Launched in June, artists are already voicing their disappointment about how they are represented within it. The scant mentions of artists the manifesto contains focus almost entirely on artists as an instrument – in schools, the economy, in community cohesion.

A manifesto for the arts
Our vision is of a United Kingdom where the lives of all citizens are enhanced by the experience of excellent cultural and artistic activities, where artistic endeavour and achievement are highly prized and where the creative potentialof every man, woman and child is realised.
Statement introducing A manifesto for the arts

The last ten years have seen unprecedented growth in public and private investment in the arts and this, in turn, has brought significant benefits. More people are engaging with the arts at every level, as audiences, consumers or practitioners. The popularity of the arts indicates their importance.

Nearly 9.5 million people in England alone either belong to a voluntary or amateur arts group or volunteer in the arts. In 2007, attendance or taking part in an arts or cultural event was 77% of all adults in England, 90% of adults living in Scotland, 76% of adults in Wales and 76% of adults in Northern Ireland.

Our artists and arts organisations are producing inspirational work of the highest quality and promoting excellence, access and participation.

As artists and practitioners we are keen to help our nations achieve their full potential by creating a stronger, healthier and more cohesive society.

We believe the future of the UK lies in a skilled, culturally educated and creative workforce that is innovative and adaptive to change.

  • Government should recognise the unique contribution the arts and artists can make in delivering a balanced and creative curriculum.
  • Schools should incorporate the arts and culture as a core element in their curriculum and work more closely with artists to deliver this.
  • Government should facilitate greater collaboration between the sector and educators and develop the confidence and ability of teachers and educators to deliver a comprehensive cultural education.

We believe that the future of the UK’s economy lies in its capacity to create and innovate.

  • Government should view the sector as a long term, strategic investment. This should extend to investing in fresh ideas and new ways of working, as well as in organisations, providing the time and space in which artists can create and innovate, thereby bolstering the UK’s economy through sustaining its position at the forefront of cultural innovation.
  • Government should demonstrate understanding of the opportunities and challenges, specific to the sector, that arise from new digital and environmental developments.
  • Government departments must work in partnership with the cultural industries to ensure that these challenges are met and opportunities maximised.
  • Innovative uses of technology have helped artists pioneer new ways of reaching audiences.

We believe that a stronger civil society lies in the experiences shared by a community and the opportunity for everyone to get involved, and that participating in the arts, crafts or cultural activities is often a first step towards greater civic engagement.

“Cultural venues or artists’ workshops breathe new life and identity into run-down, socially and economically deprived areas.”

  • Government should require local authorities to address culture and the arts within their local strategic plans and to prioritise the provision of arts and culture in spatial planning policy.

International standing
We believe that the United Kingdom’s reputation in the cultural and creative sectors is vital to its overall international standing and will be core to its future success.

  • In recognition of the importance of the arts and cultural industry to the economic and social wellbeing of the nation, Government should look to sustain current investment in the sector and, once the economy returns to growth, increase investment at levels comparable to the growth in arts funding in England over the last decade. The UK Government should also encourage more private and corporate philanthropy by introducing new incentives and changes to the tax system.
  • The Prime Minister and First Ministers in each devolved nation should take the opportunity to further the UK’s artistic reputation by instituting a cultural programme to showcase the arts and culture to visiting dignitaries.

A powerful voice
We believe that art has the power to change lives and therefore its contribution to our national life should be supported and championed.

Our public sector broadcasters should reflect and make available to national audiences the work of our theatres, museums and galleries, orchestras, opera and dance companies and our national and local artists.

  • Government must recognise the contribution the arts make to wider societal objectives and cultural departments should lead and develop a plan for creative and cultural involvement across all government departments.

To read the Manifesto for the Arts go to June 2009