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The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, I shall deal with it later. I hope that the Lindisfarne Gospels are returned to where they belong. They are the greatest pieces of 8th century work belonging to Europe.
Lord Crathorne: My Lords, it is a pleasure to speak in this debate which was so eloquently introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, and to affirm the importance of the arts in the life of the nation. In a debate with so many speakers it is difficult to cover new ground, but I wish to discuss two points which have been mentioned only briefly. I shall begin close to home.
This morning, about 50 members of the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group went to the Tate Gallery to see the wonderful exhibition of paintings by Bonnard. It was truly a life enhancing experience. I mention that group, which was earlier referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, because of all the organisations within Westminster it is most concerned with the subject of today's debate. As secretary of the group, I receive many letters stating how much the visits and events we organise enhance the lives of MPs and Peers at Westminster. I am glad to say that I have received letters to that effect from my noble friend Lord Renton. Since the election, new Members of Parliament have been slow to join, but the numbers are now increasing.
This morning at the Tate, we all welcomed the Budget news that money would be made available to some museums in order to prevent them having to charge entrance fees. The all-party group has been working hard on that problem with the Secretary of State. We are delighted about the announcement and feel that we can claim a small amount of credit for it.
Having called attention to the importance of arts in the life of Parliament, I shall move to a different point; the built heritage. I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, referred to the built heritage and left us in no doubt about this feelings. Architecture is one of the arts and is as important as painting, opera and even film making. In many ways, it is the most important of the arts because we are surrounded and influenced by architecture. We are conditioned by our environment. I sometimes wonder whether there is a connection between the fact that we in this Chamber are so well behaved and the exceptional environment in which we operate. In addition, I am pleased about the improvement to the Lord Chancellor's environment.
The present Government have stated that they are committed to new design and architecture. This is fine. However, they have been silent about historic buildings and have not sufficiently indicated the fact that they value buildings of the past. Perhaps I should declare an interest as chairman of the Georgian Group, which is one of the statutory bodies charged with protecting Georgian buildings. There is a painful contrast between the amount of money and attention being lavished on the Millennium Dome at Greenwich, as mentioned by other noble Lords, and the vague financial commitment to secure the future of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich which was recently designated a World Heritage Site. That group of buildings is superb and the Government must consider committing money to it from somewhere.
Another case which comes to mind is the Royal William Victualling Yard in Plymouth. It is another magnificent complex of buildings which seemed destined to become a retail shopping outlet with backing from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. That is not the best use for those buildings and a more acceptable scheme appears to have been overlooked.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Puttnam for initiating today's important debate. I believe that the arts are integral to our society. Artistic activity can inspire people's knowledge and imagination and it is important that this is recognised.
To date, the contributions that I have made in your Lordships' House have been in the arena of human rights and equality, but I shall depart from that in today's speech. In the short time available to me, I should like to comment on the importance of development and investment in the arts and in particular the importance of investment in new writing. I must at this point declare an interest as one of the directors of Hampstead Theatre.
Whenever I travel, I am always reminded of the way in which British theatre leads the world. I strongly believe that we need to find ways in which we can build on its worldwide reputation and success. In order to maintain that success, we must invest in development. We need adequate investment in the creative artist and in art form development as an entity in itself.
In recent years, many arts companies have paid less attention to experimentation and the nurturing of new talent because of financial constraints. That is having a particular impact on theatre. We need to support and promote talent as it emerges so that we continue to reap respect and admiration around the world. But it is also important to develop an appreciation of the arts among our young people and I would endorse the comments on the important relationship between art and education. For example, Hampstead Theatre recently made a new departure by producing a set of plays, all of them new writing, targeted at young people. To date, it has
In plays, big and bold statements can be made about how we live our lives, and that was certainly true in those plays. They can provide diverse groups of people with an opportunity to understand how others live, simply to enable them to see the other side of the question. They can open up new vistas, challenge our preconceived ideas and also provide us with a sense of community. They can help us to express our emotions. It was good to see those young people laugh, cry and be moved by the content of those plays.
Therefore, it is important that we celebrate the breadth and depth of the talent which exists. But in celebrating it, let us remember also that practical support must be given if our arts companies are to maintain their position in the worldwide market. For that to happen, we must invest in development and commit to the new.
We live in a diverse society, a society where it is important that majority and minority voices are heard and where minority cultures need to be respected. For those reasons, greater access to the arts is vital. That can be achieved only by a creative approach to funding and a serious debate about the sometimes, I believe, fake assumptions which are made about art which is popular. Because something is popular or commercial, it does not mean that it must be of poor quality. Money is one of the keys to access. Low prices make the arts available to those who can ill afford that luxury. But as important, it removes the barrier between the arts and those who have never felt their right to participate in them. It is important to create an environment which allows many rather than the few to participate in a diverse and rich range of activities.
I very much endorse the partnership approach. Let us not forget that there would be no performing arts in this country if artists, back-stage staff and all the personnel who look after and produce the work did not, in some way or other, contribute to that partnership. It is that partnership which will deliver greater access to the arts and will deliver also the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the rich diversity which is at the heart of our society. I very much hope that the Government will continue to support new developments and invest in the new.
There are a myriad of arguments--and noble Lords will have heard many of them--for having a thriving arts sector. In my comments, I should like to focus in particular on the economic aspect, not because I disparage the other aspects but simply because an industry which contributed £9.6 billion in 1996 to our country's exports must be taken seriously as an economic entity. Also, I do not propose to provide answers to questions. Rather, I wish to make points which can contribute to a wider debate.
It is a truism--but it is nevertheless true for all that--that we are living in an age of technological revolution. At the time, it is often very difficult to identify the characteristics of a revolution. But it is clear that at the centre of that revolution lies the value of intellectual property. Central to our nation's success in making the most of the intellectual property that we can generate is creativity. And central to encouraging and promoting creativity is a thriving arts sector. Of course, that revolution is taking place in a world where our fellow citizens have more money and time than ever before.
Against such a background, we need a national debate about the role of the arts and creativity in society very much along the lines of the one that we had in this country in the 19th century about science and education. We must take forward that debate in as rounded a way as possible.
I believe that that is already starting. Some of your Lordships may remember in the last government the so-called "Cool Britannia" initiative which became a theme of the then opposition party's approach to the arts and those issues. We know what happened on 1st May and I do not wish to rehearse that particular piece of history. But the crucial question which we must ask ourselves is how we develop and encourage creativity and then exploit it so that here, in this country, we become winners in the next century.
There are a number of points at which we should look most carefully. One of the characteristics of creativity is that it is essentially anarchic and anti-establishment. It follows by definition that any political party which gains office becomes, by virtue of that act, part of the establishment. It is probably naive, and probably it will not happen, for governments to expect to receive a lot of gratitude from parts of the arts sector. It is the price that is paid for having a thriving arts sector.
Just as creativity and the arts are becoming economically more important, in turn they become engines of economic regeneration in the wider country. Last weekend, I was in the north-east of England and saw the "Gateshead Angel"--the "Angel of the North". Quite apart from any other consideration, how on earth could Gateshead have promoted itself to the extent it has by taking any other form of advertisement? In the north-east one sees projects such as the Baltic Flour Mills and the Sunderland glass museum which will be major employers in the locality. We have seen that in the north with the Tate in Liverpool. In a world where more travel will take place and people have more leisure, that is a way of creating jobs where they are needed.
The arts is a very important instrument of realpolitik for this country. After all, if it is not a tautology, the English language is the lingua franca of the globe. The Government put money into the World Service, as much as anything else, to increase their influence around the globe. The noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, referred to film. British films are admired everywhere. Mention has been made also of architecture. Our architects are some of the most esteemed anywhere in the world. We look
In all that, the role of the Government is very important. The principal benefits come from the Government being an enabler and a patron rather than a direct deliverer. The noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, mentioned William Morris as one of his heroes. He is also one of my heroes. In his essay Hopes and Fears for Art he said that gods and governments cannot help those who do not help themselves. We must try to ensure that in whatever patronage the Government can bestow, they bestow it wisely and bravely in the national interest. For example, in an article in The Times, written by my noble friend Lord Hurd of Westwell, he mentions specifically the spectacular new British embassy building in Berlin.
Having said that, I am still not convinced--and I speak looking back to my time in the then Department of National Heritage--that the administration and systems of government in this country are really addressing that problem as well as they should. On the one hand, there is the Department of Culture, Media and Sport but yet, in that general area, the DTI plays an important part. Those noble Lords who travel by Tube may have seen the poster for Powerhouse UK, which is about design. In turn, fashion is the responsibility of the DTI.
I am concerned also--I hope not in a destructive way--about the role of the Department for Education and Employment. I understand the financial constraints against which it operates. But if one looks at the activities of the arts sector, how much money is being spent on things which really should be paid for from the education budget rather than the arts budget? Of course, educational access is important but sometimes I suspect that educational access is being paid for by the arts part of our nation's budget when it should be paid for from the educational part of the budget. Again, if one looks at the lottery and the way that is operated, a lot of what is being done is entirely laudable and in the public interest. But it is providing funds for the DfEE.
In the context of education, historical perspective is very important. After all, things do not happen in the abstract. There is a need for the disciplined rigour of context, albeit that the new creation may be interpreted in a radical or unexpected manner or may quite simply be a rejection of the past. Today's enfants terribles will become tomorrow's old masters.
In many ways, I believe that the economic and political characteristics of the arts are similar to those of the environment. After all, in the early 1980s, greenery--if I may put it that way--was a radical political theme, but now it has become a mainstream one. Perhaps we may see the same here. Equally, the economics of this sector are difficult to measure. That poses problems for bean counters in the Treasury and elsewhere. The relationships between the payments and the benefits are not always so obvious. Again, if I may use a rural analogy, it is somewhat like my home area where subsidies are paid to hill farmers to benefit the Lake District and the visitors who go there on their holidays.
