two Cultures”, later published in book form as The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. My noble friend Lord Chandos quoted Churchill; other people have referred to him. I am going to quote a brief extract from a lecture that CP Snow gave only 21 years later. His thesis was that science and the humanities, which represented

“the intellectual life of the whole of western society”, had become split into “two cultures”, and that this division was a major handicap to both in solving the world’s problems. People know this phrase but often do not know the actual argument that he used. He said:

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s? I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question—such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read?—not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language.”

One of the reasons why that phrase, “two cultures”, has persisted down the decades is because it has struck a nerve. I know that your Lordships’ Communications and Digital Committee is conducting an inquiry into the UK’s creative industries, and I look forward to its result, but I hope it will also recognise the role, contribution and creativity of the science sector.

Secondly, we should never forget that one of the attractions of the UK as a place to do science is that it also offers unrivalled artistic and cultural experiences and heritage. Do noble Lords imagine that scientists are somehow different from everybody else—that the enormous artistic and cultural attractions of the UK do not play a part in encouraging them to come here to do their research? Of course, funding and the huge international links on offer are very important factors, but when eminent scientists decide where to live and work, the arts and culture of a country are a key factor in their decisions, and the UK has traditionally had that pull in spades. We benefit enormously from their presence here, and it is for this reason too, in part, that the present paralysis over the UK’s future participation in Horizon Europe is such a tragedy.

I will add just one thing in view of the briefings we have had about music. The Government should seek to reach an agreement with the EU to allow young musicians and youth orchestras to tour Europe and vice versa, because the collapse of such opportunities is another tragedy of Brexit.

In conclusion, we need to think of this whole area in a slightly different way. We should regard the strategy needed, as outlined in the Motion before us today, as being as important to our science base as to the arts and creative industries as traditionally defined. This is an opportunity to bring these two cultures together—the arts and sciences—as two sides of the same coin, feeding and stimulating each other for all our benefit. On this occasion, I rather wish that we had two Ministers winding up: the Minister we have in front of us, and perhaps the Minister for Science. However, I recognise that we have just the one, so I look forward very much to what he has to say.

Photo of Lord Shipley Lord Shipley Liberal Democrat 1:42, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, for initiating this important debate and giving us the opportunity to discuss a range of issues. I say at the outset that I want to be very positive about the Arts Council, given the progress it is making in trying to address levelling up.

The last 20 years or so have seen a cultural renaissance of Tyneside. It was an exciting time for me personally, as a council leader and a board member of a development agency, working with so many talented people in delivering a vision, for it was levelling up in action. Today, the buildings, programmes and outreach work are in place for the long term, although generating enough money is always a problem. All of this is evidence that delivering a strategy requires buildings, funding and enterprising people with vision who can make things happen for the long term. Cultural investment in places can have a profound impact. In our case, it has attracted inward investment from new industries and many more international students to our universities, and we have many more tourists and have become a thriving short break destination.

I mentioned the Arts Council and levelling up. As an example of what can be achieved, let me talk briefly about Sage Gateshead, which is so good at skills development, access and inclusion, though its resources are also very tight. It has one of the largest creative learning programmes in the UK, with very large numbers of adults attending music classes. There have been over 70,000 attendances at classes or workshops in the last year by participants aged four to 19. There is, for example, In Harmony Newcastle Gateshead, an immersive orchestral music programme based in two primary schools in the west end of Newcastle, working with local partners; and the Young Musicians Programme, offering introductory sessions up to advanced training, which served 300 children and young people each weekend through term time in 2021-22. We should note that 75% of Centre for Advanced Training students receive a bursary. This is important—as my noble friend Lady Hamwee would have said, had she been able to take part in the debate—to meet their travel costs, which can often be substantial.

The national plan for music education, which was debated recently in this Chamber, is to be strongly welcomed. As its title says, music has the power to change lives. It says that music education is

“an essential part of a broad and ambitious curriculum for all pupils”, and it draws attention to the vital importance of every child having access to a musical instrument and personal support on digital music platforms.

This is all excellent, but it takes me to last year’s report by the Youth Unemployment Committee, which I had the privilege of chairing. A number of references have been made in this debate to that report, so I hope noble Lords will forgive me for expanding on them. The committee said that

“young people, school leaders and employers agree”— this is from the evidence they gave us—

“that young people do not have the essential skills needed for work by the time they leave the school gates.”

As Youth Employment UK told us, there are not enough options for digital, computing, design and technology and creative subjects within the core curriculum, despite these being growth and in-demand areas. The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and the Centre for Cultural Value said that arts education should be a statutory part of curricula to meet the challenge of skills and training shortages in that sector. We have heard a lot of evidence in the Chamber today about the importance of this.

Other figures have been used, but let me cite some more. At GCSE level, entries in the performing arts were down by 41% from 2017 to 2021, while entries in music fell by 9%. Between 2010 and 2020, there was a 70% decline in GCSE entries in design and technology and a 40% decline in GCSE entries in creative subjects, yet we were told that design and technology was “thriving” in the private sector, with parents seeing it as an “essential subject”—as they did, in fact, with all creative subjects.

We concluded that the national curriculum

“is too narrowly focused to ensure that it prepares all young people for the modern labour market and the essential, technical and creative skills it requires, in particular for the creative, green and digital sectors. These views were shared by employers and young people alike.”

I submit to the Minister that it is time they were shared by His Majesty’s Government.

Photo of Lord Leong Lord Leong Labour 1:48, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend Lord Chandos and your Lordships’ House for my delayed arrival for the debate. I am grateful for the understanding shown to me on this occasion. I warmly congratulate my noble friend Lord Chandos on securing this debate, and I declare my interests as set out in the register.

As I listen to these excellent contributions, I am reminded of just how important the creative industries are to all aspects of our lives. We must never forget the many ways in which the creative sector enriches us through connection, escapism, solace, joy, insight into new worlds—real and imagined—and almost unlimited opportunities to expand our knowledge and understanding of the world.

Let us also remember that behind all the famous actors, musicians, writers, composers, artists and architects are hundreds of thousands of talented and passionate people who build, design, administrate, program, publicise and use any number of skills to realise a staggering range of creative experiences—each one contributing to an industry worth £116 billion to the UK economy.

I worked for many years in publishing, a sector that not only constitutes around £6.7 billion of this figure but is often a foundation for other areas of the creative industries. Harry Potter, for example, started as a series of novels and expanded into a £4 billion industry encompassing film, television, theatre and tourism. In fact, such is the power of this creative endeavour that, as a relative newcomer to this Chamber, I sometimes need to remind myself that I am not actually in Hogwarts.

