Dreams made manifest

Time to have a quick leaf through the major party manifestos and check out what they’re saying about the arts.

Labour devotes roughly a page to the arts and culture, covering all its recently-announced arts issues such as funding, philanthropy, access to the arts including a low price theatre ticket scheme, maintaining free admission to national museums, and giving the arts their Lottery cash back after the Olympics (gee, thanks). But they gain brownie points by mentioning the arts frequently in the warp and woof of the document generally – acknowledging it as part of the economic, educational and political landscape, which is interesting. The main section on the arts, within a wider definition of culture including sport, is under the heading “The next stage of national renewal”, which begins: “The sporting, artistic and cultural life of Britain is rich and diverse, internationally renowned, and as vital to our quality of life as it is to our national prosperity”. Not entirely unimpressive.

Mention-o-meter: “arts” – 10; “culture” (in the arts sense) – 6; “creativity” – 1, which is business-related.

The Conservatives manage only two mentions of the arts in their 160-page document. The first reiterates the party’s intention to restore Lottery funding for the arts, and one gets the distinct impression that this idea has been picked up because it snipes at Labour. It’s certainly not the most interesting culture idea the Tories have had, and it is truly surprising that the strenuous efforts of the Shadow Culture Team (especially Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey) have not resulted in a better showing in print. there is nothing on the creative industries at all, which considering the massive interest that Vaizey in particular has been showing in this area is ever-so-slightly embarrassing for him. It reinforces Lady Eff’s view that the Tories think of the arts as a slightly effete but nevertheless generally admirable pastime for the leisured classes.

The other mention comes in a vignette about Brighton, a city split into two highly marginal constituencies of Brighton Pavilion (which may be Green-bound) and Brighton Kemptown. This is clearly trying to put across the message “we’re right on, we are, we even think gays are OK now”. Meh.

Mention-o-meter: “arts” – 2 “culture” (in the arts sense): 0; “creativity” – 0

The Liberal Democrats follow up their recent paper, ‘The Power of Creativity’, by reiterating in short form the main ideas they published then. They allocate two pages (though with some big illustrations) to a section entitled “Access to culture and sport” which recognises the “innovation, education, diversity, and social inclusion” aspects of the arts and that “the creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy”. It details some specific (possibly too specific and therefore nit-picky?) policies including cutting red tape for live music, maintaining free entry to national museums and reforming the National Lottery.

Mention-o-meter: “arts” – 1; “culture” (in the arts sense) – 2; “creativity” – 1, which is arts-related.

It’s only possible to do a very small amount of this at a time without dying inside (I hope you’re grateful), so Lady Eff will be back soon with a look at some of the smaller parties’ manifestos. TTFN!

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Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 14:25  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lady Eff, I’m grateful! Interesting to see the Lib Dem view. Also I do think you’re right about the possible irritation for Messers Vaizey and Hunt – all that schmoozing and opinion-spreading and very little to show for it.
    I think you should have a lie-down now.

  2. Thanks for the hard work Lady Eff, but I’m not voting that bloody man back in, and I don’t believe a word of his manifesto anyway. None of them will have a bean to spare for the arts anyway, so maybe that’s why the Tories aren’t promising much.

    • I’m not asking you to vote for anybody, Philly – I’m just saying what’s in there! I’m disappointed in the Tories for not putting more of the detail in – it’s a missed opportunity in my view. But hey 160 pages is already far too much. Lady Eff x

      • Maybe they thought it was pointless. All the promises made in the Lib, Lab and Con manifestos would cost £30 billion more than they would have to spend, so, much though I appreciate the work you have put in Lady Eff, I think you have wasted your time.
        Always a pleasure to read your prose though!

  3. Thank you Catherine your hard work is much appreciated – cake in the sun much deserved!


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