Following a Liberal Democrat debate in the House of Lords yesterday, the party has challenged the Government to do more to protect the UK’s vital cultural sector.
The Government claims it wants to ‘level up’ and ‘build back better’, but has failed to give the UK cultural sector the support it needs to do this.
Their failure to resolve disagreements over visas with the EU has left musicians and performers unable to tour, with Sir Elton John wading into the debate to call for action to resolve this.
The Liberal Democrats are calling for greater financial support for cultural institutions and freelancers, a halt to attempts to privatise Channel 4, and an agreement to secure visa-free travel for musical performers and artists across Europe.
Baroness Lynne Featherstone, who led the debate, said:
"Today’s debate highlighted the huge benefit the cultural industry brings to the UK. It is worth over £115bn to our economy and is one of the quickest growing sectors, growing five times faster than the rest of the economy before the pandemic hit.
"The extension of tax relief to cultural venues in the budget was a welcome move, but fails to meet the scale of the huge challenges facing this vital industry. The Government must do more to turbocharge this sector and ensure it can rebuild.
"The Conservatives have shown they don’t value or consider this industry important. If they did, they would have resolved the EU Visa issues which has left performers and musicians struggling with mountains of paperwork.
“Our children and young people must not be fodder in educational sausage factories where creative thinking cannot flourish. This is a moment of opportunity to build back better and genuinely level up our communities. The Government must grasp it."
Commenting after the debate, Liberal Democrat DCMS spokesperson Jamie Stone MP said:
"This Government has established an utter disregard for our nation's creative sector. It's clear that it has never been a priority from the very top of Government, as shown by there being 11 different Secretaries of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport over as many years.
"Culture is our secret weapon. Our soft power success. But because this Government has drawn a false distinction between art and science, this power has been time and time again underwritten and undermined.
"I fully endorse Baroness Featherstone's calls on the Government to respect, capitalise, and simply believe in the creative sector. This industry will not survive on handouts, like the Cultural Recovery Fund, that are dished out last minute. It is time - it has been for years - to prioritise British art and culture."