Election 2017 & the Arts

Will Haydon 31 May 2017

We quiz the Haringey parliament candidates

Earlier in May the National Campaign for the Arts called for all UK constituents to ask their parliamentary candidates a set of questions about the funding, education and accessibility of the arts in this country, with the aim of assessing their commitment to safeguarding the arts for the future. The questions are:

  1. What will you do to protect arts funding?
  2. How will you make good arts education available to everyone?
  3. What will you do to ensure everyone has access to the best art, no matter where they live?

We asked each of the parliamentary candidates for both the Hornsey & Wood Green and the Tottenham seats for 150-word responses to these questions. Their answers will be published below if and when they reply, in the order in which they were sent.

Q1: What will you do to protect arts funding?

Catherine West (Labour; Hornsey and Wood Green)
It’s vital that everyone, no matter their background, has access to the arts. In London we are spoilt with the number of museums, galleries and exhibitions that are regularly held. Yet, I understand that across the country funding must be accessible. That is why Labour has promised to provide a £1 billion culture fund to upgrade our creative and cultural infrastructure.

We will also end local authority budget cuts, which have led to huge cuts to the arts nationwide. I know from my time as head of Islington Council that councils have a crucial role in sustaining the arts locally, and the government’s austerity programme has led to huge cuts for councils, which has had a devastating effect on local arts groups.

Vitally, as a Labour MP I will continue to support free entry to museums, as well as continued investment in museums.

Jarelle Francis (Green Party; Tottenham)
I believe that the arts play an integral part in our culture and society.

The Green Party policy is to invest in school funding properly and also ensure that arts in schools is getting its fair share of that funding. Ensuring big corporations are paying tax is a major part of raising money for our schools and The Green Party intends to do that.

Helen Spiby-Vann (Christian Peoples Alliance; Hornsey and Wood Green)
As an art lover and practitioner, I oppose any further cuts to arts funding (and support more money from the Treasury if Lottery receipts keep falling) and pledge to support initiatives which help local government to invest in arts and culture for the benefit of local communities. I support tax relief schemes for theatre productions, orchestras, art exhibitions and support for existing local charities and performing arts/music groups catering for all ages.

The Christian Peoples Alliance has various ways of raising funding and the arts should get a share of the proceeds of this:

  • We would introduce a turnover tax of 5% on multi nationals who use off shore accounts to avoid paying tax on profits made in the UK. This would be particularly relevant for the arts - where multi national companies are not paying tax on trading in the arts sector, we would recover this money and invest it back into the arts.
  • The arts has been recognised as aiding health and well-being and arts projects which address aspects of physical and mental health are supported. We propose to increase the sugar tax (which is currently supporting sports in school) so we can extend the benefits to include arts projects in schools that promote mental health and wellbeing.
  • I am in agreement that participation in the arts is good for all. There's a wonderful spectrum of arts choices out there that beautifully complements each individual's character. It comes as no surprise to me that participation in the arts is shown in cognitive theory to be good for us.

David Lammy (Labour; Tottenham)
As a former Culture Minister in the previous Labour government I am very proud of our ambitious manifesto proposals for culture and the arts.

Not only will we maintain free entry to museums and reverse cuts to local authority budgets to support libraries, museums and arts galleries, we will introduce a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund, administered by the Arts Council, to transform the country’s cultural landscape.

Sam Hall (Green Party; Hornsey & Wood Green)
The Green Party is very clear that supporting creativity and the arts is central to our enjoyment of life and we would like to increase funding to the arts sector and support small local businesses and charities more in the taxation structure.

Q2: How will you make good arts education available to everyone?

Catherine West (Labour; Hornsey and Wood Green):
For a start, I, as a Labour MP, will support the introduction of a £160 million pupil premium for the arts, helping schools invest in creative projects so that all children have the opportunity to enjoy the arts. The party will put creativity back into the curriculum and review the English Baccalaureate.

More than this, however, we want to improve diversity on and off screen. We will work with the film industry and public service, as well as commercial broadcasters to find solutions to help boost diversity, spurring on a new generation of role models into the arts.