The UK publishing sector supports 70,000 jobs across all regions of the country and exports more books than any other nation—flying the flag for British culture and language across the world, generating £3.8 billion in exports and reducing the UK’s trade deficit by 2.2%. One of the reasons for the success of British publishing is the UK’s gold-standard copyright and intellectual property regime, which ensures that creators are paid for their efforts and can continue creating. To retain our position as a global leader, we must ensure that this regime is protected by legislation that is fit for the challenges of the digital age.

I draw your Lordships’ attention to two important current issues: copyright exhaustion, and text and data mining. Currently, the UK’s copyright exhaustion regime prevents the unauthorised parallel import of international copies of books to the UK. This prevents wholesalers undercutting domestic sales by selling books tailored and priced for foreign markets. However, last year the Intellectual Property Office consulted on moving to an international exhaustion regime, which could lead to a loss of almost a third of the UK publishing sector’s total value, some £2.2 billion. Although the Government concluded that there was insufficient evidence to change the current regime—to a collective sigh of relief from all readers, authors, publishers and other creatives—the IPO has not yet announced its final decision. I urge the Minister and other noble Lords to call for the IPO to retain the current gold-standard regime, and not put thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of UK exports in danger and risk reducing the variety and quality of books available to British readers.

The second issue of concern is around text and data mining of digital content. Millions of people engage with authors’ work through screens and laptops rather than the printed page. UK publishers support innovation in artificial intelligence by licensing their research and datasets for text and data mining, which ensures that publishers and other rights holders are paid fairly for the use of their work. However, the IPO has proposed the introduction of a blanket copyright exception for text and data mining for any purpose. Under this proposal, tech firms could use machine learning to copy and monetise any UK-licensed creative content. In other words, having paid for the content just once, there would be nothing to prevent firms distributing this content potentially to millions of others. Depriving the original creators and rights holders of their income would self-evidently have terrible implications across the whole creative economy. Moreover, it would put the UK significantly out of step with similar creative economies and undermine investment in the content that innovative AI companies seek.

A broad coalition of professionals, from news publishing to music, and from magazines to photos, have called on the Government to reconsider these IPO proposals as a matter of urgency. I ask the Minister to join me in opposing both these proposals from the IPO, so that we safeguard the incredible creativity and innovation of our world-leading publishing sector and look forward to the enrichment, education and entertainment that it will bring to millions of lives in years to come.

Photo of Lord Londesborough Lord Londesborough Crossbench 1:55, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I too thank the noble Viscount for securing this debate at such a critical time for the arts and creative industries in the UK, as we head into a recession, perhaps followed by years of low growth. As we know, Governments often suffer what I call a macrotemptation to cut support for the arts and creative sectors when money is tight, as it undoubtedly is, in the mistaken belief that it makes sound economic sense—and never mind the cultural implications.

It was especially disappointing to see the Government’s sector vision for the creative industries being delayed yet again and the new Chancellor not including this dynamic sector as one of the five priority areas for growth. I find that strange because, cultural issues to one side, there is a compelling economic argument for prioritising the creative industries. I will focus on the business arguments. I do this having worked as an entrepreneur in this sector for 30 years. I declare that I am an active investor in theatre, film and online information—and still bear the scars to prove it.

First, we need a discriminating rather than flat approach to economic growth, which means identifying sectors where GDP growth is above the national average and, crucially, where there is considerable scope for future growth. As we have already heard, the creative industries contributed £116 billion to the UK economy in 2020. Importantly, that is an average 4% per annum growth over the last decade, whereas the economy in general struggled to reach 2%.

Secondly, when domestic demand is weak, as it is, we need export-led growth. The UK creative sector generated $57 billion in exports in the pandemic year of 2020—the fifth-largest such exporter in the world. There is clearly an appetite for UK content overseas and the weak pound makes this an even bigger opportunity, especially outside Europe. We need to grasp it.

Thirdly, productivity is the only realistic way we can generate economic growth, given demographic trends and our shrinking workforce. The technological enablement and digitisation of content has led to some hugely important productivity gains. I witnessed this first-hand over the last 30 years as a journalist turned publisher: first, it was desktop publishing transforming laborious editorial and typesetting practices; then the internet came along, which forced us to digitise our content and become a real-time online information provider, rather than a staid print publisher delivering reports by airmail across the world. The digital revolution is not just about speed and productivity; it allows content producers to reach audiences across the world at a fraction of the cost and, of course, to boost export revenues. The BBC is a good example.

It is often overlooked that the creative sector now employs more than 2 million people across the UK. An increasing proportion of that number are technical and scientific staff—a vital subsector. We have an exciting fusion, known as createch, between the content creators and those who structure and engineer, or write or promote code through multimedia channels, yet this growing intersection between creative skills and technology is in spite of, not because of, our stubborn, rigid approach to education, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, just highlighted. We see it at schools with A-levels and universities at degree level, dividing pupils between the arts and the sciences. This in no way reflects the real world. I believe it was a young James Dyson, the British inventor, who after much agonising opted to go to art school, and received a letter of condolence from his headmaster. We need much stronger links between universities and businesses in the creative industries, to drive innovation and indeed make courses much more relevant to careers in this sector. Media studies, take note.

Given the limits on time, I shall finish by making three quick observations to the Minister. The first is on freelancers: a huge number of the 2 million people are freelance and therefore self-employed. I should declare that my daughter is one of them. Please can we stop discriminating against them? The furlough scheme and the flawed off-payroll working rules are two cases in point. They deserve our support for creating their own jobs, showing flexibility at the price of job security, and for being paid on results, unlike many other permanent jobs I could mention.

Secondly, on tax relief, yes, national finances are incredibly tight at the moment, but if we want to boost productivity and innovation in this country, now is surely not the time to slash R&D tax credits for the creative sector.

Finally, I have a word on levelling up. As my noble friend Lady Bull points out, it is formidably difficult to balance the desire to spread opportunities geographically and maintain our national cultural icons which, as in other countries, tend to be concentrated around capital cities. But in the interest of balance I, like many other noble Lords today, question the wisdom of the Arts Council axing entirely its grants for institutions such as the ENO, the Barbican and the Donmar.

Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 2:02, 8 December 2022

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Chandos, in securing this debate and introducing it so powerfully, has unleashed a range of comments and expertise in the last two hours which are quite formidable to follow. What is left to say? Well, not much, but I am going to plough on anyway.