In an era where the state is, quite rightly, withdrawing from certain funding activities, how will the arts generate the money that is needed? We cannot have the arts without the necessary funding. Of course, there will be some central government money, some lottery money, some sponsorship and some money from what I might call "sales proceeds", be it the selling of pictures or the selling of tickets. But perhaps--and I put this forward knowing that it has been put forward by others--we ought to have some kind of US-style tax breaks.
The future presents a particular kind of problem for those who may not be successful in the arts. As the father of two daughters, it is not only a case of, "Would you put your daughter on the stage Mrs. Worthington?", it is also: would you want your daughter to marry an unsuccessful solicitor or an unsuccessful artist? I believe that the standard of living that one would get if married to the former would probably be rather better.
There are many important issues related to this topic. The great paradox is that, as the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said, digital technology is going, in certain respects, to revive the traditional Renaissance, humanist concept of education, linking the scientific and the creative. Without the creative, we shall not be able properly to exploit the scientific innovations which seem to be endemic to our age and at which we in this country are so good.
The Earl of Clancarty: My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, for instigating this important debate. It has been difficult to know how to react to the news of yesterday's Budget, after the extraordinary newspaper predictions at the weekend which raised the expectations of a lot of people in relation to the national museums and galleries. But now that the dust is settling things do look better than they did in December. I give a cautious welcome to the Government's initiative.
Can the Minister confirm that this is the beginning of a firm commitment to free all the national museums and, if so, what is the time-scale and the amounts of money involved? Can the Minister also give us some idea of the future position of anomalous museums, such as the Bradford Photography Museum? I understand that the extra £2 million to selected national galleries will help to maintain the status quo in terms of free admissions--this is clearly good, though I am worried that the conditions attached to this fund may allow a culture of commerce and finance to strengthen further its control on museums. The Government must now help the charging museums, with the one simple condition attached that their charges must be lifted.
As the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, has told us, there is also at present, as a result of government cuts, tremendous concern for the regional local authority museums, a large number of which now charge for admission. I would greatly welcome the extension of the legislation that already exists in Scotland where local authorities have,
That is interestingly-worded legislation, as the use of the phrase "cultural activities" appears to blur the distinction between consumption and production. Within the present structures this provision should be a bargain made among central government, local authorities and the people of the area, yet it seems clear that, with the latest round of cuts, central government is not keeping up its end of the bargain.
I want now to turn to another matter, and make a few observations on the problems of being an artist in Britain, in particular those artists who have survived--and have done so up to now--on benefits or a mixture of benefits and part-time work; and also on the nature of the work that they are carrying out, and its position within society.
As your Lordships are doubtless aware, and as we heard earlier, there is a growing rebellion among many pop musicians, writers, artists and others over the Government's plans for welfare to work. Successful pop musicians, for instance, have argued that they could not have reached the positions that they are now in without the long periods on benefit when they were free to experiment and develop their musical ideas--perhaps for 10 years or more. There are a number of ironies here: Tony Blair and his Government proclaim a vibrant contemporary culture but they would not be able to do so without those they laud having come through a particular system of support. Tony Blair has been erecting a "house of culture", but ignores or refuses to admit the foundation stones on which it is built. Another irony is the fact that those among creative artists who have the voice to be critical are precisely the successful ones, at least they are the commercially successful ones, in the Government's own terms of their assumed identification of art with commercial success.
But what about those artists who cannot or choose not to operate in a commercial sense, who are engaged in long-term--that is to say, lifelong--"independent" research, what in science is termed "blue skies research" but is also I believe extremely important in the arts? The long-term broadly non-commercial situation is a reality for the great majority of artists living and working in the UK. Extremely successful commercial artists are the exception rather than the rule.
What then of the work of the artist? From the artist's point of view, does Gordon Brown mean that he will make the work you already do pay, or does he mean that he will make you do work which pays? Because this asks us to think about what we actually mean by the terms "work" and "value". Is it possible for this Government to accept that the contribution that artists make to culture is through the work that they do rather than through paying taxes from earnings which would be a bonus on top of that work? Gordon Brown has made it clear that the Government want to make sure that people are not better off on benefit doing nothing than they would be working. Artists may be on benefit, but they are not doing nothing--they are working. Theirs is a cultural work. Could not the Government or society itself agree to pay the artist what he or she would
At present we are in danger of streamlining the funding, the facilities (including museums and galleries) and work structures they have to inhabit into a commercial cultural system without anomalies. In that sense, this is a government that seems to like "tidying up". The tighter and more controlled the structures that the Government set up, the more a culture will be created which, for all its apparent variegation, will be prescribed, determined only by those structures. We should instead be allowing for a diversity of artistic projects ranging from those that function in the market place to those which might be seen as a cultural equivalent of blue-skies research. Otherwise the end result might be that we face a situation like that in the former eastern bloc countries where their authorities countenanced only socialist artists: we would support only commercially-viable artists.
Perhaps one of the good things that has come out of this present situation is the desire on the part of many artists and others no longer to live a lie. If the artist is presently supported for not working, why cannot he be supported for working as an artist? There are at present a great number of artists, writers and musicians working on very low incomes all over Britain. Gordon Brown may say that he wants to expand the opportunities for work, but the effective result may be simply to stop artists from being artists. I present this not as a demand, but as an appeal to legitimise a situation which already exists, but which is largely hidden. Its revealing could change the whole nature of the cultural landscape in this country.
Lord Montague of Oxford: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Puttnam, in his excellent speech opening this debate, referred to the profound effect of the lottery. As an immediate past millennium commissioner I would like to take noble Lords on a quick canter around the country--stopping not for a second in Greenwich--to discuss some of the excellent projects which are newly taking place. We must remember--as we have heard several times this afternoon--the importance of buildings.
The noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, asked a most interesting question; namely, whether we can do anything for cathedrals. We are doing so. I refer to the completion of the St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. This project will complete the north transept and the cloisters and will link the chapel and the unfinished tower. That will complete the last substantially incomplete English cathedral. Our noble friends the bishops are able to apply for funding and are doing so. That is to be welcomed. We have heard today about books. In Norwich we are building a great library. I say "we" but we are providing only 50 per cent. of the cost of this great library and the great square which will be built in Norwich. There will be a millennium library, a business
Durham is being dubbed the renaissance city of the north. There will be a theatre, a centre for lifelong learning and a new library. In Newcastle there will be an interactive visitor centre where the secrets of life will be unveiled and the mysteries of evolution and life on earth explored. Each of these projects to which I refer will cost at least £100 million, of which the Millennium Commission will provide half. An observation has been made that only £50 million is being made available to the new Bankside Tate Gallery. When the Millennium Commission came into being we decided that we had to have some ground rules under which people applied to us for funding. The ground rules stipulated that we would provide either 50 per cent. of the cost of a project or £50 million, whichever was the greater. It is up to applicants whether or not they apply to us. The Tate applied to us on that basis. When there are projects to finance up and down the land a body such as ours must follow a strict financial discipline; otherwise, every single project could overrun its budget and will reapply to us for additional funds. That is why we have established these rules which we shall not vary.
In Manchester the Lowry Centre will be built, comprising exhibition space to feature that great English artist, L.S. Lowry of "matchstick men" fame. There will also be built a 1,650-seat lyric theatre. Portsmouth Harbour can come alive for visitors. A great tower will be built from which one can see "HMS Victory" and the British fleet, all of which will now go to Portsmouth. The commander-in-chief is already located there. That will be a great spectacle. From the tower one will be able to see the Isle of Wight. It will be a hub of activity and, I am sure, a great attraction.
In Bristol there will be built two theatres and a science centre. In Cornwall the Eden project will be established. What a tremendous project that will be. A great, deep quarry will be partially covered over. The scheme will be designed by the same architects who built the Eurostar station at Waterloo. There will be a similar imaginative design by Eden in Cornwall. In addition to being a great attraction to visitors it will provide much economic benefit to Cornwall, which is one of the poorest, albeit most glamorous, parts of the country. In Birmingham there will be the Millennium Point with new multimedia technologies and a home for historic and modern artefacts. A Hindu temple will be built in the west Midlands. I do not know whether noble Lords have seen the temple that was built in Neasden which received much publicity. It is a quite magnificent affair. I have not seen anything like it before. I could not believe I was in Britain. I urge noble Lords to visit it if they have not done so. It is exciting, stimulating and a true work of art.
The Earth Centre near Doncaster is being built in an area of high unemployment for miners for whom there is no other work. It will be used for environmental research and as a sustainable technology centre.
We are not forgetting that the millennium is the mark of a Christian period. We shall provide the funds to floodlight 400 churches. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, who became so angry with us on one occasion when we would not provide funds for the new opera house in Cardiff. If he had not become angry with us I doubt we would have taken the subsequent decision that another similar project on the same site should go ahead. There will be a new lyric theatre in Cardiff.
The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, referred to the Royal William Yard at Plymouth. We had some proposals for that and we were disappointed that it is now to be a retail centre. I agree with the noble Lord that that is a quite unsuitable purpose for that magnificent site. I have spoken for seven minutes and I am so grateful that my time is up because I do not have time to say anything about Greenwich!
Lord Feldman: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, on introducing this debate today with his customary eloquence. It has given us the opportunity to discuss a subject which is close to our hearts and of great benefit to our nation.
