So the Labour leadership election is in full swing, with a result in a couple of weeks. All four candidates have broadly outlined their views on the arts. Let’s take a look.
Andy Burnham (a previous Secretary of State for DCMS) has emphasised the need for ‘technical training for creative industries’ and to address the issue of low pay in the sector. So far, so uninspiring, especially from someone who at least has worked with DCMS. 4/10
Yvette Cooper, more encouragingly, has talked about the need to make the case for the intrinsic value of the arts, and the impact on people & communities as well as their economic impact. To paraphrase Stewart Lee, when your justification for the arts is because someone buys a packet of crisps on their way to a venue, you’ve already lost the argument. It would be nice to see someone at least attempt to make the ‘intrinsic’ case for a change. 7/10
Front-runner Jeremy Corbyn has also encouragingly talked about the value of the ‘creative arts’ to society, and the importance of arts education in schools (and how much this is under threat from the Tories). Absolutely. 7/10
Liz Kendall, unsurprisingly, seems to be making the economic impact argument, as well as the need for better pay. Economics all the way. ‘The price of everything and the value of nothing’ springs to mind. 2/10
At this stage, it’s highly probable that Corbyn will win, and he’ll have bigger fish to fry than sharpening his focus on the arts. But hopefully it’ll form part of a wider ‘non-philistine’ narrative around the need to focus on quality of life and investment in public services…