Given the breadth and economic significance of the creative industries, it is absolutely clear that a robust strategy for defending and developing them is crucial, as many noble Lords have made clear in the debate today. I underline the comments that have come from so many people about the vital contribution that the education system has to make to sustain those industries. At the moment, we are not doing well enough in that area.

I want to focus a bit more on one small—in financial terms—but absolutely vital part of the strategic network or jigsaw: government support for the arts via the Arts Council. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, I have been around this subject many times in a long career: I chaired a peer review of Arts Council England for DCMS in 2005 and subsequently wrote a report commissioned by the Arts Council itself following its funding decisions in 2008, which were highly controversial, and again after its funding round in 2011, when the outcomes were less contested. I have also been involved for decades in organisations in receipt of Arts Council funding, in both executive and non-executive roles. I say this to declare a long-standing interest, in both senses, but also to apologise for the slightly weary tone that may creep into my remarks, because I have been here before. Checking what I wrote in 2008, for example, I find that sadly some of it applies just as pertinently today.

That said, and for the avoidance of doubt, I have always been, and remain, a committed supporter of the Arts Council model, at the heart of which lie the two main principles that animated its founders in 1948: first, that the arts are a public good from which everyone benefits and which should therefore receive public support; and secondly that the funds allocated to the arts by the Government should be administered at arm’s-length from government, through a body making independent decisions about exactly where and with whom money should be invested. These principles have frequently been troublesome to Governments of all complexions but, even though our cultural landscape is much changed since 1948, they are still worth defending. I fear that both are now under serious threat.

Earlier this year, I observed at close quarters the process that all organisations seeking membership of Arts Council England’s national portfolio—whether large or small, new applicants or long-standing clients, and no matter what quantum of funding they were seeking—had to go through. Everybody I spoke to about it, from the largest to the smallest, found it exhausting and frustrating, at a time of enormous pressure and great anxiety post pandemic. I understand how difficult it is to design a system that works fairly across the board, but this attempt seemed to be unacceptably stressful for everyone, whatever the eventual outcome for individual organisations. Among its most troubling complexities were indeed the special requirements placed on organisations based in London.

To be clear, I think that a lot of the decisions that Arts Council England eventually made, with increased emphasis on diversity, inclusion and regional spread, were excellent. It was inevitable there would be winners and losers: there always are. However, the way the process was designed and managed, and how decisions were communicated, both to clients and to the wider world, left a great deal to be desired and exposed Arts Council England once again to legitimate challenge. So it was very concerning when, faced with considerable dismay as the new portfolio was revealed last month, Arts Council England began to refer to having received instructions from the then Secretary of State, which were subsequently prayed in aid to justify some of the more controversial decisions.

Does the Minister believe that this is an accurate reflection of what happened? If so, does he think it appropriate that a Secretary of State should instruct an arm’s-length body? Governments for decades have relied on asserting that such bodies make choices independently and should be accountable for them. How can that be a defensible position if those bodies are in fact acting under instruction? Apart from its inherent dishonesty, that position leaves the Government open to direct lobbying from aggrieved parties who understandably question the integrity of the decision-making process.

The Minister knows that I respect his personal commitment to his role, and I am glad to see him back in it. I hope he will be able to say whether the Government still support the founding tenets I referred to earlier: the arts as a public good and an arm’s-length principle for distribution of funds. I suspect that he will say that the Government are committed to both—I hope he will—but perhaps he will agree that the ongoing disquiet, with questions asked about process and nobody quite taking responsibility for controversial decisions, undermines that commitment and does no favours to the arts sector, the Arts Council or the Government, and distracts from the really important wider issues which are the subject of this debate.

Photo of Baroness Crawley Baroness Crawley Labour 2:08, 8 December 2022

My Lords, it is a delight to follow my noble friend and her very prescient questions to the Minister. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Chandos on securing this crucial debate, and on his extremely strong opening, especially his reference to the battle for the survival of Ukraine and the survival of its cultural soul. I will be brief, as we all want to hear the Minister and I am very aware that I am surrounded by people who know a lot more about the arts than I do.

Many of us witnessed sparkly fairies roaming the Committee Corridor recently. It was not a new special committee; it was members of English National Opera dressed up to lobby parliamentarians on the Arts Council’s pre-Christmas surprise for it: move out or no more money. Even if you think that London gets far more than its fair share of the national arts budget, what a way to consult, as my noble friend Lady Andrews said. ENO reaches so many of the targets set for it, such as creating a far more diverse audience, cheaper and free tickets, and attracting a younger following, which is so important for the future of the arts. None of it seemed to be enough to convince Arts Council England in the case of ENO.

As a patron of a very small, community-based youth orchestra in London, Musico Musica, I see first-hand how important it is for young musicians and their skills development to have access to the outreach work of major cultural institutions, such as ENO, whether those institutions are in London, Bristol, Manchester or Cardiff. I am not convinced that a Government so keen on centres of excellence within the NHS see that policy transferred to the arts. Perhaps the Minister will convince me otherwise.

Fair access across the country to creative arts has been Labour policy since for ever, as my noble friend Lady Whitaker said, long before the current tendency to put together “levelling” and “up” so frequently. I was one of several chairs of regional cultural consortiums in the early noughties, under the last Labour Government, whose aim was to promote and attract inward investment into the regions for the arts. Labour has this week reaffirmed its commitments to the nations and the regions as a future Government.

The performing arts sector alone, such as theatres, concerts, live music, creative arts and writers, contributed more than £8 billion in gross value added to the UK economy in 2021, according to the ONS. These sectors supported more than 100,000 jobs in 2021. These are major growth providers. But if we take the music industry in 2021, according to UK Music, an umbrella organisation, it contributed £4 billion to the economy in gross value added terms, down 31% on the £5.8 billion it contributed in 2019, pre-pandemic. UK Music assesses that Brexit-related barriers, alongside a lack of international touring, has restricted export recovery after the pandemic.

So we come to the present difficulties faced by all touring British artists, who, as a result of Brexit, can no longer work and tour completely freely across the European Union. The lack of specific provisions in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement means that UK performers have to comply with regulations in each and every one of the 27 EU member states, often with different sanctions within each of those regulations. Transport of equipment for tours has to comply with customs regulations set out in the TCA. As a result of leaving the customs union and the single market, UK touring artists face administrative hurdles and costs that they should not be facing. Although the guidance from the Government this summer on dual registration for specialist events hauliers was welcome, it does not answer the problems of artists using medium-sized hauliers or of orchestras with their own purpose-built vehicles. What a tangled web we weave when first we exit from the EU, as Sir Walter Scott might or might not have said. An EU-wide waiver from the TCA for creative industries has been called for, and the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, of which I am a member, has also raised the issue of cultural exemptions for touring artists.