I had the good fortune to come from a family where the arts were considered important and were encouraged. My father was a good amateur violinist. My sister, Fenella, became an actress and her Hedda Gabler received even more acclaim than her roles in the "Carry On" films. My son Nicholas has achieved great success in the music charts. At school, as a form of light relief from work, I organised many visits to the theatre, the opera and concerts. I realised then that you have to catch them young.
It seems to me that we should reconsider a long-standing idea to give the under-18s an arts passport which would give them access to selected arts venues around the country without charge. I am sure this will have an enormous effect on the future of the arts in our country. As my noble friend Lord Inglewood has suggested, perhaps the cost could be met from the education budget. The Government raised expectations on what would happen to the arts if and when they won the election, implying that more money would emerge and that there would be more support and encouragement for all the arts. So far there is great disappointment throughout the arts, although the Chancellor helped yesterday as regards museums and galleries.
I understand that the creative industries task force includes film, video, television, design, rock and pop music, but why deny representation to the other arts such as classical music, theatre, opera, ballet and museums? Are they not creative too?
I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, whom I respect, will understand it if I say that John Tusa did not create a schism by his article. In fact the schism was created and caused by the Government's rather clumsy approach to the matter. During my term on the English Tourist Board I worked to establish a closer relationship between tourism and the arts. As a result, the London Arts Season was created to bring tourists to London in February and March--an off peak time of the year--in 1994, 1995 and 1996. The season brought together all the arts in London and brought £75 million of additional revenue to the capital. It was followed in 1995 by a national year long campaign called the Festival of Arts and Culture which produced £150 million.
Let me give noble Lords some statistics. Fifty per cent. of overseas visitors are drawn here by our arts and heritage. Each year our West End theatres alone sell 12 million tickets, of which 4 million are sold to overseas visitors. More than 50 million visitors come to our museums, galleries and historic properties every year. The arts-related spend on tourism is over £3 billion a year. However, the value to our nation from the arts does not just rest with buying tickets or paying an admission fee. There are substantial economic benefits too.
Overseas visitors arrive in our planes, ships and ferries. They eat in our restaurants. They travel on our buses, trains and in our taxis. They stay in our hotels and they buy goods in our shops. All these activities create jobs, and I have found that arts tourists come back again and again. The arts, whether sponsored or commercial, lead to job creation on a large scale, adding to the life, fulfilment and prosperity of our nation.
I find it intriguing that after the general election, the name of the Department of National Heritage was changed. Much of the arts that we celebrate are part of our cultural heritage, so yet again New Labour has carried out an unnecessary exercise in rebranding. This reminds me of Sam Goldwyn, the great American film producer, who, when told by a critic that his films were always full of old cliches, was extremely upset. The great man called together his directors and screenwriters and said, "Gentlemen, enough of the old cliches. Give me some new cliches!". New Labour has given us many new cliches, but no new money for the arts.
I believe that we should continue to align tourism with the arts. One project which I feel is important is the establishment of an arts bureau in London which, combined with a tourism element, would promote the arts within our country and around the world on a 12 months of the year basis. I hope that the application that we made for lottery money will in time prove successful. Something like that would boost the arts, bringing more visitors to our country. It would also bring increased economic benefits.
Lord Freyberg: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, for initiating this timely debate. There is one important issue that has been neglected for many decades which I urge the Secretary of State to address as part of his departmental review. That is the redistribution of works of art in our national collections.
There are several reasons why that is necessary. At the moment, thanks to historical accident, important works of art are often housed in inappropriate museum collections when they would be seen and appreciated by far more people if they were accommodated somewhere else. For example, the Victoria and Albert Museum, while largely a museum for the decorative and applied arts, also owns a considerable number of fine paintings by such artists as Degas, Fantin Latour, Ingres, Delacroix and Tiepolo, to say nothing of the 415 magnificent oil sketches by Constable. All those languish largely unknown and unseen compared with the large numbers of people who enjoy comparative works in the National and Tate galleries.
One of the reasons for the V&A's large holding of pictures is the National Gallery's refusal from the beginning to accept work by living artists. When in 1887 John Sheepshanks gave more than 500 pictures to the South Kensington Museum (as the V&A was then called) he did so with the intention that they should form the nucleus of a National Gallery of British Art. Ten years later the Tate Gallery was built at Millbank for just that purpose. If the Tate had existed earlier, it is certain that they would have gone there. It is lamentable that no one has had the imagination or nous in the past 100 years to arrange for their removal to the place where they would be properly appreciated.
The Constables were bequeathed to the V&A for a slightly different reason. At that time, in 1888, the National Gallery refused to take oil sketches, though it was happy to accept Constable's large oils from the same source. Today no such distinction is made. Meanwhile drawings by Constable are divided between the Tate, the V&A and the British Museum. Surely it would make sense for scholars and the general public alike to reunite this great collection as a pair to the Turner bequest.
Whatever else the public perception of the V&A may be, it is not of a major art gallery with a range of paintings, prints, drawings and a vast number of watercolours, from 14th century Italy to present day Britain. Visitors largely ignore these elements of its holdings and instead prefer to think of it as the greatest decorative and applied arts museum in the world. That is what they come to see. If its unsung pictures were moved to a more appropriate setting, several whole galleries would be freed for some of its massive reserve collection currently languishing in its capacious cellars and storerooms.
Similarly, visitors do not go to the British Museum for its decorative arts collection. But it exists, as do equivalent anomalies in all the major London museums. One of the greatest problems in redistributing works of art is the understandable reluctance of museum directors to let go anything in their collection, however sensible the idea might be in principle. This is why it is necessary for the Secretary of State to get involved, to bash heads together, or at least to convene a rational discussion of the whole issue and force museum directors to be practical rather than territorial.
One of the ways museums have attempted to redress this situation in the past has been to arrange for works isolated in the wrong museum to be placed in a more suitable location on long term loan. For example, the V&A's Bellini has been on the walls of the National Gallery since 1895. That is obviously the right place for it and it would not make sense for it ever to return to South Kensington. Unfortunately, other loans are often made on the understanding that the objects will eventually return to their original home no matter how illogical that would be.
It should be noted that the director of the National Gallery, Neil MacGregor, took an excellent lead in this direction a couple of years ago, presumably hoping to kick-start others in the same direction. He handed over some fine miniatures to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which already boasts the national collection of miniatures, and a number of Greco-Roman Fayum portraits to the British Museum.
What is important for all the museums is that they should concentrate on their core purposes and remedy the accidents of history where practical and appropriate. They should be encouraged to examine properly the merits of placing particular articles in relevant museums, even if the ownership of these works is not changed.
I do not suggest that the regrouping should be clinical and absolute, but commonsensical. It would, for example, be a great shame to deprive the V&A of its range and mixture of exhibits in its period galleries. But we must be sensible about it where anomalies are obvious.
As regards wholesale reorganisation between the museums, there are two substantial precedents. They lie in the fur and feathers of the National History Museum that once were all housed at the British Museum along with the Elgin Marbles, until common sense removed them to South Kensington. Meanwhile the V&A was established in 1852 as a Museum of Manufactures. It quickly developed as a museum devoted to ornamental art, while its industrial side also grew to such an extent that in 1913 the Science Museum was founded.
The imminent removal of contemporary art works from the Tate Gallery to Bankside is an ideal moment to take stock of which other works of art are stranded in uncongenial collections and where they would be most appreciated and visible.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, perhaps I may also add my congratulations and thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. This debate gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on minority arts. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Montague of Oxford, for mentioning some very interesting examples, and in particular the Neasden temple. Just for information, over a million people have visited the temple over a period of about two years. A substantial number of them are from different faiths. That shows the importance of such a beautiful and wonderful structure.
Just before I entered the House I was handed a leaflet from an organisation called ADiTi. I was asked whether it was at all possible to mention the organisation. It is the national umbrella organisation for South Asian dance. It is doing some very noble work in the community. As noble Lords will know, dance is one of the most powerful and eloquent means of self-expression. The thing that impressed me most when I read the leaflet was that the organisation's funding has been withdrawn by the Arts Council of England. It asks:
It is just as necessary to establish cultural relations within groups which co-exist within a society, as when they exist in the form of separate states. Indeed, it could be argued that it is even more important to do so when those groups are differentiated not only by race but by all kinds of social traditions, which are very often not understood by members of other groups living in close proximity. It has often been said that racial differences act like a trace element in the body politic, exposing all the weak places. When the arts are neglected and under-valued by the state, the result of that neglect will show up most clearly in its effect on ethnic minorities.
As early as 1976 I headed a department at the Commission for Racial Equality which also had a responsibility for the arts. We began to be aware of a sense of neglect, amounting to discrimination, being experienced by artists from ethnic minorities living and working in this country. We found that the official view of the Arts Council of Great Britain at the time was that no special need was recognised and no special policy was required--in effect, there was no need to change anything. The same attitude was held, with some honourable exceptions, by most regional arts associations and local authorities. In other words, the contribution which could have assisted towards the creation of an integrated society was ignored.
At that time, the first condition of eligibility for any kind of public funding was that the artist or artists concerned should be "professional" in the sense then considered to be the first condition of eligibility for public money.
After the first of several meetings with the chairman and members of the All Party Parliamentary Heritage Group, the suggestion was made that we should organise a programme of performances, at the Commonwealth Institute, in which every possible ethnic minority in Britain should be represented--not merely West Indians and Asians, but Africans, Chinese, Poles, Ukrainians, Scots, Welsh and Irish. The audience was entirely invited, and consisted largely of representatives from local authorities from all over Britain. It was the first time that people gained an idea of the arts that were available on their doorstep.
After that, a small trust was formed, funded by the Gulbenkian Foundation. It organised no less than 22 festivals in cities all over Britain, all of which provided an opportunity for the best artists in local communities to perform in public for the first time.
