Summary of party manifestos: what they mean for arts, culture and creativity

With polling three weeks away, we’ve summarised the main arts policies in party manifestos.

This week the parties launched their manifestos for the 2015 General Election. Overall there was greater prominence for the arts, culture and the creative industries than in 2010. With less than three weeks to polling day, we have summarised the headline arts policies and included links to the manifestos so you can examine them in more detail.

The Conservative manifesto commits to maintaining free access to museums and galleries and supporting plans for the Factory in Manchester, an India Gallery at Manchester Museum, a Great Exhibition in the North and a new concert hall in London. They also promise to maintain and potentially extend tax reliefs for the arts and creative industries and deliver free Wi-Fi and support for e-books in libraries.

The arts section in Labour’s manifesto opens with a commitment to a universal entitlement to a creative education for all young people through schools and after-school clubs. They also mention the “need to help our children develop the creativity, self-awareness and emotional skills they need to get on in life” in the education section. Institutions that receive arts funding would need “to open their doors to young people” and Labour would “work with public bodies to rebalance arts funding across the country”. Their other arts policies are to continue free access to museums and galleries, introduce a Prime Minister’s Committee on the Arts, Culture and Creative Industries and deliver more creative apprenticeships.

The Liberal Democrats include arts and creativity in their policies on ‘building a sustainable economy’ and commit to supporting creative skills, apprenticeships and small businesses and cultural tourism. They also pledge to maintain free museums and galleries while giving them greater autonomy. Arts and culture inform their thinking in other areas too: there is a commitment to ‘promote evidence-based ‘social prescribing’ of sport, arts and other activity’ in healthcare and to nurture creativity in schools.

UKIP devotes two separate sections to matters relating to arts and culture. They have a section labelled ‘British Culture’ which you can link to here and a section labelled ‘Heritage and Tourism’ which you can link to here. Specific arts policies include the abolition of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with responsibilities folded into other departments. They would establish a Minister for Heritage and Tourism in the Cabinet office and support local arts projects in seaside towns.

The Greens promise to reduce VAT to 5% for live performances, give local authorities powers to support live performances in the arts with local funding and support initiatives to make culture available to all. They were the only party to include a specific spending commitment on the arts – to increase arts funding by £500m a year – but you can link to the overall spending plans for the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP here.

Arts funding is devolved in Scotland and Wales. Plaid Cymru published their manifesto on 31 March and the SNP are expected to launch theirs on 20 April.

Source: Arts Council

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