We are in a serious pickle and our wonderful musicians and performers are paying the price. What further plans do the Government have to assist touring artists? Their creativity, their freedom and their earning capacity are being hobbled and it is not good enough for a country with a cultural heritage such as ours. The creative industries are a major driver of our economic growth and economic future. The Government’s new strategy for the arts has been delayed far too long, as many speakers have said. When will we see it?

Photo of Baroness Featherstone Baroness Featherstone Liberal Democrat 2:15, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, on bringing the debate and opening it so powerfully, and all noble Lords across the House for making a case for a strategy so ably. As always with regard to the creative sector, the most compelling, knowledgeable, logical and irrefutable arguments have been made by noble Lords across this House about the imperative for the Government to elevate creativity and the creative sector in their priorities for growth and levelling up.

Judging by the actions, not words, of this Government, the opposite is sadly true, as evidenced by a long list: 13 Secretaries of State in DCMS in as many years; the lack of cross-departmental working; the omission of arts in the EBacc; the reduction of university creative courses; the lack of protection for our creatives in negotiating Brexit; the focus on STEM not STEAM; the omission of the creative sector as one of the five priorities for growth in the Autumn Statement; the alleged interference by the Government in Arts Council funding; the delayed sector vision; and the lack of a strategy, which this debate rightly calls for.

Even the ex-but-one Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, opined:

“You know, sometimes I don’t understand what’s wrong with us. This is just about the most creative and imaginative country on earth—and yet sometimes we just don’t seem to have the gumption to exploit our intellectual property.”

It is a shame he never put his money where his mouth is. He did not have the gumption, and sadly I fear that Rishi Sunak appears to be in the same vein. He did manage to use the word “innovation” a few times, but seemingly without understanding what that actually means when it comes to investing in the creativity of our country, economic success, vision, originality and well-being. There is not only a compelling case for a strategy but a desperate need for one. Given the trouble the Government are in and our quest for growth, this is a lifebelt they really ought to grasp.

I have said before to this Government—in fact, from here, this time last year in the debate on the same subject, when the Liberal Democrats brought forward this issue; if some of my words seem familiar, it is because they are—that the following would be a good start for a creative strategy. We should get the barriers out of the way to trading and working with the EU, as we have just heard from the noble Baroness. We should educate our children properly and stop treating creative subjects like second-class citizens. We should respect and capitalise on the creative sector.

We should support and encourage our broadcast companies and recognise their irreplaceable value as the second-largest exporter of television programmes and formats in the world. We should support the BBC rather than undermining it and stop trying to sell off Channel 4. We should feed the ecosystem that spawns new and emerging talent, as well as being financially successful. We should ensure that broadcasters have continuing access to European platforms.

We should invest equally in STEM and STEAM. We should fight for rights for intellectual property. We should recognise the part played by creative courses in the innovation economy, ensuring that policies are retained and enhanced. We should support the freelancers, sole traders, part-timers and those with a portfolio of roles who people the creative industries, and ensure that the tax and welfare systems support them to thrive and earn well.

We should understand the contribution the advertising industry makes to our economy and how much of that relies on creatives. We should intensify and strengthen our creative core by promoting creative subjects in schools, further education and university. We should ask Ofsted to monitor the curriculum so that no school can easily drop music, art and drama. We should encourage institutions and businesses to collaborate with schools to provide cultural education and offer high-quality careers advice. We should make sure that high-quality apprenticeships are offered in the creative and digital industries, and get a grip on the pathways needed for screen skills.

We should promote the value of live events in small and large public venues, regional theatres, local halls and festivals across the country, and much more. Look at our gaming industry, which has been mentioned by many noble Lords. Look at the streamers streaming in; at our BBC, our designers, our musicians and so on. We in this country have a unique ability to create, to bring forward the new and produce the brilliant. Sadly, our innovators get snapped up by other countries, which put their investment into creative education. Look at Singapore; look at China.

We have heard from all parts of this House that the Government need to turbocharge their level of commitment to the creative sector. The low esteem in which creativity is held by this Government is unbearable, insulting and, more than that, plain stupid. The Secretary of State said the following in a letter to the Office for Students:

“Courses that are not among the Government’s strategic priorities—covering subjects in music, dance, drama and performing arts: art and design, media studies and archology are to be subject to a reduction of 50%”

That contempt was again on display in the way the Government negotiated Brexit. Just take music, for example. Our music industry, as has been said, contributed £5.8 billion to the economy in 2019. Brexit completely undermined our touring musicians and performers, but no thought was even given to that during the negotiations. I could go on and on—indeed, I am—but the point I am trying to drive home is that the Government have signalled clearly, at home and to the world, that the UK creative sector is not a priority and not important.

As several contributors have mentioned, the current inquiry of the Communications and Digital Committee, which will report shortly on our inquiry into the creative industry, has done excellent work under the stewardship of the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell of Beeston, on this very issue. We have looked across the world and at the digital world ahead, and I have no doubt we will conclude that the vision, understanding, promotion and priority that the Government give to the creative sector is lacking.

Creativity is our secret weapon, our soft-power success. My noble friend Lord Foster of Bath pointed out that the creative sector’s economic contribution to our economy is bigger than that of the oil, gas, aerospace, life sciences and automotive sectors combined. That is enormous. How crazy it is that the various departments that bear responsibility for parts of that agenda have such poor cross-departmental working.

My noble friend Lord Storey highlighted that the Government expect 90% of students to do an EBacc, which means there will be almost no one studying the arts. My noble friend Lord Shipley emphasised how crucial school education and the national curriculum are to cultural subjects.

A number of companies and organisations have been fathoming out our future requirements. McKinsey’s 2018 report, Automation and the Workforce of the Future, demonstrated that creativity, critical thinking, decision-making and complex information processing are going to grow in coming years, from an already high base. According to Realizing 2030: a Divided Vision of the Future, a report by Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future of Jobs, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not even been invented yet, while 56% of business leaders say that schools will need to teach how to learn rather than what to learn, in order to prepare for that.

This is a critical moment of both opportunity and necessity to build back better and level up by using the talents of the most precious commodity we have: our human capital, our unique and original thinkers. However, it is also the moment of greatest jeopardy, because, if the Government fail to heed the wise words in this debate, they cannot deliver.