But today, after more than a decade of cuts across the board in arts funding, the ethnic minority artists, who had only just begun to catch up, are once again disproportionately disadvantaged. That must be a shocking indictment of a society, when art exemplifies the finest contributions in the life of its citizens. When resources are scarce, competition becomes keener. A sense of grievance among the losers is evident. Low expectation based on bad experience leads to alienation, and to the kind of behaviour that we all deplore and regret.
Britain, rather to its own surprise, has a world-wide reputation for pre-eminence in the arts. However, that reputation is built on a lop-sided Euro-centric projection of our society. It is surely of vital importance to be recognised as the multi-racial, multi-cultural society that we are, and that that should be represented in all that is good for our country.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I, too, wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, for initiating this debate. Several noble Lords have spoken about the plight of the smaller museums in this country, and I wish to speak briefly about that category. The current magnificent exhibition at the Royal Academy bears striking witness to the treasures that are in the possession of museums across the United Kingdom. At this stage I must declare an interest as a director of a company which holds archives of photographs of pictures owned by museums and art collections. It is in the small museums in this country that we see the funding difficulties at their most stark.
Let us take a museum in a large town in England. It will probably have negligible endowments. It is likely to be under the control of a local authority which is itself under considerable financial pressure and where the priorities for the arts are not as high as we would like. There was the case of one major city whose very fine
It is a vicious circle. Everybody loses--the nation's heritage, in the form of the public who are denied a sight of these works, and the museums themselves because their works will not have the earning potential from reproduction rights; and so back to the public again, since the ability to acquire new works will in many cases be all but extinguished. These are the Cinderellas of the museums world. Their contribution to the history, the culture, and indeed the contemporary life of the communities they serve is beyond measure. The lottery grants have been a lifeline, but with the grant to the Arts Council, in common with the other lottery funds, to be cut by £60 million per year, this invaluable group must not be the ones on the margin which are forgotten.
The lottery grants have been a great help to capital projects, but perhaps I may make a plea for some form of parallel revenue funding. I take as an example a very fine provincial museum collection which last year loaned 120 of its pictures, more than ever before, nationally, locally and overseas. It could not afford to take part in the exchange programme, so this was a purely good-will gesture. The paperwork involved in this operation is ever-increasing. The net result will almost certainly be a cutback on its activities for the current year. Capital projects are one thing; revenue support is another.
I conclude on an encouraging note. Three years ago Sheffield galleries were on the point of collapse. There was serious talk of closures. Sheffield, the seventh largest city in England, gave the third lowest grant to its museums. However, thanks to an enlightened initiative by the City Council, two of the largest museums have been made into an independent trust. Sheffield was a fortunate recipient of lottery funds and the curator now has the prospect, for the first time in years, of a development fund and a purchasing fund. The Sheffield example is the very best kind of matching effort, matching lottery grants with imaginative local initiatives. I very much hope that the Secretary of State will be as generous as he can to this most deserving category of museums in this country.
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I begin by joining in the thanks to my noble friend for giving us the opportunity to debate this important Motion. I am in the somewhat unfortunate position that the noble Lord,
I too wish to concentrate my comments on the influence of Britain's ethnic minorities on arts today. Many noble Lords have spoken about the sheer vibrancy of the arts in Britain. I wish to argue that this is in large part due to the influence of our ethnic minorities and that we should not only recognise this but celebrate it and promote it.
The problem I have is in trying to cite specific examples. There is such an amalgamation of different ethnic groups with different art forms and different levels of cultural influence that it is impossible to define any boundaries and in some ways it is invidious to attempt to do so. Nevertheless, I wish to give examples, and I shall do so.
In the world of dance I would cite the choreographer and dancer Shobana Jeyasingh, who has a new show opening in the coming week in which she will fuse western contemporary music with classical Indian dance forms in a very exhilarating performance.
In the world of literature I would cite recent Booker Prize winners, Ben Okri, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro and Arundhati Roy. These are all British writers writing on their experiences outside Britain and contributing to British literature.
I would also cite the art form of food and cooking. I do not know whether members of the Catering Committee of your Lordships' House regard food and cooking as an art form; perhaps they should do so. I should like to cite Peter Gordon's restaurant, the Sugar Club, where he fuses Pacific cookery with European cookery, creating a new type of food.
In the world of music, which is perhaps the simplest example, I would cite the band Simply Red, which I believe is the Prime Minister's favourite pop group, which draws on the reggae tradition, of which I suspect some noble Lords have heard. I would also cite the group Cornershop, which is currently topping the charts in Britain with Punjabi lyrics and joins together classical Indian music with British pop music.
The point I wish to make is that artistic traditions are feeding off each other and creating new arts forms. Young people, particularly in metropolitan areas, take all this for granted; it is nothing new to them. I believe
I know that there is some concern that cultural diversity has not been properly serviced by our funding system, a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and my noble friend Lady Amos. Although I am sure those are valid criticisms, the last thing I want to do on an occasion like this is to complain. Perhaps it is inevitable that our funding and training institutions will lag behind what is happening on the arts scene today. I hope that their shortcomings will be overcome, but I suspect that there is a degree of inevitability about them.
I believe that one of the central reasons for Britain's vibrant arts is its cultural diversity. I believe that this is a cause for celebration, and I thank my noble friend Lord Puttnam for giving me the opportunity to draw this to your Lordships' attention.
Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, who so eloquently introduced this debate, will forgive me if I hijack it for a moment in order to draw your Lordships' attention to the problems currently afflicting the Royal Armouries museum.
The Royal Armouries is Great Britain's oldest national museum. For eight years I had the honour to be its chairman. During that time plans were developed which have now found fruition in the establishment of the Royal Armouries in three different locations: at Leeds; at Fort Nelson, above Portsmouth; and at the Tower of London. Yet with three locations the Royal Armouries still has the same grant-in-aid as it had when it occupied only part of the Tower of London. Now spread throughout the three areas, it has the opportunity, which it has seized, more imaginatively and more adequately to display its world-renowned collection of arms and armour.
The museum was able to go to Leeds because, with the help of the Government, it became the first private finance initiative museum to be established--I believe that it is so far the only one. But, as noble Lords will appreciate, because of the involvement of the private sector, the Royal Armouries museum is unable to benefit from the revenues derived from admissions, retailing, catering and hiring facilities, which go directly to the private sector investors. That restricts the amount of revenue income that the armouries may be able to draw.
At Fort Nelson the Royal Armouries has been developing the most imaginative displays of its artillery collection. It has enormous potential, as the noble Lord, Lord Montague of Oxford, mentioned when referring to Portsmouth. It is all part of the Portsmouth defence of the realm heritage, which is well worth a visit. The Royal Armouries will be making a modest bid for assistance from lottery funds to enable it to proceed with the full display of its artillery there. I hope that, as a result, both at Fort Nelson and at Leeds, it will be able to display--through the medium of pageant, historical
The Tower of London remains the one crucial problem which the Royal Armouries museum is now facing; yet it is surprising that it should be a problem at all. The Royal Armouries, as a working arsenal and as a museum, has been at the Tower of London for more than 700 years. It is a vital and central part of the Tower exhibits and exhibition. In 1983 the National Heritage Act came into being and established the Royal Armouries as an independent trustee-managed body. But more recently, during the period of the last government, the Royal Palaces Agency came into existence, charged with the responsibility for managing the unoccupied Royal Palaces, which include the Tower of London.
The Royal Palaces Agency, not surprisingly, wants full control over everything that goes on in the Tower of London. Frankly, it seems to be offended by the sheer presence of the Royal Armouries in the Tower. The result is that the Royal Armouries is no longer able to raise funds in the Tower for its own operations. It did a deal recently in which it gave up its commercial income on the promise that it would receive a financial settlement. It was expecting at least £600,000 a year; it was offered, as I understand it, £200,000--half of the expected proceeds from the shop which it has been forced to give up and which it was hoping to open in the newly-displayed White Tower.
The Tower as a whole makes a substantial profit. Last year its income from admissions was £15 million. The Royal Armouries was asking for 4 per cent. of that. All it has been offered is 1 per cent. The adult admission to the Tower is currently £8; the Royal Armouries was asking for 30p of that, but it is to receive less than 10p. Frankly, that is offensive and also shortsighted, particularly for a national museum which had more than 3 million visitors in the past year.
A grave injustice is being committed. It is quite extraordinary that such damage is being done to a vital part of our nation's heritage by the department of heritage, all apparently being brought about because of the overweening ambition of one of it minions. I ask the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who has sat so patiently throughout the debate, to help me by bringing to the attention of his right honourable friend the Secretary of State the urgent need for him to take an interest in this matter; to see the Royal Armouries trustees and the Master of the Armouries in order to correct a grave injustice.
Lord Gibson: My Lords, there are few people in public life today who will actually deny the central importance of the arts; but how many who attain political authority really mean what they say? They mean it in Opposition, but they tend to be less enthusiastic in government, and that applies to both sides.
The fact is that too many people in this country still think of the arts as, while desirable, no more than the icing on the cake to be trimmed when economy requires it. Benjamin Britten put it even more strongly when he received the first Aspen Award in 1964 and in his acceptance speech observed,
Why is it wrong to think like that? To find the answer we have only to think what past societies are remembered for: as a number of your Lordships have said, primarily their cultural expression, their painters, architects, poets and composers; furthermore, the liberating effect of the arts on society. The first thing a dictator does is to constrain and suppress the arts. It is the liberating effect which so abundantly justifies the public support for the arts.
