Labour has come under fire after a message was tweeted by the party confirming that it would uphold the £180m slashed from the Arts Council budget by the Tories. They stated that the party would not reverse Tory cuts to culture spending if it wins the general election.
David Cameron’s government claimed on Monday that under Labour plans, the party would spend an additional £83m, cancelling previous cuts to the Arts Council budget – which funds theatres, museums and other cultural institutions, around the country. Labour quickly denied the claim, saying on Twitter: “Tory dossier says Labour will cancel cuts to the arts budget. We won’t.” Without thinking this through, Labour has ignited a backlash from its own supporters who retaliated that Labour has “a philistine approach to the arts”.
The television producer Simon Blackwell creator of, The Thick of It and Peep Show, tweeted a link to the Labour announcement, sardonically adding: “New year, election year, a time of wide-eyed hope and the promise of new beginnings.”
Director of the Art Fund, Stephen Deuchar, warned that cuts to local authority budgets in particular had put intense pressure on local museums, galleries and cultural institutions, Mr Deuchar added he hoped both parties would see the “underlying social and economic impact” of arts funding.
Labour quickly responded by saying that their plans would be better that the Conservative alternative.“What would be disastrous for the future of the arts is another Tory government which would continue to devalue creativity in education and which would take public spending back to levels seen before the Arts Council had even been conceived of,” she stated. “We would ensure that we reinstate the importance of arts in education and we would look creatively at how we can rebalance available resources more fairly across the regions.”
In his first interview since taking office as Labour’s new shadow culture minister, Chris Bryant told the Guardian that, “one of his first priorities if he were to take office would be to encourage diversity and fairer funding in the arts” He added that Labour would address the ‘Cultural drought’ afflicting areas outside of London”. encouraging people to hire people from a diversity of backgrounds.