Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Creative Arts on the Election Agenda.

The 6th May is probably indelibly marked on your hearts as it’s hand in day. It is also of course Election Day. As you are all working frantically on your assignments and may not have the time to see what the parties are including in their manifestos I thought I would give you a brief overview of what the three parties have to say about the Arts.

The Labour Party manifesto runs to over 70 pages and is divided into 10 chapters covering topics such as education, health and crime. One of the chapters which is most closely aligned with the Creative Arts is “Communities and Creative Britain”. There are five pages in this section and there is a lot in there about Sport and the Olympics in particular. In relation to the arts Labour wants to promote what it calls creative partnerships which will ensure that people in most deprived parts of the country are able to fulfill their artistic talents by working with local arts and cultural organizations. They intend building on the success of free theatre to young people and looking towards providing reduced rate tickets for theatrical productions around Britain. And promisingly they mention the prospering of national cultural life by developing young artistic talent. Creative Bursaries are being proposed to support artistically gifted young people early in their careers. This chapter of the manifesto is wide ranging and covers issues such as community post offices and public libraries. The only mention of dance in their manifesto is that they are going to give local authorities greater powers to reject applications for lap-dancing clubs. The claim is within the manifesto that creative industries now account for 10% of the economy and they aspire to strengthen this by encouraging the film industry, the independence of the BBC and encouraging plurality of provision of broadcasting via the other television networks – Channel 4, ITV & Channel 5.

The Conservative manifesto has a small section on Culture, Arts and the Media. It’s much briefer than the Labour party’s chapter running to just under 350 words as opposed to 900 in theirs. The themes it briefly skims over are the lottery, the Olympics. The focus of their manifesto is chiefly on ICT provision with an infrastructure proposed to allow the expansion/ diversification of organizations as it addresses, commercial television, broadband and telephony infrastructure and services. There is nothing in there about the individual participation in the arts either as performer or in the audience in contrast to the Labour manifesto.

The Liberal Democratic Manifesto is the longest of them all and runs to over 100 pages. It’s structure is in sharp contrast to the other two in that it moves away from 10-12 areas of interest roughly mirroring government departments to putting the citizen at the centre of its manifesto. Hence there are four sections You and – Money; Job; Life; Family. This layout made it less obvious what their view on the creative arts are. Thankfully, there is a useful subject index at the back of the manifesto and this will direct you to the relevant part of the manifesto (pages 44-46). Like the other two parties there is mention of the Olympics and a sweeping statement about wishing to foster an environment in which all forms of creativity are able to flourish. Specifically this manifesto promises to maintain free entry to museums and galleries and to establish a creative enterprise fund offering training, mentoring and small grants to help creative industries get off the ground. One of its specific promises concerns live music performance in that they want to cut the red tape in relation to the entertainment licence. If this manifesto becomes government policy then unamplified music with no more than two musicians can be played in any licensed premises. Venues which cater for up to 200 people will not need such a licence

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