Public subsidy, supported by private, has enormously widened public demand for music and drama throughout the country and brought a national musical and artistic life with a richness and variety undreamt of 50 years ago. It could not have been done without subsidy. However, it would not have been nearly as well done if we had not created an Arts Council to dispense the funds and thus protect the recipients of those funds from political interference. But there is the rub. As the size of public provision has grown, it has become more difficult for politicians to resist interfering; more tempting for them to ignore the "arm's length" principle, which was the original reason for the existence of the Arts Council. What could illustrate that better than Mr. Smith's apparent readiness to determine the future of opera in London with the Arts Council little more than a spectator of events? As someone who chaired the Arts Council 25 years ago, in the days when Ministers of both political parties observed the arm's length principle scrupulously, I find that very sad. I see one former Minister still in his place; I am sorry that the other has left because I like to be even-handed in these matters.
Still, I congratulate Mr. Gerry Robinson on his appointment as the next chairman. His public remarks so far seem to be very much to the point and he is clearly not a man to be pushed around. The Government which appointed him will clearly want him to be a success. Good luck to him! But he will need it. Apart from yesterday's welcome announcement of some help--though not much--for museums, the Government have not so far shown themselves to be very sympathetic to the arts. Many speakers have already referred to severe cuts in arts support. However, in the little time left I propose to speak of the arts in education.
The Prime Minister asserted that the arts are central, not peripheral. Many of us hoped that he meant it and that a Labour Government would extend to secondary schools the compulsory inclusion of art and music in
Of course I understand that the Secretary of State is trying to make more room for basic skills and I am not pleading for a return to progressive, so-called "child-centred" education which may even fail to teach children to spell. Far from it. What I am pleading for is the arts as a means of arousing in children a desire to learn more, and I am saying that this happens most noticeably in very young children. There is plenty of evidence that where children are introduced to the arts early it helps to improve their basic skills as well, and certainly that their whole attitude to school--their motivation, their bearing and their involvement--all improve when they begin to experience the arts at an early age.
Of course I understand that the Secretary of State has no intention of excluding the arts from the primary curriculum. I know that he wants head teachers to make use of the arts. But as I understand it, it is to be left to head teachers to decide how, and how much, to use music, drama, painting and so on to help children. And I fear this will mean that in schools in relatively well-off areas, with a high proportion of pupils from professional and middle class families, it will be easier to include the arts and head teachers who want to do so will be able to, while in deprived areas, with children from the poorest homes, where inclusion of art and music is perhaps even more essential, it will be much more difficult; and, with fewer peripatetic musicians available, it will be almost impossible.
This is the reason for the concern which many of us feel about this single, to us important, move, and I only hope that the Minister, when he replies to the debate, will be able to say something to alleviate our concern.
Lord Hastings: My Lords, I think I should declare some sort of interest in that I have been actively involved in the world of ballet for some 66 years. Quite recently I had to retire on the ground of age as a governor of the Royal Ballet after 23 years, and currently I am chairman of the Dance Teachers Benevolent Fund, which covers teachers in every aspect, from classical ballet, contemporary and modern, right through to ballroom and Latin American dancing. That is relevant to my remarks about education, although the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, rather pre-empted what I was going to say.
A few years ago, under the previous government, when we were debating the Education Reform Act, they included music in the core curriculum. An amendment was moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, that the words "the arts" should be inserted instead. Being late in the evening, the amendment was lost by 26 votes to 27. Most of the 27 had walked in from the Library and most of the 26, who had listened to the debate, including myself, voted for the Labour amendment. By so small a margin was damage done to the teaching of drama and dance throughout the entire education system, which has
What the last government did--and this Government are repeating the mistake--was to undermine the possibility of creativity in the arts in general in schools and enjoyment and appreciation of them. I say to this Government, who say that education is their flagship, that an education that does not expose students from the earliest of ages throughout their careers at school to the arts in general--and even to one particular art in some schools--is not a fully rounded education. I hope that they will review this and cancel the present policy. I believe it is vital to the whole future, in the words of the noble Lord's Motion, "life of the nation".
The noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, will remember that when he and I were together in Florence celebrating the 75th anniversary of the British Institute of Florence and that marvellous film "Chariots of Fire" had a gala showing I told him that I was not at all happy about the record of the Conservative Government in their support of the arts. I thought it had been inadequate and mean minded and I was hoping for something better from the next Labour Government. So far, I am afraid I am disappointed. I dare not ask the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, whether he is. But the fact is that there have been cuts in real terms, theatres have closed and will continue to close, and the situation is not very promising.
That brings me to a particular complaint in that I strongly object to the misuse of the word "elitism", which nowadays is used in government circles and in the media as a derogatory term. If we are talking about elitism, surely we are talking about high standards, quality and excellence, and not mere affluence, which seems to be uppermost in the minds of those in government circles and in the media, correlating it with the higher intellectual forms of art--"highbrow art", the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said. That must surely be wrong and I hope it will be put a stop to.
That brings me to a matter which I think the Government must take into account when they are considering the whole problem of the arts. I refer to the question of prestige, which is a fact of life whether they like it or not. Our friends on the Continent, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, have no difficulty in recognising the importance of prestige and they give subsidies roughly three times those received in this country. Prestige is important for the reputation of our country as well as to the tourist industry, which engenders millions of pounds--far more than any subsidies given out. The fact is that we have a reputation for being a philistine country.
The noble Lord, Lord Hindlip, quoted statistics from the National Campaign for the Arts. I think that reputation is probably unfair on millions of ordinary people who enjoy the arts and get education and stimulation and sometimes spiritual comfort out of them. Therefore, I am hopeful that when and if this Government manage to save a lot of money by reforming the welfare state and by preventing waste in both central and local government which we know exists, they will spare a few dimes for the arts and
Viscount Simon: My Lords, there have been some notable contributions today made by people who have an intimate knowledge of the subject about which, I have to admit, I do not. I have a great love of classical music, particularly baroque and baroque choral music: hardly a day passes when I do not listen to some. But that is the extent of my knowledge. I hope that my completely different approach in tonight's debate will be both controversial and will provide food for thought. Your Lordships may be surprised when I tell you that my contribution to the debate is solely confined to the practical effects of music on crime and disorder, which is also an important part of the life of the nation.
There are many among us who like modern pop music--personally, I loathe it. The stronger the beat the more it is liked. I cannot for one moment imagine that there is one noble Lord here today who has not heard the boom, boom, boom emanating very loudly from cars driven, usually, by the youth of today. Not only can the youth not hear emergency vehicles approaching but, in time, they will not be able to her anything due to deafness brought on by the excessive volume. Some councils are addressing the problem of excessive noise from car stereos as, I believe, youngsters in Weston-Super-Mare have discovered when they are not only heavily fined but have their equipment confiscated as well.
But I return to classical music. In just three weeks, rowdy groups of teenagers, who used to menace passengers, wreck equipment and scrawl graffiti, have quietly faded away from the Tyneside Metro station of Shiremoor. Why?--you may well ask. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, might be encouraged to learn that these youths, accustomed to the beat of modern music (if it can be so described), cannot stand the sound of Delius being played. I am led to understand that the early indications are that reports of juvenile disorder have been considerably reduced and, therefore, the initial trial is regarded as a success. The volume of music is pitched so that it can be appreciated by those who like it and loud enough to deter those who do not. Your Lordships may be interested to learn that the youths were initially subjected to orchestral and choral extracts from Delius's Hassan which was broadcast for 12 hours each day. Chief Inspector Allan Curry of the Northumbria police said that vandals,
So, it has been shown that classical music as one form of the arts, can be important in reducing crime in certain circumstances and this, in turn, must be of benefit to the nation, and to the life of the nation.
It is my primary contention that the arts are about many things--relaxation, entertainment, spiritual values, and above all, education. Who can deny the educational value of the award-winning films of the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, among them "The Mission", "The Killing Fields" and "Chariots of Fire"? Who can deny that the thousands of schoolchildren visiting our museums and galleries are enjoying an educational excursion? And who can deny that our theatres daily portray aspects of history, emotion, action and consequences that both edify and educate their audiences? All three--cinema, museums and theatres--train and educate young Thespians and technicians to go abroad, as did the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, and prove themselves to be the best.
It is my secondary contention that the Government, in pursuit of education as a priority, should assist the arts in their many forms to provide the level of services that it has been their custom to do. That need not mean a wholesale subsidy for all-comers as I shall now demonstrate.
The total government grant-in-aid for the London museums, which do not charge for entry--that is to say, the Tate Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum and the National Gallery--was £27.7 million in 1986-87 and had risen to £75 million in 1996-97. Over the same period the total number of visitors had risen from 9.1 million to 15.1 million. That means a government subsidy of £3.04 rising to £4.97 for each visitor. Many of these are tourists and I do not believe that they should be assisted to this level, especially when many overseas museums charge an entrance fee. Obviously, museum trustees should always have the final say in charging policy, but I recommend that the Government should think again about the level of support they provide for the cultural and educational aspirations of overseas visitors and consider new ways of tapping into these lost revenues.
The film world is dominated by America where seven Hollywood studios control 90 per cent. of US distribution income and make one-third of all American films. The Hollywood system of giving artists a contract incorporating a share of the net profits has been subject to much dispute over the past three or four decades. The trouble centres round the accounting procedures used by the studios to calculate net losses on films such as "JFK", "Batman, the Movie", and "Coming to America". In preparation now is the Garrison litigation, which cinema experts consider may lead to the end of Hollywood's domination of the milieu.
