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Hours before polling day, what are the parties saying about Arts and Culture?

A new theatre for Manchester, £500m more for the arts and smoking back in pubs - just some pledges from the election rivals

The Great North Museum Hancock
The Great North Museum Hancock

Conservative Party

“In music, art, fashion, theatre, design, film, television and the performing arts,” they say, this country has an edge. They “understand these things do not just enhance our national prestige and boost our economy; they help tie our country together...”

They promise to keep major national museums and galleries free to enter and “enable our cultural institutions to benefit from greater financial autonomy to use their budgets as they see fit.”

They will “support a Great Exhibition in the North; back plans for a new theatre, The Factory, Manchester; and help the Manchester Museum, in partnership with the British Museum, to establish a modern world class concert hall for London.”

They will “continue to support local libraries” and “set challenging targets for Visit Britain and Visit England” to ensure more visitors travel outside the capital.”

The creative industries, they say, have become our fastest-growing economic sector, “contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy – driven in part by tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras we introduced”.

They will continue with these and add a tax credit for children’s television next year.

L-R Craig Duggan, Duncan Crute, Rebecca Moore, Emma True, Sara Bryson, and Nick Brown at the Live Theatre in Newcastle
L-R Craig Duggan, Duncan Crute, Rebecca Moore, Emma True, Sara Bryson, and Nick Brown at the Live Theatre in Newcastle

Labour Party

Labour “believes that art and culture gives form to our hopes and aspirations and defines our heritage as a nation. The arts allow us to celebrate our common humanity in the creation and celebration of beauty. The arts should belong to all and be open to all to take part in.

“We will guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education so that every young person has access to cultural activity and the arts by strengthening creative education in schools and after-school clubs.

“Institutions that receive arts funding will be required to open up their doors to young people, and we will work with public bodies to rebalance arts funding across the country.”

Labour reaffirms its commitment to universal free admission to museums and galleries.

Arguing that creativity “is the powerhouse of a prosperous economy” it pledges to “increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries” and “create a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries, with a membership drawn from all sectors and regions.”

Liberal Democrats

They “understand that arts, creative industries and culture are crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life” and add that the creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years.

They “are proud of the arts in Britain and will support them properly, working to deliver access for all, regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, age, belief, sexuality or disability”.

They “believe the arts have an essential role in our education system and will work to encourage creativity in our schools and universities”.

They, too, will, maintain free access to national museums and galleries while giving them “greater autonomy”.

They will “support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses”.

"They used to call it the moon" exhibition at the Baltic
"They used to call it the moon" exhibition at the Baltic

Green Party

They pledge to “increase government arts funding by £500m a year to restore the cuts made since 2010 and reinstate proper levels of funding for local authorities, helping to keep local museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries open”.

They will reduce VAT to 5% for live performances, work to support fair pay productions in the arts, support initiatives to make the arts and sports accessible to all, and set targets for participation in sports by women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in particular.


They will create a Minister of State for Heritage and Tourism, fuel regeneration in seaside areas by bestowing Seaside Town status and maintain their Save the Pub campaign, offering tax breaks to encourage micro-breweries and allowing pubs and clubs to open smoking rooms.

They “will promote a unifying British culture, open to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values”.

They will declare St George’s Day, April 23, a bank holiday in England and St David’s Day, March 1, a bank holiday in Wales.


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