Jarelle Francis (Green Party; Tottenham)
The cuts we are seeing across schools budgets means often it's the creative subjects which get rolled back or teaching assistants are cut meaning there is less time to do those things, which are not part of curriculum. Green Party policy is to fully fund schools to give them the resources they need but also scrap SATs, which are putting too much pressure on children. We want teachers to be able to be free and teach whilst encouraging kids to be able to explore their creative side in lessons more than they are currently able to. We will also lift the teachers pay cap which encourages more applicants and ensures teaching is an attractive profession to pursue again.

Helen Spiby-Vann (Christian Peoples Alliance; Hornsey and Wood Green)
I support finding room in the Primary Curriculum (Key Stage 1 & 2) for more creative and arts activities. I oppose further cuts in schools’ budgets that would affect ‘enrichment’, including trips to theatres, museums and galleries. I believe that creative, artistic and technical subjects should have their own Baccalaureate so in-depth and high achieving students in this field can specialise.

David Lammy (Labour; Tottenham)
I think the EBacc has had really damaging and quite tragic consequences in terms of arts education, with young people especially those in disadvantaged areas now not having the opportunities to study music and other creative subjects.

Labour will introduce an arts pupil premium in our primary schools to support arts education and will review the EBacc to make sure that arts are not side-lined in our secondary schools when it comes to GCSEs.

I have been campaigning to improve access to careers in TV and the arts for BAME individuals and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, so I think a focus on arts education will help to boost ambitions and coupled with a bad on unpaid internships in the coming years we will hopefully see an opening up of these sectors that for so long have been bastions of privilege.

Sam Hall (Green Party; Hornsey & Wood Green)
Our education policy is centered around achieving a rounded education as opposed to an exam focused education so we'd scrap SATs and Ofsted - this would free up time for more education on the arts.

Q3: What will you do to ensure everyone has access to the best art, no matter where they live?

Catherine West (Labour; Hornsey and Wood Green):
By stopping the harsh cuts that have plagued the arts, Labour will make sure that arts are not just for city centres but for everyone. The Cultural Capital Fund, administered by Arts Council England, will be one of the biggest arts infrastructure funds ever, transforming the whole country’s cultural landscape.

By supporting live music venues by extending the £1,000 pub relief, live music events will be protected across the country, while I continue to support the extension of the Government Art Collection so more people can enjoy it.

Jarelle Francis (Green Party; Tottenham)
I have been volunteering for Art on Show, which is an art competition for school children from 3-18 years old in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Local businesses back it and the pieces chosen go on display in a local gallery and even has the potential to be bought or loaned by businesses and individuals.

This is a great way of including children of all backgrounds and ages and I would love to bring something similar to Haringey.

Helen Spiby-Vann (Christian Peoples Alliance; Hornsey and Wood Green)
I support the end of the ‘postcode lottery’ of arts funding and make sure all families have access to high quality art wherever they live. I support and advocate for the artistic jewels in our community. Sometimes we impose a cap on a child's ability to learn and perform by saying 'they are too young'. It's important that more funding should be made available in primary schools for arts projects which support a child's mental health, self esteem and well-being. Learning of musical instruments has been shown, for example, to help with different types of autism.

David Lammy (Labour; Tottenham)
By reversing Tory cuts to budgets, investing in our cultural life and supporting arts education in our schools a Labour government will begin to undo some of the damage we have seen since 2017. Supporting local authorities to keep museums, libraries and galleries open will be vitally important and I am delighted that a Labour Government will widen the reach of the Government Art Collection so that more people outside of the capital and other major cities can enjoy our rich cultural heritage.

Sam Hall (Green Party; Hornsey & Wood Green)
Interestingly our policy on transport is relevant here, we'd make public transport better and encourage low carbon transport more as well as making transport free for young people. Over and above that we'd be keen to develop local communities more, giving financial support to local initiatives.

Patricia Rumble (UKIP; Tottenham) has been in contact to express her support and love of the arts and its importance in people's lives. Due to purdah Patricia is unable to provide further comment via email.

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