MPs discuss the value of the arts in first major commons debate in five years

First published on Thu, June 20, 2013.

Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman yesterday led a major debate in the House of Commons on the arts and the future of the creative industries.

The debate was the first of its kind on the subject in over five years. Harman, who is also deputy leader of the Labour Party, argued that the arts should be valued both for their economic impact and their “intrinsic value” and contribution to health, education and communities. MPs cited Creative & Cultural Skills’ recent research on the relationship between subsidised and commercial theatre as part of their evidence, and the important role in creating paid apprenticeships and internships for young people played by the Creative Employment Programme.

During the debate, the Shadow Culture Secretary accused the Government of failing to safeguard creative education in schools, and called on Government to develop a formal ‘survival strategy’ for the arts. This, Harman argued, would require greater cross-government collaboration between the DCMS, the Department for Education, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Responding to Harman, Culture Secretary Maria Miller claimed that the 5% cut was ‘welcomed’ by the sector. Miller also signalled that National Plan for Cultural Education would be published by the Education Department next month and confirmed that her department, the DCMS, would still be in existence in 2015.

Creative & Cultural Skills welcomes this debate, which comes at a crucial time for the arts as further cuts to the DCMS budget loom. We lead the campaign for fair access to employment within the creative and cultural industries, and believe that if the industry is to meet its considerable economic potential, talented and hardworking young people from all backgrounds must be able to enter and progress.

The debate followed a motion signed by 59 MPs, the majority of whom were Labour, that called for Government to recognise the social as well as economic value of the arts, and to take forward an arts and creative industries strategy on this basis. The full transcript of the debate is available here.


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