LGA /CLOA Culture, Tourism and Sport annual Conference & Exhibition 2012, Cardiff
8 March 2012
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I'm delighted to be with all of you today.
And where better to be talking about culture, tourism and sport than here in Cardiff.
What a pleasure it is to listen to world class music in the Wales Millennium Centre.
It’s great to find yourself caught up in the crowd on the day of a Rugby match. Everyone - all ages out on the streets, sport in a terrific family atmosphere.
And how lovely it is to be able to stroll by the beauty of the Bay and have a meal in one of the many restaurants.
I know you'll have a great time at the conference because Cardiff always gives visitors such a warm welcome.
And when it comes to culture, as Neil Kinnock famously reminded us in 1987, describing his predecessors from the valleys...
‘Those people who could sing, and play, and recite and write poetry, those people who could make wonderful, beautiful things with their hands...’.
Culture is not just for a few – it’s for everyone.
Culture is not just at the heart of Wales but in communities throughout the UK.
We can't really imagine our lives without music, without film, without TV and without art. It’s important for each of us as individuals; for the sense of identity and sense of place.
If our government, at local and national level, is to reflect the aspirations and concerns of our society, and particularly young people, culture must be at its heart. In my constituency of Camberwell and Peckham, young people are not only massive consumers of art in every form – many want to work in the creative industries in future.
So, there is a democratic imperative for us to represent what our constituents feel so passionately about – not just for fun, but for their own ambitions for the future.
It’s central to our society but it’s also central to the future of our economy.
And all around the world we are renowned for our arts and culture, or film and music – it’s something we're good at, something where we are world leaders.
And that's why, when we were in government, we strove to support culture and sport and the creative industries:
• bringing in free entry to museums and galleries
• boosting the film industry with tax credits
• trebling the funding for the Arts Council
• bringing in the Digital Economy Act
• supporting creativity and sport in education
• and bringing the Olympics to Britain.
And because culture, and sports must be for everyone, your role in local government is crucial – from supporting community arts and sports, to backing flagship developments like
· Salford's Media City
· Gateshead's Baltic Centre
· and Margate's Turner Contemporary.
But this is a challenging time for culture. You all know that we think the government's deficit reduction is too far and too fast. And our fear is that the arts and culture will suffer. The public spending cuts will mean
• some children just won't ever get the chance to develop their creative potential
• the arts will retrench and areas outside London will be hit hardest
• and threaten the potential for jobs and economic growth which can come from our creative industries.
Local government faces difficult times
I know that the work you are committed to is made harder
• with the cuts from the Arts Council, whose own budget has been cut by 30%
• with the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies, which helped draw in investment and stimulate creative growth in our regions
• with the ending of the Future Jobs Fund which helped young people get work in the creative industries.
And of course your own budgets in local government are under great pressure – in Birmingham City Council you are having to cut £312m over 2 years – and that makes for very difficult choices as councillors face deciding on cuts to vital services for the elderly and the disabled.
The reality is really tough choices for local government.
Some will argue that, now the good times are over, arts are a luxury we can no longer afford.
But the challenge is, despite the tough times, to sustain the commitment in local government to culture and the arts.
Because the argument is so strong.
Because culture is at the heart of young people's lives, and the life of our communities.
Because the creative industries are key to our economic recovery.
So it’s important for central government put the creative industries at the heart of plans for jobs and growth.
· The creative economy has grown faster than any other sector - accounting for around 2m jobs
· It accounts for economic output of at least £60b per year - more than 8% of UK GDP
· Our creative industries have the potential to grow at double the rate of any other sector
· They accounted for £17b of exports - the second biggest global exporter after the US
Five point plan
One of the things I place greatest importance on is seeing the culture agenda move beyond being something just for DCMS – to something which is integrated across government departments – particularly the Treasury, the Business Department and the Schools Department.
I'm working closely with the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, the Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna and the Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg to forge our 5 point plan for jobs and growth in the creative industries.
Through the course of the conversations, I and my colleague Dan Jarvis – Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Arts and Creative Industries – have been having with you in local government and people in the creative industries it’s clear that there are some themes emerging.
· Access to finance – making the City realise that creative industries are a good investment
· Protection of copyright – so there's a sound basis for investment
· Support for exports – when the Prime Minister leads a high level business delegation overseas, I want to see the creative industries right in there
· Young people and skills – making sure that the next generation have the right education and skills – to foster the designers, the technicians, the musicians and the animators of the future
· And of course, a regional strategy for growth. Everyone agrees we need to build a more balanced economy for the future – not just less reliant on financial services but also less reliant on London. Just as our reach needs to be global it needs to be across all regions of the UK. So there has to be a proper regional strategy for growth in the creative industries. Which is where we can all work together.
I know you will make the case for culture and strive to protect it. That’s what local government has always done. That’s what we want to support you in doing and what we want to build our plans for government on.
In the face of a threat to the cultural sector we need a united and creative response: a creative fightback.
And the challenge is not just to protect, but to keep alive the spirit of innovation:
· Like Nottingham's New Art Exchange
· Like Animation Exeter, which brings local artists and school children together to develop animation skills,
· Like the work that Southwark Council is just embarking on, taking community halls beyond bingo, billiards and fish and chip suppers – to pop up cinema.
The creative industries are also a key driver for tourism – which is a huge provider of jobs, 1.3 million – and an important bringer in of foreign currency – worth £105 billion to the UK economy each year. And this is all over the country, mostly small and medium sized businesses.