Harriet Harman promises bold arts policy in Labour manifesto

This article was written by our Director, Vicky Prior, and is not intended to wholly reflect the views of League of Culture

Every time the General Election rolls round, I’m always irritated that the arts don’t feature more heavily. After all, if politicians led the way in emphasising the importance of the arts, maybe the general public would catch on (those who haven’t already) and organisations like League of Culture wouldn’t have to fight so hard.

Imagine, we could all sit back with a nice cup of tea, safe in the knowledge that adequate funding, space and education would be ours.

Back in the real world, this Monday Harriet Harman, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, did something a little unprecedented. She promised that Labour’s General Election manifesto would include a bold policy for the arts. Not just that, but Harman has launched a consultation on the Your Britain website (which deals with all aspects of the Labour manifesto) to gather public opinion on how arts should link to education.

Frankly, I’m a little overexcited. First Sajid Javid shows he is getting to grips with being Culture Secretary, and then his opposite number calls for creative activities to be integral, not just to the school curriculum, but to every child’s life. Harman actually referred to a child’s ‘right’ to culture, a right which critics of the Coaltion fear is being eroded.

There were clear echoes of last week’s Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (which I wrote about here). Harman reiterated the importance of Ofsted’s role in ensuring adequate arts provision of a high quality. She has also pledged to roll out a Saturday Club scheme, which I imagine will be similar to Sir John Sorrell’s.

Either everyone in the culture sector is thinking along the same lines or Harman has been listening to knowledgeable culture professionals. Long may she continue to do so.

To view the consultation click here You do not have to be a member of the Labour Party to respond. The deadline for responses is 17th July 2014.

You can read Harriet Harman’s speech in full here