This may be a window of opportunity for the British film industry which already has a reputation for excellence, particularly in the training and nurture of world-class technicians and award-winning actors and actresses. However, despite the tax breaks available to wealthy "angels" the funding of British films has always been problematical. Fresh ideas and top quality scripts go overseas and in the process millions of film-goers are treated to re-written versions of British history. Those of us in the know can laugh as Audie Murphy wins the European war single-handedly in film after film. But many of our citizens "learn" the amended versions and believe the message it insinuates. Some of these films expose hitherto unknown passages of history while others make a travesty of it. In "Braveheart" William Wallace is credited with cuckolding the future English King and, by implication, fathering Edward III. In reality, Wallace was executed in 1305 and Edward III was not born until 1312, making it the longest gestation period in history. How much better it would be if a government, in pursuit of education as a priority, were to give better tax incentives to individuals to fund more accurate British films.
Drama in Britain is alive and is a clever way to educate the people in a range of subjects. It is of itself a very telling voice of the people. British theatre is dominated by the smaller auditoria, often with little or no grant support; for instance, the Little Theatre Guild, the highly respected Almeida and the threatened Greenwich theatre, and by repertory companies, all of whom feed the internationally-known venues such as the RSC, the National and Drury Lane. The repertoire ranges from Ayckbourn and Agatha Christie through Chekhov and Ibsen to Shaw and Tennessee Williams. Never mind the Bard and his famous lines beginning,
all the world is to be found in our theatres. The growing practice of touring companies performing in schools and village halls is to be commended, but a government in pursuit of education as a priority might well consider the possibility of providing financial assistance sufficient to ensure that by the time every child has reached 16 years of age he or she has attended at least one live theatre performance.
Lord Chorley: My Lords, I too express my thanks to my old friend, if I may so describe him, the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, not only for initiating this debate, but for his outstanding speech, starting us off nearly four hours ago.
I should like to address two issues. The first is the role of the arts in, to use that rather portentous phrase, cultural diplomacy. I refer to the work of the British Council, of which I am a deputy chairman. I refer secondly to the health of our regional galleries and museums. On the face of it, they may seem unconnected themes, but they are linked by a common problem and thread, which is: where should we draw the line and the boundary between state funding on the one hand and private and local funding on the other?
Thinking of that, I could not help but be reminded of an occasion eight or 10 years ago when the Royal Shakespeare Company had a similar success succes fou in Budapest. Our ambassador sent us the letters that he received and they were astonishingly heart-warming. That was just before the collapse of the Russian Empire, so I believe that over the years, bit by bit, cultural diplomacy played its part in the great victory that led to the end of the Cold War. So, one can indeed say that the pen is mightier than the sword--or, at any rate, a good deal cheaper.
I could go on to give all sorts of examples in all the main fields of the arts in which the British Council is closely involved. However, I say simply that all that has been achieved against a background over the past 20 years of relentless cuts in our parliamentary grant. There have also been relentless investigations. Two years ago we were forced to reduce our UK staff by one-quarter (1,200 staff). In carrying out all our work, we as a nation spend a fraction of the amount spent by our main competitors, France, Germany and the United States.
I must now turn to my second theme, which concerns our great regional collections, to which reference has already been made. Both yesterday and today we have heard about the Bowes Museum and the Buckinghamshire Museum. There are many other examples of regional museums being in difficulties. We all know that many are run down and dowdy. I suspect that some of them are steadily falling behind in conservation work. Acquisition budgets, the lifeblood of
One cannot help contrasting that attitude with that of our predecessors when one has seen the splendid exhibition of regional art in England which is currently at the Royal Academy and which reminds us of the exuberant self-confidence and civic pride of our Victorian forebears, who both conceived and made possible what was then the wholly new concept of public provision. Much of the art that they bought was contemporary. I refer, for example, to the great pre-Raphaelite painters, whose work is being so splendidly selected and shown at the Royal Academy. How much contemporary art can our galleries afford to buy today?
Here, one must pay tribute to the tremendous work of the National Art Collections Fund, which in 1997 managed to offer grants of £3.2 million. But the NACF cannot do it alone; nor can the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, and his family trust. What a contrast there is between the richness and confidence of those Victorian businessmen--we tend to deride them now--with the mean and measly attitude of state provision today when, as a nation, we are infinitely richer and more prosperous than 100 years ago.
However, one might ask: why state provision at all? Today the Government take about 40 per cent. of our GDP; 100 years ago the proportion was probably 10 per cent. So, inevitably, if we wish to consider ourselves a civilised society, the Government must take a greater responsibility. Given the lottery, they are the new patrons. Of course, the lottery is project-based, but the running costs of our museums and galleries really must be the responsibility of the Government.
However, the Treasury keeps moving the goalposts. We thought that we had the National Lottery well protected in the 1993 Act. Not a bit of it--we now have a sixth good cause which, on any commonsense ground, should be funded from taxation. I quite understand why Chris Smith wants to use the sixth good cause--because he cannot get the money from the Treasury.
We see the budgets of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, English Heritage and the Arts Council being steadily eroded. Much has been made of the Chancellor condescending yesterday to help over museum admission charges. We pat him on the back and say, "Thank you". But the question should never have arisen. It should be taken for granted that such costs are the responsibility of government. We are a rich society and if we wish to be considered a civilised society, government (whether local or national) should take responsibility for the running costs of our museums and galleries; or, if we are to adopt that ghastly concept of "rebranding Britain" and if we are to sell ourselves abroad culturally, the funding of the British Council. The mark of a civilised society is surely proper provision for these things by the state.
I believe that although he has "wobbled", as the noble Lord, Lord Gibson, said, Mr. Chris Smith and his arts Minister, Mr. Mark Fisher, are on the side of the angels. However, the Treasury shows all the signs and hallmarks of wishing to lead the Philistines. The 64,000 dollar question is: where do the Government as a whole stand? We have hard-pressed curators in the regions and they are not impressed by big show-biz and pop parties at No. 10. Time will show, but I suggest that at the moment the national jury is out.
The Lord Bishop of Ely: My Lords, I apologise for failing to put my name down for this debate and I am grateful for the opportunity to fill in the gap as I gather that we are slightly ahead of ourselves. I promise to be within the accustomed time limit of four minutes.
It is not possible for me to ignore the fact that at the bottom of my garden lies Ely Cathedral. Faced with that reality, I am bound to dissent from the proposition that the arts, or art, have in some way replaced the Church and tradition. I acknowledge the fact--and it is a fact--that the Church assumes a lower profile in the life of the modern British public. I acknowledge and welcome the fact that there is an enriching contribution from the ethnic communities to the artistic life of the nation. I have attended the Hindu festival of Diwali and have very much enjoyed Indian dance in the company of my right reverend friend the Bishop of Bradford.
However, it is surely the case that liturgy is a living and changing art form. At the time of the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales it was apparent that there was a need for public liturgies. Many Bishops, including myself, took part in public memorials and the saying of prayers in cathedrals, parks and public places because the cathedrals were too small for the number of people who wanted to assemble. Liturgy is indeed an art form and is alive in our culture today.
I celebrate and warmly welcome innovation in the arts, as did the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, in his splendid introduction to this debate. But art is a tradition and has a history. Its theory goes back to the very origins of western culture in the writings of Aristotle. The relation of art to human imagination and public life is not revolutionised by digital technology; rather, the latter is interpreted by the former. There is still a very warm and living contribution to be made to art by the Church. We in the Churches are very conscious of the duties that we owe to the nation in the inheritance that we have received. I invite any noble Lord who is here to visit Ely Cathedral to see its transformation over the past few years by way of restoration. Magnificent work has been done in that building. Ely Cathedral like many others in this country has programmes of music. That music crosses the whole spectrum. In my case we have a Rave in the Nave, which on the basis of some of the speeches this afternoon I do not advise noble Lords to attend; the band of the Royal Marines Plymouth and the University of Cambridge Music Society--all playing to capacity audiences. The Church makes a vast and continuing contribution to the performance of high
Much of this debate has concerned the Government as patron of the arts. That is well understood. There are still a number of rich people who are prominent patrons of the arts, and there are some practitioners who have become very wealthy by performing the arts. I remind noble Lords that there are also some very poor people who give vast amounts of affection and time to care for the heritage of this nation in its parish churches. I believe that it behoves us to appreciate, respect and support them.
The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, this debate has been eagerly awaited by your Lordships' House, and the number of speakers bears testament to that. It has also been eagerly awaited outside the Chamber, if that can be judged by the amount of briefing material that has landed on our desks. We have a star player in the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, who introduced the debate so ably. I believe that the Benches opposite are extremely fortunate to have the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, among their number. I remind noble Lords that at one time he was a firm supporter of the SDP--the same origins from which I sprang--but we then went our separate ways. I am quite sure that with the noble Lord's expertise and experience (which I will deal with in more detail in a moment) the party opposite will make good use of him. The debate today has brought forth so many different points and subjects from which other debates could spring. I shall not attempt to deal with all of them in a winding up speech.
The noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, is very well placed to deal with a subject on which he only touched: the problems of the arts and the new technologies, globalisation and other areas which so intrigued him. I recall some years ago being a member of a film group who with other noble Lords, some of whom may be present today, visited Pinewood post production of one of the noble Lord's films: "Memphis Belle". I was struck by the enthusiasm of the noble Lord. He is a creative producer who takes an interest in every element of his films. On this occasion he was particularly proud of the special effects which were produced by computer--the newest technology--to portray the flight of a Second World War American bomber. It was a true story which was told very well in the film, but the effect of daylight bombing raids over Germany and the effect of the flak on the crew of the aircraft was all achieved by computer.
I do not know whether the film was very successful. I see the noble Lord nodding, and I am very glad of that. I enjoyed it enormously. I went home to discuss it with my wife. I said that David Puttnam (as he was in those days) had been very interested in the new technologies but I wondered whether they were going too far and affected the balance between the development of character in film and the new technologies. I believe that to some extent that has happened in American cinema. I do not say that that occurred in the noble Lord's film.
