Jeremy Corbyn, the surprise front-runner in the Labour leadership contest, has been setting out his priorities for the arts and creative industries.
Writing in The State of The Arts, he pledges to work with the sector to ‘support, develop, and collectively achieve a culturally rich, more prosperous future for our country’.
Corbyn believes that publicly-supported arts policy widens access to the arts and promotes creative expression. ‘Every child deserves the chance to learn a musical instrument, act on a stage, and develop their creative imagination,’ he writes, espousing the value of the arts to community, education and democracy. ‘The arts must never be the preserve of those with privilege but open to all.’
Since the coalition government came to power in 2010, the arts have been squeezed by £83m of cuts and the sector is under increasing pressure to prove its social and economic merit to justify public investment.
Corbyn argues that as Labour leader he would propose an alternative programme for the arts that supports the enrichment of cultural life and fosters community ownership.
Among the things Corbyn calls for is more investment in the arts to rebuild the foundations that have suffered under austerity, as well as a more equal distribution of funding regionally. He also suggests that a larger proportion of public investment should find its way to the cultural producers themselves.
In the article, Corbyn goes on to defend public investment in the BBC, warning against the hollowing out of content that could result if a US model of funding were adopted. He also champions the broadcaster’s role ‘in establishing and supporting world-class domestic arts, drama, and entertainment’.
Corbyn is one of four candidates standing in the Labour leadership contest along with Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham. Registration to vote in the contest is now closed and voting will commence on 14 August. The result will be announced on 12 September.