Arts and politicians

29th April 2015

What’s wrong with Labour’s policy on the Arts?

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In 2011 we reported on the visit to Leicester of Labour’s Ed Miliband.

“The creative industries are vitally important for the economic recovery of the UK, ” said Labour Leader Ed Miliband, in Leicester today to rally the local troops behind Jon Ashworth, candidate for the Leicester South by-election. Answering a question from ArtsIn editor Trevor Locke, Mr. Miliband acknowledged that the arts generally and the creative industries in particular were important for economic growth and the UK was able to attract industry on a global basis.
Trevor Locke explained to him that Leicester stands out in the UK as a centre for the development of creative industry but that the hustings, currently taking place in the run-up to the elections on 5th May, had not focused on this issue.

Ed was keen to point out that Labour Policy does support the Arts and does see the potential contribution it can make both for economic development and for its own sake.

When he asked Trevor Locke why he thought that there was a problem with Labour’s Arts policy, Trevor commented “It’s just not getting through in the hustings that are taking place here right now”.

“Leicester stands out nationally for its culture, arts and creative industries and more could be done to put our city on the map”, Trevor said. “If the politicians are not talking about this, maybe its because they lack a firm programme”, he said.

Speaking at a meeting of invited guests, Mr. Miliband expressed his support for the work of De Montfort University in developing key projects which would have a bearing on the future of Leicester.

Looking relaxed and confident, the Labour Leader fielded a broad range of questions from party activists, people from the local community who might not have been Labour voters and students from Leicester schools and colleges.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, standing the middle of the room in his shirt sleeves, on this warm and sunny afternoon, rather than from behind a rostrum,  said this was an informal opportunity for people to get up close to the Leader of the Opposition and listen to his views on a wide variety of topics, as he answered questions from people in the room.

Responding to a question from Geoff Rowe, of the Big Difference company and Leicester Comedy Festival, Mr. Miliband said that the 2012 Olympics would offer opportunities for people in the regions to get involved.

He commented that sport is one of the UK’s leading exports and hoped that British Athlete’s would come away from London with a respectable collection of medals.

So what does Labour have to say about policies for the Arts? See Mayoral Candidate Peter Soulsby’s manifesto. 17 pages long … try searching for the word “arts”.

To be fair, it does include the commitment “Explore the possibility of making a bid for the 2017 ‘UK City of Culture’.” and “Continue to support small arts organisations in our City … “. Labour will ” … also support Leicester’s strengths in the creative industries. ”

We have not yet seen a manifesto for Leicester South conservative candidate Jane Hunt.

Gary Hunt is standing in Leicester for the office of Elected Mayor. Speaking on the BBC Mayoral Hustings at CURVE, he made a point of raising a wide range of specific local issues but the arts was not one of them. Zuffar Haq is the Lib-Dems parliamentary candidate in Leicester South.

A trawl through the web sites of these politicians reveals that none of them have anything to say about arts issues, including the all-important key topic of support for our local creative industries.

[Arts in Leicester magazine, 19th April 2011]

Also, in 2011 we ran a news story on some work that Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth had been doing:

Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth featured in Arts in Leicester magazine

Ashworth hosts summit in bid to make Leicester top destination for music acts and bands and promote Leicester’s talent

Leicester South MP, and keen music fan, Jon Ashworth MP working with Leicester Shire Promotions is hosting a ‘summit’ dinner in the House of Commons, today in a bid to promote Leicester as top destination for big band and major music acts.

Jon Ashworth MP said “I’ve always been a big fan of music and I see no reason why we can’t attract more high profile bands and major music acts to Leicester in the same way Birmingham and Nottingham attract major acts

“That’s why I’ve teamed up with Martin Peters of Leicester Shire Promotions and pulled together this summit in the House of Commons this week with major figures from the music industry to bang the drum for Leicester and tell them what we can offer and at the same time promote Leicester’s music scene and our local talent as well.

“Given our large student population and with venues like the O2 Academy, De Montfort Hall plus our two stadiums, we should be able to get major bands and acts to come to Leicester when on tour.

“I hope this summit will be a chance to discuss how we get more acts to Leicester as well as look at how we make it more viable for those venues to put on the acts”, Mr Ashworth told us.

Those attending the summit will be representatives from the Leicester Alliance of Music Promoters; O2 Academy; De Montfort Hall; The Auditorium; City Council and Coda Music Agency. From the national music industry attending the summit dinner will be representatives of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry); Music Managers Forum; UK Music; Music Week and Live Nation.

Editor of Arts in Leicestershire magazine, Trevor Locke, commented “This is a step forward for music in Leicester. Apart from big bands coming into town, I hope the group will consider the 200 bands resident in the city who will be looking for support slots.”

[Arts in Leicester magazine, 28th July 2011]

See also

Leicester and the election of 2015

News about the election of 2015 and the arts

Our coverage of the election of 2010