Ed Vaizey – 2013 Speech to the Local Government Association Conference


Below is the text of a speech made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Ed Vaizey, to the Local Government Association Conference on 7th March 2013.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’d like to thank Flick Rea for her kind introduction and for inviting me to speak at your annual conference, bringing together so many of you who work so hard to promote British culture, heritage, tourism and sport.

These are not easy times to be in Government, at either national or local level. Faced with a crippling budget deficit, we are faced with difficult choices, some of which are painful to make. But we have to cut our cloth.

But unique challenges also bring unique opportunities. While we must all learn how to do more with less, it offers us the chance to think differently about how we go about delivering. Yesterday’s model may not necessarily be the right template for tomorrow.

That said, our creative and cultural sector is in rude health. The success of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Cultural Olympiad demonstrated to the world the richness of what it is to be British in the 21st Century, with all its quirks and eccentricity.

That’s why our creative and cultural sector is such a vital element in delivering economic growth, by encouraging economic investment through tourism and business. We have seen this at the Sage and Baltic in Gateshead, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and the Liverpool City of Culture. These are perfect examples of local regeneration being driven by culture.

So in tough economic times, the Government is committed to safeguarding and nurturing our investment in culture, heritage and sport.

In order to do this, we restored the share of arts and heritage funding from the National Lottery from 16% to 20% each. This increased chunk, combined with growing Lottery sales, means Arts Council England is now projected to receive £262 million in 2015, that’s over £100 million more than it received prior to May 2010.

The Heritage Lottery Fund too, is now projected to receive £379 million in 2015, £160 million more than prior to 2010.

And Sport England’s projected income will be £235 million compared with £134m prior to 2010.

This all means that almost £3 billion will go to the arts over the lifetime of this Parliament, a billion in Lottery funding combined with almost two billion in direct Government funding.

But state support is only one side of the coin, so to speak. Arts, culture and heritage cannot exist in isolation at a time of unprecedented economic challenges. As I said a moment ago, we must seize this opportunity to take a fresh look at how we deliver.

That’s why the Government is supporting the sector to develop a stronger emphasis on philanthropy, including the £100m Catalyst Fund with Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We’ve also introduced a reduced rate of inheritance tax from 40% to 36% for those estates where 10% or more is left to charity, to encourage legacy giving to cultural organisations. This was also the focus of one of three reports published by the Government at the end of 2012, alongside proposals to boost fundraising capacity outside of London, and exploring the scope for harnessing digital technology.

The pursuit of philanthropy is not a sticking plaster solution. It is about the pursuit of a long-term strategy to strengthen the financial resilience of the cultural sector.

In the case of endowments, this might take a century to bear full fruit, and it is for that very reason we must get cracking, to promote a broader culture of giving.

It is our ambition that that the four strands; philanthropy, earned income, commercial revenues, and state funding; brought together, will in turn attract other sources of investment.

I see so many excellent examples of how this partnership approach, combined with fresh thinking, is delivering results.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda is a perfect example of how edgy, innovative and publicly-supported art can flourish into a critical and commercial hit.

It took seven years of development by the RSC to create Matilda. Public subsidy enabled the company to take the risk on two brilliant writers, new to musicals. Today, total sales now exceed £24 million, with the advance standing at £4.5 million. It is the latest in a long line of valuable cultural exports that emerged as a result of public investment.

That’s why I can assure you that culture and the arts are important to the Government. It seems ridiculous that I would have to state such a self-evident truth. I believe it is regrettable to observe some of the scaremongering, suggesting our arts and cultural sector is somehow “at risk.”

So where does all this rubbish suggesting: “The Arts are in Crisis,” come from? Let’s look at the facts:

This year’s Arts Development UK survey, looking at local authority arts spending, found that the average local authority budget for the arts is a fraction under £385,000 – an increase in cash terms on last year’s levels.

Every £1 spent by local authorities on the arts brings in an extra £3.83 of additional funding. That suggests leverage funding of almost £1.5 million per local authority.

Local authorities remain one of the major funders of arts in England and Wales, with an estimated spend of £134 million on direct arts services.

During the five years of this parliament, Arts Council of England will put more than £90 million into the 28 English regional producing theatres.

And in 2011 a £45 million Strategic Touring Programme was launched, to bring arts to people all around the country not just those in main centres.

Plus the £37 million Creative People and Places fund will focus investment in parts of the country where involvement in the arts is below average.

And just yesterday I announced that 11 areas of the UK are bidding to become this country’s City of Culture in 2017.

British culture in crisis? I don’t think so.

In this context I welcome the LGA’s publication on the relationship between arts and growth. It demonstrates that where local authorities recognise this relationship, investment at a local level has been maintained. Arts and heritage and its links with tourism are fundamental to supporting growth.