I am also glad that the New Labour Party--the people's party--is now slightly treading on the toes of the arts establishment because it is creating much heat and energy. We have had some of that from the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. I have never seen him so impassioned when speaking from the Cross-Benches, and for good reason, but I do not take such a pessimistic view. I believe that the heat and the passion which has been generated--there were echoes of this in the debate today--can produce some good.
This morning together with a number of other noble Lords and Members of the other place I was lucky enough to visit the wonderful exhibition at the Tate Gallery of the paintings of Pierre Bonnard. I congratulate the Tate Gallery on one of the most superb exhibitions of French painting that I have ever seen. It was beautifully displayed in an order which gave proper sense to the exhibition. The beautiful paintings move one as they should. One of the great things that art does, apart from informing and entertaining, is to move one. Films should also move one. Films are not just for entertainment. They can entertain without moving; they can inform and challenge. Film can become art but that is difficult for a collaborative work involving many elements, both creative and technical.
Essentially, when we introduce art education to children we give them an opportunity to appreciate our historical culture and to become more involved in whichever art attracts them most, whether it be literature, music, cinema or whatever. When they come across great works they should become emotionally moved. I was moved today by the exhibition at the Tate Gallery. I see the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, nodding in agreement. It was an astonishing occasion. I only wish that every child in the country could see that exhibition. Unfortunately, such exhibitions are very expensive to stage and that would not be possible. I hope that the Government will take on board a good deal of what has been said today about education and the arts because that is supremely important.
Because of the constraints of time I simply follow the path trodden by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and other noble Lords. I refer to music. Like other parents who have been lucky enough to have had their children educated in the private sector, I have always made sure that mine have had a proper arts education. They still do. If my youngest child attended a school where there was no arts education, I would remove him from that school. I consider that to be essential not only to his instruction but to the quality of his life and his future success both domestically and professionally.
What has happened to music in schools is not just a scandal, it is a disaster. To take away music from the curriculum of primary schools, in addition to taking away the ability to have free instrumental tuition in schools has had a disastrous effect. I have had one piece of briefing newspaper which I have thrown aside, but
I should like to move now to museums and galleries. "Culture, Media and Sport" is a cumbersome title, but we have good reason for not being too irritated by it, because the exhibition at the Royal Academy, which has been mentioned by many noble Lords, is sponsored by the Peterborough Football Club, the chairman of which is a long-time supporter of the Liberal Party. I make a distinction between the Liberals and the Liberal Democrats, but I think that he is still fond of us. He is Mr. Peter Boizot, creator, as some of us know who eat cheaply, of the excellent PizzaExpress Group. He has cleverly brought to the attention, by sponsoring the exhibition of the regional collections, the problems of galleries and museums throughout the country.
As many noble Lords have said, the galleries and museums throughout the country, many of which are late Victorian and which sprang up after the Great Exhibition, have suffered from diminishing funding which has put many of them on the brink of going out of business altogether. It may be a good idea for some of them to go out of business, but they should not be forced to do so in these circumstances. The museums and galleries need to get their act together and join with government to try to rationalise the situation. They must co-operate in order, if necessary, to cut the number of galleries in the same way that we have had to cut the number of racecourses around Britain and a number of other things, to tailor the numbers to modern funding abilities. That is something about which I should like to hear more from the Government.
I was extremely pleased that we heard from the right reverend Prelate. I hope that he was not prompted by remarks from someone who said that the Church should have a voice, though, even if he was, we were glad to hear him. I hope that he will not take this as a bitter note of criticism--the noble Lord, Lord Sudeley, is not here but the right reverend Prelate will probably be hearing from him in due course, because it is normally a debate introduced by Lord Sudeley which attacks the Church for not using the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible.
But the noble Lord has a point. He has always had a point. I cannot understand why the Church, which, after all, has the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible, which are as fundamental to British cultural and literary life as Milton and Shakespeare--they are part of the rhythm of our national language--appears to fail to take that on board. What they call accessibility is one thing. I do not like accessibility. People have to work to get the best out of things. I wish that they would make more effort to see that, where it is required, ancient forms are preserved.
Having ended on that rather ratty point. I look forward to the noble Lord's answer. I am optimistic, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. I am slightly better tempered today, and slightly more optimistic, but I may well become like him in due course.
Lord Luke: My Lords, I have seldom followed a speech with every sentiment of which I have agreed. We have had a long and interesting debate. For that, like many other noble Lords, I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. Like the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, I first heard of the noble Lord when he produced that wonderful film "Chariots of Fire", which I enjoyed all the more because I was privileged to know Harold Abrahams in his latter years. I am sure that we would all agree that that was one of those rare films which one can see again and again and still enjoy as much as the first time.
The noble Lord's speech was thoughtful, involving and, as has been seen during the whole of this evening, most effective in stimulating your Lordships' subsequent efforts. What are the arts? What is art? I have tried to construct a list. I have obviously left some out, but I have done my best: it includes painting, sculpture, opera--here I must mention my noble friend Lord Sainsbury, and I hope that the Government will think again about their purported plans for the opera, as we are all very worried about them--ballet, music, dance, theatre, photography, film, poetry, literature, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, of whom I am a great fan, architecture, gardening as an art, which no one else has mentioned, cooking, so originally mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede--of course it is an art--and I had never thought of liturgy as an art, but as the right reverend Prelate said, of course it is.
Art uplifts the spirit. It is for aesthetic enjoyment, for pleasure, for relaxation. It helps self-understanding and thereby self-expression. It is a vital part of education, as several noble Lords emphasised. I must mention in particular my noble friend Lord Renton, who underlined the importance of art in educating those with learning difficulties.
I improved my education today, because I did not know the story that my noble friend Lord Hindlip told us about Stubbs and the then Prime Minister. The mind boggles slightly, does it not? History is one of the most important subjects in the curriculum. It is brought to life by art. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, mentioned, as did my noble friend Lord Bridgeman, and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, the excellent exhibition at the Royal Academy of pictures from regional galleries. I must mention one in particular, because it brought back memories from my earliest childhood. It is the painting of the little boy standing in front of the Puritans and being asked, "When did you last see your father?". That is probably why I have been interested in history all my life. That was in my very first history book. Now I know where it came from.
The arts help us to see who and what we were, and therefore how we can best confront ourselves and our own lives. Art relieves stress. It helps to bring about the complete human being. It enhances creativity, as was said by my noble friend Lord Inglewood. It is therapeutic in every sense of the word. As a product of the imagination, it encourages the development of imagination, as the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam, said. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, made the interesting point that classical music can discourage crime. I did not know that.
So said Izaak Walton. Was he right? Is fishing an art? Indeed, is speech-making an art or is it a craft? I suggest that the noble Lords, Lord Birkett and Lord Beloff, are examples of speech-making as an art, but where it is a craft there is this poor effort of mine.
The endless productions we see on television are sometimes art, sometimes craft and sometimes neither. However, the continuous arguments about funding the arts and the impossibility of being able to compromise on excellence mean that, however generous the Government or other funding bodies, there will always be a gap between the aspirations of the many to partake in the arts and their provision in a way and at a cost which is reasonable. Hence television, which at its best is staggeringly good at making art for everyone.
Education is a lifelong process. My education is continually being improved by television. I learn from a great deal that it shows, although sometimes television is trite and shallow and far too overbearing in its condescension towards ordinary mortals such as myself--at least that is what I think. But the arts owe television an immense debt of gratitude, as do many other activities. However, it can only show what is available to be seen, so it must never be used as an excuse for a diminution of support for the arts. Living art is about new talent, new imagination and new perceptions, all of which, sadly, need funding.
Someone--I do not know who--said that the trouble with the arts is that those who practise art do not always provide an acceptable product. In my opinion, Classic FM is an excellent case in point, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam. BBC's Radio 3 used to be very nice, but it always had to educate one with sometimes difficult modern music. Classic FM never tries that one, and I think it is marvellous. The station has enormously increased the enjoyment and knowledge of classical music in this country.
I do not know the exact context, but I am sure that he would not have approved of the constant meddling with art indulged in by all modern governments, I suppose as a condition of subsidy. I wholeheartedly support what was said on that point by the noble Lord, Lord Gibson.
The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who is the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, and not as described by the noble Earl, Lord Carlisle, is by far the most versatile speaker on the Government Front Bench and we look forward to his speech. I wish to ask him two or three
With regard to the Bowes Museum, I am delighted to hear that steps are being taken. It is one of our great regional museums and I hope that it will not be forced to curtail its activities or, even worse, to close. Finally, can the Minister do anything to address the problem at the Tower raised by my noble friend Lord Eden? I had not heard about it, but that kind of thing should not happen at all.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Puttnam has been congratulated by every speaker, and rightly so. He has opened up a remarkable debate on a wide range of subjects. Looking back at all the contributions, he united us on the big issues, even though we disagreed on many secondary issues. We are all united on the centrality of art in our society and we have pride in being so good at it. That is one of the aspects that has come to light as a result of speeches on almost every art form.
In responding to the debate, my job is largely to express the Government's point of view and to defend them when they are criticised. However, first, I wish to refer to three themes which have run through the debate. I am not sure whether I shall become personally involved in all of them. The first is the classic debate between high and low art and high and low culture. My noble friend Lord Puttnam was criticised for appearing to allow a leak in the dyke of high culture by referring to some matters which other noble Lords do not think of as being what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, proudly described as "highbrow". A number of noble Lords took part in that debate, almost all on the highbrow side.