Photo of Lord Bassam of Brighton Lord Bassam of Brighton Shadow Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and International Trade) 2:24, 8 December 2022

My Lords, I draw attention to my interests as set out in the register as a trustee of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust in Brighton and a trustee of the People’s History Museum.

I join in the general congratulations to my noble friend Lord Chandos on securing this important debate, which, as a number of Members have noted today, is extremely timely, given that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Featherstone, has just made clear, we are at something of a crossroads in government policy. I liked the way my noble friend neatly invoked Churchill’s being in favour of the arts during a time of national crisis; I think we are at that point, and my noble friend was right to do so.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh alluded to, this is an extremely broad debate about a sector, the arts and creative industries, that is broad in its extent and impact. As the title of the debate highlights, and as outlined in the very helpful Library briefing, the UK, as many noble Lords have mentioned today, is a world leader in the arts and creative industries. Many of our cultural institutions are the envy of the world. We are one of the largest exporters of creative goods and services, and British TV, film, music and video games are enjoyed across the globe.

The economic benefits of the creative sectors have been cited throughout the debate but are worth repeating: a £110 billion-plus contribution to the national economy, the direct creation of more than 2 million jobs, and support for the associated jobs in supply chains. Perhaps it is timely to remind the House of the BBC’s role, which makes for a case study. The role of the BBC in generating cultural investment is very much at the heart of our creative industries—a sector that, as many have reminded us today, is growing faster than the rest of the economy. Between 2010 and 2019 it grew by 44%, and it could, given the right circumstances, more than double by 2030. The BBC is the single largest investor in original UK content: £1.4 billion-worth in 2021, which is 60% more than its nearest rival, Netflix. It also commissions more than its rivals. More importantly, perhaps, it has, as it always has had, a strong regional base, with 71% of its content coming from producers based outside London.

Those are impressive figures, and they are repeated across the sector. As has been noted, the creative industries have outperformed other parts of the economy in recent years, and they are likely to be a key factor in our eventual return to GDP growth. The cultural sector has the capacity to bounce back faster, quicker and higher than all other sectors, but it needs support to do so. We will remain a world leader in these crucial sectors only if central and local government continue to nurture them. In our experience, local government recognises the value of the arts and creative industries. Arts-led regeneration is now very much flavour of the month in terms of what local authorities are trying to do, and it makes a massive contribution to local economies. But if we get it wrong, as a number of Peers have said today, the cultural sector suffers and shrinks.

Councils and regional partnerships play a supportive role through the planning system, with funding for venues, events to highlight local talent and so on. However, in the past few years we have seen what happens when central government fails to support the arts and creative sectors. Yes, the Government provide funding via the Arts Council and other bodies, and we accept that there are tax incentives in other areas, but many creatives feel that more could be done to support them. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, made a strong case for the use of fiscal incentives. Perhaps today the Minister could comment on this without upsetting his ministerial colleagues in the Treasury.

The Covid lockdowns brought the arts to a standstill. That was understandable from a public health point of view but it means that many artists, museums, galleries and other cultural organisations are only just getting back on their feet. Gaping holes in the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s coronavirus support schemes left creative freelancers, as a number of Peers have said today, very much out in the cold. Labour repeatedly called for action to bring freelancers within the scope of emergency funding, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Londesborough, said, but none was taken. Event organisers and performers experienced visa problems; many performers also experienced a downward push in their opportunities and their ability to export our cultural excellence.

Covid restrictions may have eased, but the cost of living crisis and the Conservative Government’s wider economic failures mean that the sector’s costs are literally going through the roof, threatening much of our cultural inheritance. At the same time, household finances are being squeezed, meaning that people have less to spend on leisure and cultural activities. What assessment has DCMS made of the likely impact of current economic circumstances on demand for the output of arts organisations and creative firms?

As the Library briefing makes clear, and as colleagues have referenced, DCMS has been slow to come forward with a sectoral vision for the creative industries, despite the importance of having such a strategy in the current economic climate. We have had months of dither, delay and chaos at the centre of our Government. While we have been fortunate in some senses to have the Minister reappointed—a second coming, one might say—he must surely share our frustration with regard to the lack of recent progress in key areas. I am sure the Minister will disagree, but there is a growing feeling across different sectors that DCMS is unable to deliver. Its failures to deliver on a sector vision are the latest in a long list of delays, downgrades and cancellations. As my noble friend Lord Griffiths argued, we need to see that sector vision so that we can give greater certainty to the cultural institutions that thrive in our country. Importantly, that vision should link the creative sectors with the Government’s wider levelling-up agenda, which many noble Lords alluded to during the debate. This is another area where progress has been unacceptably slow.

Colleagues have referred to the recent Arts Council funding decision, which will see a greater emphasis on areas of the country outside London. We will of course have a more detailed debate on that next week but, today, my noble friend Lord Chandos made a very powerful case for ENO and opera, and rightly so. I could make an equal argument for better and stronger support for Glyndebourne, my local opera house, set wonderfully as it is in the Sussex Downs—and now hampered, as my noble friend Lady Andrews suggested in her powerful speech.

We all agree on the need to address geographic disparities, which are greater in this country than any other. These disparities are reflected in funding, but this does not need to be a zero-sum game; nor, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, argued, should these disparities be tackled in such a short timeframe. My noble friend Lady McIntosh argued that the background to the decisions that were made undermined the integrity and independence of the Arts Council’s decision-making. I think we all need reassurance on that. Why do we need to level down London, whose cultural offering draws in tourists from around the globe, to support the rest of the country? Is that really the best way to achieve levelling up?

On the Arts Council and English National Opera, why were certain decisions not properly consulted on or communicated better? That has been a strong feature of comments made during the debate.

To finish, we must always remember how lucky we are to have the incredible talents that we do across the arts and creative industries in this country. We can put a sum on these sectors’ economic value, but it is hard to convey the immense enjoyment and educational value that comes on top of those economic benefits. Our brilliant creative industries struggled during Covid but pulled together, innovated and weathered the storm. However, they now face sky-high energy bills and the impacts of a recession. The Government need to stop dragging their feet and, as the noble Lord, Lord Foster, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, argued, pull together several departments—DCMS, BEIS, DLUHC and the Cabinet Office—to drive the strategy. It is vital that they deliver a strategy that gives the arts and our creative industries greater certainty and puts them at the centre of future growth.

