The speech made by Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, in Manchester on 2 October 2023.
Conference, it is fantastic to be with you here today in Manchester.
The home of Media City, Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That, United and City.
Manchester is one of our capitals of culture.
I say that as a proud Northerner.
Albeit from Leeds.
Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool.
These cities have so much culture, creativity and potential.
Today I want to talk to you about the huge potential of our cultural and creative industries and how this potential has been harnessed by Conservative government after Conservative government.
And I want to talk about how we can, and will, continue to maximise this potential in the years to come.
And for me believing in the power of potential, believing in our country, in our people, in our industries, that’s why I am a Conservative.
And just to illustrate that I wanted to begin with a story of a brilliant woman called Yetta who understood the importance of potential.
And maximising it.
Her parents were Russian, and they came to this country as refugees, fleeing persecution.
And despite many drawbacks of that age, being Jewish, the daughter of immigrants and a woman.
Yetta ignored obstacles and focussed instead on the opportunity she had been given to be brought up here in the UK and in her very own extensive potential.
She became the first female barrister in Leicester and practised at the bar until she was 80.
Yetta, was my grandmother, and on every visit she reminded me of the line from a Robert Browning poem.
‘A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for’.
It’s a line about believing in our ability to succeed.
Not just settling for the status quo.
About maximising opportunity and potential.
Which summed up her life.
And like her, I want to maximise the potential of all those sectors that I represent.
Right now, we are in a Golden Age for British Culture.
We unambiguously dominate in all forms of our creative industries, globally.
In Television, UK Programmes are being exported across the world.
We’ve had 74 British Oscar winners since 2010.
Musically Adele, Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles continue to dominate the global charts.
Last month an executive at Warner Bros told me that when he meets others from the music industry aboard they say ‘how do we be more like the UK’.
Football is a major global export. I challenge any of you in this room to tell me that on their holidays abroad you haven’t met a waiter, a taxi driver or a tourist on a beach who hasn’t shared their support for an English team – and it’s not always United.
Last holiday I met someone who supported Grimsby Town.
Conference, this success is no accident.
It’s the result of the hard work and ingenuity of our creative industries and the talent of many impressive individuals…
It’s also a result of consecutive Conservative Governments, who have recognised this potential.
Since 2012 we have supported the success of these industries with tax reliefs across the board
…from film to animation to video games to theatre…
…these tax reliefs have helped to attract significant global investment into the UK.
And when times were really hard – we stepped up.
During Covid a Cultural Recovery Fund – £1.57 billion which supported nearly 220,000 jobs and 5,000 organisations and protected our cultural heritage and creative industries
… our Film and tv restart scheme supported over 1,000 productions, over 100,000 roles for cast and crew and over £3 billion of production expenditure…
We know that this cumulative support has driven success.
High End Television saw a total production spend in the UK of £4.3 billion in 2022…
Up from just under £390 million pounds in 2013 the year the tax relief was introduced.
That’s a tenfold increase.
Jobs that would not have been filled. Stories not told. Creativity taken elsewhere.
Without that Conservative support.
But Conference we cannot rest on our laurels.
Our mission as a government is to grow the economy, creating better jobs and opportunity right across the country.
We are making the necessary long term decisions to get the country on the right path for the future.
The Creative Industries are one of the five high-growth tax sectors we’re targeting.
And we have set lofty ambitions:
● Growing the creative industries by an extra £50 billion
● Creating one million extra jobs – all over the country –
● And delivering a creative careers promise that builds a pipeline of talent
● All by 2030
And we have a plan to deliver this – The Creative Industries Sector Vision…
…published in June and backed by an initial £77 million of funding which we expect to bring in £250 million of private investment.
With further support coming down the track.
…and we will ensure that young people who want a career in the creative or cultural industries can develop the necessary skills.
And Conference this just simply wouldn’t have happened under Labour.
They are always focused on the short term.
They talk the talk, but they never deliver.
They talk about supporting creativity but let’s look at their actions when they have actually had an opportunity to deliver.
They talk about growth but Labour voted against the introduction of every single one of our creative industries tax reliefs
They talk about creativity in education but it was a Labour Education Secretary, David Blunkett, who slimmed down the statutory curriculum for creative education and told teachers to teach fewer arts subjects.
Today we only need to look to Wales to see what would happen if Keir Starmer got into power.
Cutting spending to the arts despite receiving the largest settlement from the UK Government in the history of devolution.
Conference, for me ensuring we maximise the potential of our industries is critical.
Because this is maximising our opportunities for the future
Creativity in our schools, jobs for everyone, culture in our towns and cities.
But whilst our potential is important
So is our past,
…our history, our culture and our heritage.
In recent years the very essence of our history and the values that attach to this
Have come under threat.
There are some that want to cancel – those who seek to erase our history
…Shutdown a view they disagree with, rather than argue against it.
Those who would apply a two dimensional filter of moralist outrage on actions or statements, rather than understanding the nuance of language, or the context of history.
These people cast Churchill as villain, not as the man who kept Britain free.
Unlike some of those in the Labour Party, I am not ashamed of our great country’s culture, its people or its past. I do not want to bring down our statues or our monuments,
I believe in the British people.
What some call culture wars, I say, is standing up for our principles.
pride, tolerance, understanding, learning
Respect, fairness and common sense…
That’s why the Sports Strategy we published in July sets out a common sense approach to trans inclusion in women’s sports – protecting women and the integrity of women’s sport, with fairness at its core.
That’s why this week I wrote about my opposition to publishers sanitising books
For not erasing our history…
And it’s why I will be shortly publishing new guidance on retain and explain for statues – so that rather than tearing down our history we can understand it.
Conference, I believe that we are lucky to live in the greatest country in the world.
A country rich in history
Where those within it have an innate and unlimited potential
It is our job in Government to harness that.
And we have, and we will continue to do so.
Because it is only through belief in our country, pride in our people, optimism for what lies ahead, that we can deliver a better future for our children.
Conference, I believe that the best is yet to come.
Because as Yetta would have said ‘what’s a heaven for’.