Labour unveil Corbyn’s plans for rescuing the UK’s arts funding

“Any teacher will tell you that a child learning music at school is likely to do better”

In two separate articles published yesterday (6 June) by Music Week, Conservative MP and Culture Minister Matt Hancock and Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson were questioned about what changes they would make to funding for the arts – with a focus on music in particular.

Hancock told the publication that the Conservatives will “introduce a Cultural Development Fund” to ensure “arts funding gets to places that maybe haven’t had their fair share in the past so that it can support development and reach all parts of the country”. On the exact figure, he said, “We haven’t put a figure on it.”

And on the issue on how effectively artists will be able to tour UK cities in the wake of Brexit, Hanson took a selective approach: “We’re going to have to have a new immigration system and we’ve got to make sure the brightest and the best can still come here”.

Recently, Corbyn made headlines for pledging a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to revamp the arts. In his interview with Music Week, Watson detailed how Labour will “introduce an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England – a £160 million per year boost for schools to invest in projects that will support engagement in creative and cultural activities over the longer term.” He went on to say, “It’s no coincidence that 75% of classical BRIT award winners attended a private school.”

The Cultural Capital Fund has been pledged in response to the cuts overseen by the Tories. “The Tories have overseen a collapse in creative education in our schools. There are now 600 fewer music teachers in our schools than there were in 2010 and the numbers of teaching hours of arts subjects has fallen by nearly 38,000.”

“Under the Tories the arts have been one of the first targets for cuts. The Arts Council, local government and education have all had their budgets slashed contributing to the hundreds of millions the Tories have cut from the arts since 2010. We will end cuts to local authorities”.

Furthermore, in an interview in The Independent, Jeremy Corbyn explained his hopes for giving every schoolchild the access to an instrument, stymieing the cuts that have been made to school funding: “What I’m interested in is the sense of expression that music gives people, hence the points I’ve been making endlessly about musical instruments for children.”

“Any teacher will tell you that a child learning music at school is likely to do better at a lot of other things because there is a discipline in learning music, a sense of rhythm, a sense of timing involved,” he continued. “Most children live in places where there isn’t space to put a piano if they’ve got one… our schools have often diminished the number of orchestras… cut all that back, so I am very keen to change that.”

In Labour’s Culture manifesto, he recognised, “Too few of us fulfil our artistic ambition.”

Read Hancock’s interview here, and Watson’s here.