I issue only one word of caution; let us never be quite so clear that we know what is high and what is low culture and will be seen to be so in 100 or 200 years. Your Lordships will remember the great kitsch scene in Brecht and Weill's "Mahagonny", where the retired loggers, are persuaded that they have come to heaven on earth and have to listen to appalling barrel organ music. Eventually they say: "Das ist ewig kunst"; it is eternal art. I believe that we might sometimes fall into that trap.
The next issue is the debate between the economic and aesthetic importance of art. If my exposition, such as it is, of the Government's position tends to concentrate on the economic importance of art, that is not because I in any way underestimate the aesthetic importance or the centrality of art in our society, not just in our economy. However, your Lordships must understand that if the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to obtain money for the arts it must persuade other departments, notably the Treasury, that there are economic benefits for our society, too.
The third theme which ran through the debate more prominently than I expected--and I was pleased--was the dual importance, first, of art in education and, secondly, of art as education. I hope to refer to both those issues as I set out my stall.
I repeat that we are brilliantly good at art in so many ways. I am not talking about "cool Britannia". The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, spoke of the National Theatre production of "Othello" in China and there are many such examples. I shall comment on the work of the British Council later. But, after all, in an art form which was not referred to very much, we won nine Oscar nominations this year and six Oscar nominations last year. That must be worth something.
Before I leave the general points, I should like to illustrate the economic versus the aesthetic view and the social versus the individual view by quoting somebody who is probably not quoted very often in your Lordships' House. Trotsky, in Literature and Revolution, 1924, said:
I start by saying that the Government acknowledge and welcome the diversity of art--and that comes back to the discussions we have had on high versus low art forms. A number of noble Lords, and notably the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and my noble friends Lord Ponsonby and Lady Amos, have referred to the diversity which has come to our culture, particularly in recent years, from writers such as Ben Okri, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro and many others, and the contribution which art can make to the building of a multi-cultural, multi-racial community. The point made by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, that art is central to that mission, is very well taken.
Noble Lords will be fed up with the mantra of this Government "for the many, not the few". But in this case, it is appropriate that I should remind the House of it and remind the House how determined we are not just to promote the arts but to promote the arts for as many people as possible. I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, with his passionate defence of the artist's contribution to society, will feel that that is an inadequate argument. I hope that as I proceed, he will feel less than fed up about much of what we are doing.
The noble Lord, Lord Hindlip, referred to the necessity for both private and public sponsorship of the arts. About 18 per cent. of the income of the arts in this country comes from central government. That is a reasonable proportion, although the argument will continue in different arts as to where it applies. My noble friend Lord Jenkins, reflecting on his time as Minister for the Arts, represents a view to which many of us would wish to return but the cold winds of globalisation and economic competition make it extremely difficult for us. However, I agree in particular with the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that the Government should be an enabler rather than a provider so far as possible.
When referring to the economic aspects of the arts, a number of noble Lords have talked as though we concentrate too much on the mechanical rather than the creative arts. That is not the case. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Feldman, that the Creative Industry Task Force includes the arts and music as well as design, media, film, software and publishing. I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, that it includes also architecture and the built environment. It is designed to improve the economic circumstances in which our creative industries--a phrase I do not like--can develop and flourish. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that it is addressing also the issues of intellectual property and piracy. It is quite important that those should be included.
I turn now to the really fundamental issue of education to which many noble Lords referred, and quite rightly. The noble Lords, Lord Gibson, Lord Hastings, Lord Inglewood and many others appeared to be very worried by the fact that the national curriculum, particularly in primary schools, now includes more specific provision for the three Rs and is more flexible in other areas. They should not be afraid. I am surprised that anybody should object to specific provision for the three Rs being made in our primary schools. I thought that that was a point which was now quite widely agreed. We are not saying that artistic education, cultural education, should be downgraded either in our primary or secondary schools. But there should be a greater degree of flexibility and less of the prescription to schools by central government as regards what should be done which was, I am afraid, a feature of the final years of the last administration. I hope that the years will show that the change will not be to the disbenefit of education in the arts in either our primary or our secondary schools.
The noble Lord, Lord Feldman, proposed something which he called an "arts passport" for under-18s. If he looks at the new audience programmes which were announced yesterday, and which will be elaborated upon in the next few days, he will find that we are doing very much the same as he proposes.
Particular attention was quite rightly paid to music in schools. Certainly the statistics are appalling. The number of children learning instruments has gone down significantly in recent years. With the noble Lords, Lord Beloff, Lord Balfour, Lord Hastings and the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, I agree about the importance of music teaching in our schools.
We have set up a music forum which is concerned with the music industry more widely but it has identified straight away music education in schools as one of its priorities. It has not yet reached conclusions because there are still issues to be determined as to whether we need a national body to promote music in schools and how we can involve working orchestras and players in our schools. However, we have that problem in hand and we are addressing it seriously. I should add also that the National Endowment for Science and Technology and the Arts, (NESTA) which is an important part of the National Lottery Bill--which has just passed through your Lordships' House unscathed--includes a recognition of the need for financial support for individuals of particular talent in the arts in music and all the other arts as well as in science and technology.
Before leaving that point, perhaps I may refer to the subject of literature, raised by my noble friend Lady Rendell, and another noble Lord. My noble friend referred to the National Year of Reading. I should like to add to what she said about the importance of promoting libraries. Indeed, we are working together with the Department for Education and Employment on major programmes for promoting the work of our local libraries.
Until we heard the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, for which I thank him, we did not hear much about the importance to our economy of the arts as exports. I acknowledge the work of the British Council, which is in the forefront of presenting the best of British creativity through over 2,000 arts events to be mounted this year. The noble Lord chose one, but I could give at least 20 examples. However, I shall spare your Lordships that exposition. If the arts are as important to our economy as I believe they are--£50 billion in our gross national product--then the export value of our artistic industry should not be underestimated. I believe the figure for that is £12 billion.
I feel that I have already dealt as far as I can with music in schools. However, I should like to refer briefly to the suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Simon as regards crime and disorder. Indeed, he spoke of Delius having charms to soothe the savage breast. I must say that it sounds a little like "anti-musak" to me, and I do not care for it. Nevertheless, I have no doubt that the Home Office will be interested in what my noble friend said and in the experiment that he described.
We are also concerned to ensure that the training provision fully meets the industry's needs and that there is a financial framework which facilitates and encourages investment in the British film industry. Incidentally, I should tell the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, that there were very significant improvements in the tax treatment of film finance in the July 1997 Budget. When the noble Lord studies it, I hope that he will agree that those improvements were very significant and widely welcomed by the industry. The review group is also interested in export performance and in attracting inward investment. We look forward to receiving that report shortly.
I suppose that it is tempting fate in the presence of the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, to refer to the National Lottery legislation. However, a number of noble Lords referred to the need for more flexible funding within the existing distributors on the National Lottery. I believe that the National Lottery legislation, which your Lordships approved, will go a good way towards achieving that aim. What we cannot do--and, indeed, will never be able to do--is put revenue funding on an equal footing with capital funding. If we were to do so, revenue funding would gradually silt up the amount of money available so that there would be no capital left.
However, we can ensure that distributors seek out need rather than waiting for applicants to come to them. We can also help distributors to cut down on bureaucracy and require them to produce strategic plans which will ensure that applicants know the way their minds work, and avoid time-wasting with irrelevant applications. We have allowed distributors to pool funds in joint schemes and to use vouchers. I believe that all those initiatives are significant improvements which I hope the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, will recognise.
The noble Marquess, Lord Bath, made a passionate plea for our regional culture. One of the things that we are doing within the National Lottery is to encourage regional distribution funds and thereby promote regional culture. The regional development agencies which the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is to establish will include members from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to give effect to that aim. The same will be true of all lottery delegation.
I leave that point with thanks to my noble friend Lord Montague of Oxford for saving me from the necessity of spelling out the wonderful projects of the Millennium Fund, which will cover all parts and all regions of this country, and, indeed, all countries of this nation outside Greenwich--to which, too, I shall refrain from referring.
Many things remain for us to do. We recognise that fact. For example, NESTA is still not in place. I recognise the point that the noble Lord, Lord Charteris, made on the need to keep up the endowment of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the same will be true of NESTA. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has been most helpful as regards our thinking in that respect.
The noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, made a strange comment about us only encouraging commercially successful artists. In due course, I believe that the noble Earl will find that that is not the case. One of the points about NESTA is that we are prepared to take risks which the venture capital market is not necessarily prepared to take. Indeed, I believe that that is something significantly different. We want to work with local authorities very much more than we have in the past. We do not want to dictate to them, but we recognise that there are difficulties with the constraints on local authority expenditure.
The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, said that local authority museums were the Cinderellas of the museum world; and, reluctantly, I acknowledge that that has at times been the case. I shall return to regional museums later because many noble Lords referred to them. However, the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, made a particular point about the redistribution of collections. That is one of the issues we are considering as part of our departmental spending review. By late summer, I hope that we shall have something positive to say to him.
I said that there were many things that we still need to do; and, indeed, that there are probably many things that we have not done right. We have still not settled the issues surrounding the Royal Opera House. The noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, spoke powerfully on that point. It is not true to say that we have been considering privatising it, which is what the noble Lord suggested. Indeed, that has not been part of our consideration. The noble Lord, Lord Gibson, seemed to think that we were taking control of the future of the Royal Opera House and of English National Opera and putting it into the hands of the department. However, they were always in the hands of the department rather than those of the Arts Council, and the review is being undertaken by an independent body chaired by Sir Richard Eyre. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord will not think that we are being too intrusive in that respect. The report is due by 1st May and I hope that the noble Lord will be happy with its findings--
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