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 2:34, 8 December 2022

My Lords, this has been a long, thoughtful and well-informed debate. As the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, said, on Monday night there was a similar debate in another place. The deputy arts editor of the Times thought it was

“an indictment of the government’s attitude to the arts” that the Arts Minister could not take part in that debate, because I sit in this House. At the risk of sounding thin-skinned, I want to respond to that—not to defend myself or the Government particularly but to defend the work of your Lordships’ House and our bicameral system, particularly as the party opposite now thinks we are indefensible and should be abolished.

Monday’s debate in another place lasted 30 minutes and had 10 speakers. Today’s will last up to three hours and has 21 speakers, including a former Arts Minister, a prize-winning dancer with the Royal Ballet, a chairman of English Heritage, an executive director of the National Theatre and leading light at the Royal Shakespeare Company, a teacher who ran her local youth theatre and many more. The noble Viscount set out his own credentials at the beginning of the debate and he follows in a proud family tradition: I believe it was his grandfather after whom the Lyttelton Theatre on the South Bank is named, following his work as the first chairman of the National Theatre.

Noble Lords have asked detailed questions today, based on their decades of expertise. Any policy area is fortunate to be scrutinised in your Lordships’ House and I, for one, am glad to be held to account here, so I am grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, for giving noble Lords the chance to do that today—but I take some small exceptions to the framing of his Motion.

The terms of the Motion imply that protecting our world-leading creative industries and ensuring that more people have the opportunity to enjoy or take part in them through levelling up are somehow in opposition, and I must disagree. The point of levelling up is to make sure that everyone, in every part of the United Kingdom, can be part of the arts and creative industries’ success story. That is a story that many noble Lords have told eloquently again today. The noble Viscount’s Motion talks of “the case for” a strategy towards the arts and creative industries, implying that there is not one already. I am happy to reassure him that there is, and glad to have the opportunity to explain how it is shaping the approach taken by the Government and our partners, such as Arts Council England.

Specifically, I point noble Lords to: the levelling-up White Paper, which was published in February; the work we are conducting with the Creative Industries Council to develop a sector vision; and Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, which was developed in consultation with the public and people from across the arts and cultural sectors, and approved by government Ministers when it was published in 2020.

For more than three-quarters of a century, the Arts Council has nurtured cultural life in this country and kept it separate from party politics. It is a cross-party legacy; it succeeds the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, which was set up in the dark days at the beginning of the Second World War by the national Government led by Neville Chamberlain. As noble Lords rightly reminded us, it was given its royal charter and new name in 1946, under Labour’s Attlee Government. It is a cross-party model of which we should be proud and which has been emulated across the world. Its decisions about which organisations to fund and by how much are taken at arm’s length from government Ministers, so if I do not go into detail on some of the specific organisations raised by noble Lords today, that is not to be slopy-shouldered but to defend that arm’s-length principle, which the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, and others extolled.

As a number of noble Lords noted, Arts Council England plays a central role in supporting arts and culture in this country. It recently announced the outcome of its investment programme for 2023 to 2026, investing £446 million each year in arts and culture across England. It is doing that in a slightly different way to previous rounds, but in line with the trend the Arts Council itself has been pursuing for a number of years and over a number of rounds. It might be helpful to take a step back to provide a bit of context.

Most cultural organisations in this country do not rely on funding from the Government or from the Arts Council. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, it is just one piece of the jigsaw, albeit a vital one. We saw the Culture Recovery Fund, the emergency support of more than £1.5 billion that the Government provided during the pandemic, helping more than 5,000 cultural organisations across England. Many of them had little relationship with the Government or the Arts Council until the pandemic hit—or indeed with the British Film Institute, Historic England or the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which helped us to distribute that emergency funding—but they were grateful for the help that came when they needed it. As a result of the work we did in the pandemic, we have a sort of Domesday Book of culture, showing the full range of organisations across England that weave the rich tapestry of cultural life in this country.

More than 5,000 organisations received support through the Culture Recovery Fund. Only 1,700 applied for Arts Council funding in the next investment programme. While noble Lords are right to probe how that money is being spent, it is important to remember that it is only one way in which arts and culture are supported in this country. None the less, 1,700 represents a record number of applications for the Arts Council’s competitive funding and a record number of organisations, 990, will receive funding as a result—more organisations than ever before and in more parts of the country. Some 276 organisations are set to join the portfolio for the first time, with 215 of them outside London. This reflects our commitment to distribute funding and access to arts and culture more fairly. However, in London more organisations will be funded in the next round than the last—283 compared with 268.

The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, talked about the size of the pie that is available in funding. I am pleased that my right honourable friends Oliver Dowden and Nadine Dorries secured an uplift for the Arts Council at the last spending review. There was an additional £43 million for the Arts Council’s grant in aid. We did not succumb to the macrotemptation mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Londesborough. Thanks to this larger pie and increases from the National Lottery, Arts Council England will be spending £30 million per year more through its core investment programme than in the previous NPO round.

The question is how that larger pie should be sliced. In the last portfolio London benefited disproportionately, receiving around £21 per capita compared to an average of £6 per capita in the rest of the country. Even accounting for the important role that London plays as our capital and the wonderful organisations housed here, that is a stark discrepancy. Some 133 local authorities across England did not receive any funding—not a penny. A national portfolio should be based across the nation. I am sure that noble Lords would agree that it is not the case that there is no culture of note in places like Bolsover, Mansfield or Blackburn. These areas are all now represented in the new portfolio, which covers 217 local authorities compared to 180 last time.

Working with the Arts Council, DCMS identified 109 levelling-up for culture places which received historically lower levels of funding, or which had lower levels of participation through metrics we set out transparently and published on the Arts Council’s website. Because of that decision, investments in those levelling-up for culture places were more than doubled.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, asked about the instruction to the Arts Council. The letter from the previous Secretary of State to the Arts Council was published and set out precisely what she asked it to do. It is important to stress that it was not giving instructions based on specific institutions or art forms, but it was asking the Arts Council to ensure that the taxpayer subsidy—which comes from taxpayers across the country—is spread more equitably across England. That is consistent with the arm’s-length principle we all cherish.

As a result, towns like Mansfield will receive funding for the first time. Mansfield District Council will receive £1.7 million over three years to manage Mansfield Museum and Mansfield Palace Theatre. Unanima Theatre, which brings young people and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities together, will benefit from nearly £700,000 over three years—something I hope noble Lords welcome.

