I'm not known for a particular interest in policy, nor do I tend to get involved too much in it. Normally, that is. However, last Thursday evening, I had the unusual experience of attending a Liberal Democrat policy launch.
"The Power of Creativity", the Party's new policy publication on the Arts and Creativity, was launched at a star-studded event in the House of Lords, and attended by a surprising large number of creative artists from all fields, key players in arts and culture administration from across the country and a broad cross-section of our Parliamentary teams in both Houses.
I don't intend to name those present, on the grounds that they may not wish to be publicly outed as Liberal Democrats, indeed some of them may not consider themselves to be Liberal Democrats. What was important was that they were, at the very least, interested to hear what we had to say. They certainly filled a large venue.
The paper is the work of our Culture, Media and Sport team, naturally, and includes a foreword by Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury (and yes, she is related to Helena). Jane and her team have worked incredibly hard on this, and I am very impressed by the quality of the end product.
One fact that I learned, and was certainly something that I wouldn't have expected, was that the first chairman of the Arts Council was one John Maynard Keynes. Yes, that John Maynard Keynes who, in 1946, set out the new organisation's vision as being;
"to create an environment, to breed a spirit, to cultivate an opinion, to offer a stimulus to such purpose that the artist and the public can each sustain and live on the other in that union which has occasionally existed in the past at the great ages of a communal civilized life."
To precis, the paper includes proposals to:
- Change the way the National Lottery is taxed to generate more money for arts and heritage as well as for the Treasury
- Provide support for new start-ups in the creative industries and enable more businesses to offer internships and apprenticeships
- Offer all our children a more creative education by freeing up the curriculum and increasing the amount of time trainee primary school teachers spend learning about the arts and creativity
- Make it easier for small venues to host live music events by reducing bureaucracy that restricts small venues
- Make sure the regions and cities outside London do not miss out by reviewing the Arts Council England’s funding structures and creating a new administrative status for national museums that will enable them to be more enterprising and independent
- Open up the Government Art Collection for greater public use