To give you an example of this: Milton Keynes Council invested £197,000 in the 2012 Summer of Culture and International Festival, which in turn levered an additional £1 million from participating organisations. The total economic impact is estimated to be £6.4 million.

Another is the 2010 economic impact study of the Anvil Arts Trust in Basingstoke, which runs The Anvil, The Haymarket and The Forge. I highlight this one not simply because it is in the Secretary of State’s constituency, but rather because it gets most of its funding from the local council, which found that the Trust generates a gross economic impact of £6.2 million. The study went some way to help councillors understand the importance of Anvil Arts as a sizeable economic entity, generating income and jobs.

And in their year as European City of Culture, Liverpool received 9.7 million additional visitors to the city which in turn resulted in over £735 million in additional visitor spend. Derry-Londonderry hope to have 2800 tourism jobs by 2020 as a legacy from their year as the first UK City of Culture.

Yesterday I announced the 11 cities and places which have put themselves forward to be the UK’s City of Culture in 2017. They are the ones that “Get It”. It’s only a shame that more don’t.

The recently signed partnership between VisitEngland and Arts Council England will result in both organisations jointly championing England’s cultural offer, enabling us to better co-ordinate activity, and supporting destinations with the potential to grow their economies by nurturing local culture.

Last November I met the Local Authority Heritage Champions at Painters Hall, and was particularly impressed at the work they do to ensure that heritage is underpinning their local authorities’ plans.

They are yet more examples of innovative thinking and working in partnership, to deliver real economic benefit.

Our rich heritage is rightly a source of great national pride. Our heritage is our hallmark and makes the UK distinctive in a globalised world. It is a tremendous draw for visitors too: 40% of leisure visitors to the UK cite our heritage as the major drawcard, a sign of our heritage delivering very real economic benefits. The heritage tourism sector is worth £12.4 billion a year to the UK, not only in entrance fees, but in pounds spent in shops, hotels and restaurants. That means jobs.

A fine example is Wakefield which has become a major visitor destination for Yorkshire. The area offers excellent attractions including the Hepworth Wakefield, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Theatre Royal, the National Coal Mining Museum for England and the National Trust’s Nostell Priory. These attractions combined received over a million visits in 2011/12, delivering £323m to the local economy, and creating 9,000 jobs.

So in growing our economy, our heritage and history give us an edge. And having an edge can sometimes make the difference between winning and losing.

But innovation and fresh thinking is delivering results in other parts of the cultural sector also: our libraries, where digital technology is being exploited to support economic growth and development.

Now, libraries; or the public library service to be precise, are another area which are occasionally deemed to be “In Crisis.”

So let’s look at some examples. Libraries in Northamptonshire are hosting Enterprise Hubs offering business start-up advice, job clubs and training workshops which are supporting the economic growth and development of the county.

In fact the concept has been so successful, the council is planning to extend the concept by setting up a ‘hatchery’ space in their libraries, providing business incubation for up to one year.

To help encourage young entrepreneurs they are allocating one of the Library business spaces to under 25s.

I’m delighted our library service continues to thrive and modernise. Local Authorities invested £820 million in libraries last year. Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester are all making major investments in their central libraries, and Birmingham’s will soon be the largest library in Europe when it opens this year.

In the spirit of fresh thinking, the Public Service Mutual model is offering another way to maintain the delivery of library, and other services. In York, work is underway developing the first staff-led, public service mutual in library and archive services, with help from the £10 million Mutuals Support Programme.

It’s an impressive undertaking: York’s libraries and archive service has around 120 staff and a budget of £2.4 million a year, providing 17 libraries, as well as archive and local history services. The project is developing a final business plan and aims to get council approval to spin out in June, and we will be sharing what can be learned from the project with other providers.

To support this growth, the Government has appointed a specialist adviser on libraries to work with local authorities and Arts Council England. I encourage you to engage with Yinnon Ezra over the coming months to consider different approaches to library service provision, and new ways of thinking about sustainability.

The Arts Council has established a £6 million fund to support culture in libraries. We have published the CIPFA comparative profile reports for the first time. We are piloting automatic membership for school children and young people.

And we are supporting a pilot £1.2 million project to turn six libraries into ‘incubators of innovation’ – to see them roll-out business support to towns and villages.

Libraries “In Crisis”? Again, I don’t think so.

But there can be no finer place to discuss arts and heritage than here in Chester with its rich cultural history.

Since becoming a new authority in 2009 Cheshire West and Chester has developed a clear plan to make the area economically and culturally richer by using culture as a catalyst to drive economic, social and community regeneration.

They will utilise the cultural offer to enhance the attractiveness and distinctive nature of market towns and rural area within the Borough, with a vision to deliver a new theatre and library complex, a Roman museum, and improvements to the visual arts infrastructure.

It’s yet another example of ambition and innovation delivering both cultural benefits and economic growth. And yet another example of the arts in the UK waving, not drowning.

Thank you.