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Labour Party promises £1bn extra in culture funding over five years

Published ahead of the general election in June, the UK opposition party’s manifesto includes strong support for the arts

by Martin Bailey  |  16 May 2017
Labour Party promises £1bn extra in culture funding over five years
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launches the Labour Party's 2017 general election manifesto at an event at Bradford University in West Yorkshire on 16 May 2017 (Photo: Rex Features via AP Images)
The UK’s Labour Party manifesto, published on Tuesday, 16 May, promises a new £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund “to upgrade our existing cultural and creative infrastructure to be ready for the digital age”. Administered by the Arts Council, the fund would distribute around £200m annually over five years, making it “among the biggest arts infrastructure projects ever, transforming the country’s cultural landscape,” the party says.
 
The fund would have “a particular focus on projects that could increase museums’ and galleries’ income and viability”, the manifesto adds. This would go some way towards making up for funding cuts under the Conservative government that have hit the Arts Council and local authorities, creating “a very tough financial climate for the museums, with some closing or reducing their services, and others starting to charge entry fees,” the party says.

Labour, however, promises to “end cuts to local authority budgets to support the provision of libraries, museums and galleries”. The party says it will “maintain free entry to our museums and heritage sector”. Another pledge is to “to widen the reach of the Government Art Collection so that more people can enjoy it”.

On arts education, Labour pledges to provide an annual £160m boost for primary schools in England. It also promises to “put creativity back at the heart of the curriculum, reviewing the EBacc [English Baccalaureate] performance measure to make sure arts are not sidelined from secondary education”.

The manifesto, which devotes considerable space to culture, says that as Britain leaves the European Union, “we will put our world-class creative sector at the heart of our negotiations and future industrial strategy”.

The manifestos of the Conservatives and the other parties are due to be published later this week, with the general election to be held on 8 June.



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