A speech given by Ed Milliband on 23/02/15 at the Battersea Arts Centre
“ Because the arts, culture and creativity define us: who we are as a nation.
Because they make a major contribution to our economic success.
… I know the people who subsidise the arts the most are artists
themselves: who work for free, for long hours, for scant financial
…I don’t believe culture belongs to just one
department. Because what you do matters across our society and we can only achieve the mission of a society that works for all and not just a few if we see the value of culture right across government.
The Department of Work and Pensions for the routes into work you offer.
The Ministry of Justice because your work with young offenders is
And the Department of Education because how we teach the young is so
important to your future and ours.
It matters to our young people for the opportunities they can enjoy.
It matters to you for the talent they have.
It matters to us for all of the magical things our young people might create.
… So putting art and culture at the heart of government policy means
putting art and culture at the heart of our offer to young people.
… It is an area where Britain leads the world.
…Together, the creative industries account for at least 1.7m jobs and
are the fastest growing sector of our economy.
…They define our character as a nation.
Great architecture and public art, from the Millennium Bridge to the
Angel of the North, lifts our spirits. Publicly-funded art and culture is vital to our dynamism as a country. Encouraging our experimentation, creativity and innovation. And it opens up new opportunities.
… I would go further: if you believe in social justice, if you believe
in a more equal society, as I do, then access to the arts and culture
is not an optional extra—it is essential. Not simply because of the worlds it opens up, but because of the wider
impact it has.
Some people pose the arts and culture as an alternative to academic education. But the truth is the opposite. Over 40% of 16 year olds from low-income families who engage in the arts and culture score above average in their school tests.
Those who take part in the arts and culture are more likely to get a degree.
It can’t be right that all of these advantages are the privilege of a
few, rather than the right of the many.
That is why at the heart of the next Labour government’s mission is to
guarantee every young person, from whatever background access to the
arts and culture. A universal entitlement to a creative education.
The number of arts and culture teachers in schools has fallen by 11% since 2010. And in 2013, fewer than one in ten of students combined arts and
culture and science subjects at AS level.
And only this morning at the BRIT school I heard about their fear
about the all pervasive downgrading of what they do.
At the moment there is no formal requirement for arts and culture and
cultural education in schools and much of what we did to improve
access in government has been cut back.
In my view, a truly outstanding education cannot exclude creative
subjects, especially if we wish to see fully rounded citizens of our
country leaving our schools and colleges at 18. And schools will have to provide high quality creative subjects and cultural opportunities to all their pupils if they want to get an “outstanding” Ofsted rating.
It is about understanding the importance of the arts.
… Because young people deserve a broad and balanced curriculum.
So our plan starts with schools and making sure creativity and the
arts and culture go from the margins to the mainstream in education in
Next, we need to make sure that the thousands of fantastic arts and
cultural organisations we are so fortunate to have in this country are
truly open to all our young people, in all regions, from all
We will maintain the policy introduced by the last Labour government
of free admission to our national museums and galleries.
In the first 10 years of free museum and gallery admission, visitor
numbers more than doubled. Over two million more children visited museums every year. And the number of ethnic minority visitors nearly trebled in the first 10 years it was in place.
And I know so many of the organisations that you lead are doing more
and more every year to widen access to the arts, often against the
hardest of odds, both social and financial.
Organisations who receive funding from the Arts Council are already
encouraged to improve the number of activities that they offer young
people. But we will work with you to do more to ensure that public money is
always used to increase the number of arts and cultural opportunities
and activities available for young people of all backgrounds.
If the first part of our plan is about school and the second part is
about access to arts and culture organisations, the third part of our
plan is about working in the arts and creative industries.
We must open up the opportunities for young people to work and develop
their artistic and creative talents wherever they are in the country.
That starts with proper opportunities in school, real work experience
and expert careers advice.
Last year there were only 1,000 apprenticeship starts in culture and
the creative industries. And yet, the creative industries are one of the fastest growing and increasingly essential sectors of our economy.
So a Labour government will work with you – and work with the creative
sector all over Britain – to increase the number of apprenticeships.
We will give you more control over the available funding for training
and apprenticeships. And in exchange, we want you to make those apprenticeships available. As well as increasing opportunities through apprenticeships, our plan also involves getting young people who have been out of work back into jobs.
And there is a role for arts and culture here too. The next Labour government will give a Jobs Guarantee for every young
person who has been out of work for 6 months. In return for employers providing a job and at least 10 hours of
training to participants, government will pay the wages. We want you involved in this. You offer the jobs of the future and lots of young people want to work in your sector.
And so we will look to the arts and creative sectors to play a key
role in creating these paths to employment. So I intend to make a permanent change to the way that the arts and culture are represented in Westminster and Whitehall. The members of the Committee will include leading figures from the arts and culture world, drawn from a whole host of backgrounds from right across the country. Practitioners as well as decision-makers. To bring key issues of concern in the arts, culture and creative industries directly to the attention of the Prime Minister.
To make sure that you and your value is recongised across government.
To increase funding for the arts and culture by bringing private and
philanthropic sources of support into a closer relationship with the
public sector. And to help us go further in expanding our agenda of increasing access
to the arts and culture to all young people of any background.
So this is our plan to celebrate, enhance and open up the arts and
culture in Britain for a new generation.
Because I believe, and I know so many of you do too, that Britain will
be a prouder, richer, stronger country when we give everybody the
opportunity to develop their creativity, expand their horizons,
enhance their talents and make a life for themselves in the arts and