Labour warning on Arts access

Dugher suggests new conditions on grants

Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher has suggested that arts funding may be made conditional on arts organisations reaching more working class children.

In an interview with the New Statesman. Dugher who took up the culture portfolio after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, said he would examine making public funding "absolutely conditional" on arts organisations improving access for working class children.

Arts organisations’ outreach programmes would be reviewed and audited every year to ensure the targets are being met.

He added that Labour's review of arts and culture investment, announced at this year's conference, would examine funding to ensure that every child can learn an instrument and how to make creative education more of a priority for school inspectors. the review would also look at ways in which schools in disadvantaged areas could forge better links with local cultural organisations and increase the work experience opportunities offered to working class children.

In his interview, Dugher cited statistics which showed the gap in participation between working class pupils and those from affluent backgrounds. Research by Ipsos MORI found that 70 per cent of children from non-graduate families spend fewer than three hours a week on cultural activity, compared to more than three hours a week for 80 per cent of those from graduate families.

Dugher attacked the Coalition government for cutting arts teacher training places and abolishing Creative Partnerships.  This had led to a drop in the number of primary school children taking part in cultural and arts activities. A report by the Royal Schools of Music exam board found that 40 per cent of children from disadvantaged backgrounds had never played an instrument and said they had no opportunity to learn at school, he said.

"There’s a massive, massive problem out there and it disproportionately hurts people from disadvantaged backgrounds. As someone who came from a working class background, who represents a very working class constituency, I think how we make sure that we’re doing everything we can to improve access to arts and culture for working class people is a massive priority."

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