We have seen an increase in the number of organisations led by people with disabilities in the new portfolio to 32. I had the pleasure of visiting one of them, DASH in Shropshire, three weeks ago. We have also seen a huge increase in the number of organisations led by people from black, Asian and ethnic-minority backgrounds, from 53 in the last portfolio to 143 in the next. Arts, culture and creativity are all enriched when everybody is able to tell and share their stories. I congratulate the Arts Council on its work to enable that.

At the same time, we recognise the special role played by our nation’s capital. It houses world-class institutions. People visit them from all over this country, and indeed from all over the world. We see that particularly at the moment as tourists flock to London to enjoy the cultural offering. Those institutions perform a levelling-up function in providing a national stage on which people can perform. For the fictional Billy Elliot, it was dancing with the Royal Ballet which persuaded his family of the value of dance as an artistic medium. That story is based on “Dancer”, a play by Geordie playwright Lee Hall, which premiered at the Live Theatre in Newcastle and was heavily influenced by the photographer Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen’s book Step by Step, about a dancing school in nearby North Shields, the town of my birth. The film “Billy Elliot” made over $100 million at the box office. It won three BAFTAs and was nominated for three Oscars, which is an illustration of the economic benefit and soft power of UK culture. We want to see more films and plays like it. That is why I am proud to see an additional £90,000 going to New Writing North to encourage new playwrights like Lee Hall and continued funding of £640,000 for the Live Theatre and its connected organisations. Like the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, I am delighted by the cultural renaissance we are seeing on Tyneside.

Noble Lords and people beyond this House may disagree with some of the individual funding decisions taken by the Arts Council. They were made entirely independently of the Government, so, as I said, I cannot comment in detail on individual outcomes. They were taken against well-established criteria and expectations, with careful consideration taken by employees and the regional and national councils of the Arts Council, who have a deep understanding of the sector. Some of them are appointed by the Government; some are appointed by other politicians such as the Mayor of London. Many others are simply drawn from people with expertise across the sector and in their regions.

A number of noble Lords have mentioned the English National Opera. I saw earlier that its excellent chairman Dr Harry Brünjes and its excellent chief executive Stuart Murphy were here watching our debate. I think one of their colleagues has stayed behind; they are all very welcome. The English National Opera has done tremendous work. I pay tribute to it and all the staff for the work they have done, including the fantastic ENO Breathe programme, which has been helping people with respiratory problems as we emerge from the pandemic. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, asked about transitional funding for the ENO. I confirm that Arts Council England has offered the ENO a package of support. We are keen that the Arts Council and ENO work together on the possibilities for the future of the organisation. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State encouraged the Arts Council to provide a larger and longer pot of transitional funding, which will be available to all organisations affected by the decisions in this portfolio. I reassure noble Lords that in the new investment programme, Arts Council England’s investment in opera, orchestras and other classical organisations will represent around 80% of all investment in music. I hope that will be music to the ears of the noble Baroness, Lady Wheatcroft.

Through this programme, opera will continue to be well funded, remaining at around 40% of overall investment in music. Organisations such as English Touring Opera and the Birmingham Opera Company will receive increased funding. There are many new joiners such as Opera Up Close and Pegasus Opera Company based in Brixton, which I had the pleasure of visiting yesterday. The Royal Opera House will continue to be funded, receiving the largest amount of any organisation in the portfolio of more than £22 million—about the same as all of the east Midlands.

London’s role as a global cultural centre is clearly reflected in the next investment programme, with 61 London organisations receiving funding for the first time, including the Jewish Museum and the Foundling Museum. Arts Council priority places in the capital such as Croydon and Brent will receive £18.8 million over the next three years. In Croydon alone investment will double, and the borough will see three organisations join the portfolio. We are levelling up within London as well as between London and the rest of the country.

As noble Lords have noted, this funding round was extremely competitive. With a record number of applications, it was inevitable that some organisations would be disappointed. As the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, said, it was ever thus. There is no automatic entitlement for arts organisations to continue receiving public funding in perpetuity. We recognise that leaving the portfolio can be an anxious and challenging experience, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic and with the challenges of the winter we all face. But this can also lead to organisational innovation and development in the organisations that did not get as much as they were bidding for. As the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, said at the start, the nature of the arts is to be open to dynamic change, and I agree with him that this should be encouraged carefully, mindful of the need for balance.

A number of noble Lords mentioned the creative industries sector vision that we are developing, which will set out our 2030 ambitions to drive growth and employment in our world-renowned creative industries as well as increase the positive impact that they can play in our lives. I recognise that the delays in publication have been frustrating, but we will publish it early in the new year—I hope that is better than “in due course”. At the heart of the sector vision is £50 million of investment from DCMS to drive growth across the country through the Create Growth programme, the UK games fund and the UK global screen fund. UKRI has announced over £100 million of support for R&D and innovation in the creative industries, including the creative catalyst and CoSTAR programmes.

In August last year, we announced our flexi-job apprenticeship offer, including a £7 million fund to support sectors with flexible employment patterns and project-based working, which is particularly the case in the creative industries. Five active flexi-job apprenticeship pilots are currently under way, with creative employers such as the BBC and the National Theatre. The ScreenSkills apprenticeship pilot, supported by DCMS, Netflix and Warner Bros, also focuses on widening participation and diversifying the talent pipeline in the TV and film sectors. Both the Department for Education and DCMS continue to work closely with the creative sectors through the creative advisory group to explore further possibilities and flexibilities for apprenticeships, alongside other post-16 pathways, including T-levels, higher technical qualifications and skills boot camps. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, has agreed to chair the expert panel to inform the new cultural education plan.

The noble Lord, Lord Storey, spoke with passion about ensuring that everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to take part in arts and culture. You should not have to sofa-surf in London or know someone already in the business in order to pursue a career in the arts that can be rewarding in every sense of the word. As a former comprehensive schoolboy who grew up in Tyneside and rural Suffolk, I feel passionately about this and welcome the expertise that the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, will bring, along with her fellow panel members, to help us to deliver that. She is right to highlight the commission of the Local Government Association, chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Hornsey—I am pleased to say that I will attend its launch later this afternoon.

A number of noble Lords talked about the international reputation of UK arts and creativity. The cultural sector is a key asset that boosts perceptions of this country abroad, with both a financial and a reputational return on investment. Research shows that people who have been exposed to UK culture and education report more interest in doing business with the UK than those who have not—an average difference of 11 percentage points.

The noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, talked importantly about the two cultures, which have never been closer, and the importance of science and scientific researchers. He may have seen the new exhibition at the Science Museum, “Injecting Hope”, about the search for a Covid vaccine. This will move from London to tour China and India. Earlier this week, I was at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL, which benefited from the £4 million pot of funding from the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation.

The noble Viscount and the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, mentioned the importance of touring. We have supported the sector to adapt to new arrangements with the European Union, and we worked extensively with it and directly with EU member states to clarify arrangements on the movement of people, goods and haulage. We have worked across government and with the industry to develop guidance on landing pages on GOV.UK specifically for touring musicians and other creative professionals. We have worked to ensure that that is clear, accessible and available to people, and we continue to work with the sector to make sure that it is.

I mentioned the Government’s commitment through the Culture Recovery Fund, but a number of noble Lords asked about freelancers. The Omicron strain hit about this time last year, and I am glad to say that we provided £1.5 million of emergency funding specifically for freelancers, matched by £1.35 million from the theatre sector, which was distributed through the Theatre Artists Fund, Help Musicians and the Artists Information Company. This helped in addition to the money provided to organisations to ensure that they were able to open their doors and employ freelancers when the pandemic abated.

The last Budget increased tax reliefs for theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries until 2024. These additional tax reliefs are worth almost £250 million to the sector and are a fantastic boost to it to keep producing the content for which we are world famous. Taken together, along with the other pan-economy support measures that the Treasury provided, these interventions supported the cultural sector throughout the challenges of Covid. Furthermore, the £500 million film and TV restart scheme helped us to ensure that our screen sector could continue to produce content safety, protecting over 100,000 jobs and more than £3 billion of production spending.

We continue to be aware that arts and cultural organisations face new challenges because of the increase in energy prices. I recently hosted a series of round-table discussions with people from the performing arts, heritage and museum sectors to ensure that we maintain our focus on the ongoing impact of energy price increases and inflation as well as identifying opportunities to improve energy efficiencies. The Government continue to support all sectors in the economy this winter with the energy bill relief scheme, but I have heard first-hand how important this support has been to our cultural organisations. DCMS has worked closely to inform the Treasury-led review of the scheme, which will be published by the end of this year, and we have provided evidence on the nuanced challenges faced particularly by the cultural sector as part of this review.

In the Autumn Statement last month, the Chancellor set out his plans to restore stability to the economy, protect high-quality public services and build long-term prosperity. He also announced a £13.6 billion package of support for payers of business rates in England, which will support people in the cultural sector too. Plans for the second round of the levelling-up fund were confirmed, with at least £1.7 billion to be allocated to infrastructure projects around the UK before the end of the year. One of the themes for that fund is supporting cultural and heritage assets, which will give another important boost to the sector.

The noble Lord, Lord Leong, asked about text and data mining, and we recognise the concerns that the sector raised about this. My honourable friend Julia Lopez raised this with the IP Minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who has agreed to engage further on the text and data mining exemption. We will consider all of the evidence before making a decision.

The noble Lord, Lord Foster, asked about creative clusters programmes. Since the last spending review, UKRI has announced more than £100 million of support for the creative industries to support innovation. The decision to fund creative clusters is made by UKRI, but I am keen to work with it to look at the results of the programme and other interventions to see what has worked and ought to be replicated.

So the Government recognise and appreciate that London is a leading cultural centre, with organisations that benefit not just the capital but the whole country and that are enjoyed the world over. But that is true of other towns and cities too: only last night, Veronica Ryan won the Turner Prize—I congratulate her—which was announced at Tate Liverpool. Next year, the eyes of the world will be on that city as it hosts the Eurovision Song Contest, inspiring people around the world about the power of music.

Through the Arts Council’s next investment portfolio, by increasing investment outside London, it will help to generate culture and creative opportunities for more people in places that have been underserved for too long. In doing so, it will help to redress an historic imbalance in arts funding. I firmly believe that that work, alongside the investments and other programmes that I outlined, can ensure that our world-class arts and culture can continue to thrive into the future.

Photo of Viscount Chandos Viscount Chandos Labour 2:58, 8 December 2022

I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and the Minister for summing up. I endorse the comments of many noble Lords who welcomed his return to the Front Bench with this portfolio. The richness and breadth of the contributions from the 20 or so speakers are a symbol of the richness and breadth of the creative industries and the arts and culture sector. I have certainly learned a great deal and been challenged to think in a new way about many things.

I mentioned that there had been 20-odd speakers, but my noble friend Lady McIntosh and the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, probably represent the experience of about six people between them, whether as performers, producers or academics.

The Minister picked me up on implying or suggesting that levelling up was in conflict with maintaining our world-leading position. I had meant to make it clearer in my opening remarks that, at least in the medium and long term, I think that they are not in conflict—but in what we are seeing in the clumsy and ill-planned implementation, at the very least, in the short term, there is that danger.

I also wanted to make it clear that this is not about us metropolitan Londoners going out, educating and bringing culture to the north or any other part of the country. As has been mentioned, there are wonderful and long-established institutions all over the country. The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, talked about Sage Gateshead, which is one of the great cultural achievements of the past 25 years, and was very much the initiative of the local community. Indeed, it is two-way traffic; the wonderful Kings Place office building with its two concert halls was the result of a Newcastle property developer, Peter Millican.

I welcome the Minister’s indication that the Secretary of State is pushing—if I understood him correctly—to make the transitional payments available widely to affected organisations and to make them larger and longer, although anything that is transitional rather than ongoing will clearly still be only some small consolation.

The noble Lord, Lord Foster, was I think the first of several noble Lords to mention the absence of the creative industries from the five sectors prioritised in the Autumn Statement. I found that depressing and a bit ominous. This month’s Chancellor was the Secretary of State at the beginning of the coalition Government for what is now DCMS. His ruthless pruning of the departmental budget may have aided his ascent up the slippery pole of his political career, but it did nothing for the sector. That is when so much of the damage was done, whatever modest adjustments there have been to funding more recently.

At the heart of many noble Lords’ concerns is the question of the arm’s-length nature of the Arts Council’s position, and whether it has been dented or breached. I have a different view from my noble friend Lady McIntosh, but I guess I am a bit defeatist, and the reality may be that the arm’s length is not being and will not be maintained, so it is better to acknowledge it by bringing more direct into the department.

I will wind up with one last comment. My noble friend Lord Leong, my newest colleague, said that he sometimes wondered whether he had found himself in Hogwarts. This is my 40th or 41st year in the House, and the only difference is that I know that it is Hogwarts.

Motion agreed.