Votes Matter: Securing the Future of the Arts

A general election looms on the horizon in the UK, and while I'm encouraged by some politicians' plans to reverse the direction in which the arts and creativity are being forced, recent statements claiming that "creative skills shouldn't be treated as a luxury" resonate deeply with me. However, they should resonate with us all.

We know that experiencing arts and culture is a social good in itself, connecting with health and well-being, happiness, identity and sense of place. But the creative industries are also an economic powerhouse.

The government recently estimated that the creative industries generated a staggering £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. Despite these exceptional figures, it is disheartening that the arts continue to be profoundly undervalued and are often the first to face budget cuts.

True investment in creative thinking

Given this extraordinary social and economic benefit, we need politicians to consider bold, strategic policy options that enable deeper, more meaningful investments to be made in the arts. creative production and employment opportunities.

For example, in Ireland government ministers established an Arts & Culture Taskforce to support the sector to adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to the launch of Basic Income for the Arts—a trial programme investing in the arts, culture, audio-visual and live performance and events sectors over a three-year period.

Innovative approaches like this could open the door to a very different creative future for the UK's next generation of artists and creatives.

By adopting a nationwide model that prioritises the ability for people from any background to access sustainable, rewarding creative careers, the next government can ensure the long-term prosperity of Britain's arts sector - enriching the nation’s cultural life, fostering social cohesion and driving economic growth.

The Call to Action

With genuine investment and recognition of art's transformative power, the UK can maintain its cultural vibrancy and unlock the immense potential for artistic expression to drive social change and collective healing.

At Lighthouse, we are committed to reforming an arts scene that too often holds back talented young people for economic and social reasons. We envision a brighter future for the next generation of inspiring creative thinkers.

Now is the time for change.

This is why we are encouraging everyone to register to vote - and to use that vote to secure a government that values and champions the profound impact of artistic endeavours on individual lives and society as a whole. Let's advocate for a future where the arts are recognised, celebrated, and sustainably resourced.

Creative Learning for All

It is essential that creative learning becomes an integral part of education for everyone—not so that everyone becomes an artist, but so we live in a country where innovative thinking and creative approaches drive progress in every field. Imagine a future with creative engineers, financiers, lawyers, teachers, agricultural operations, councillors.... and politicians. Creative education can equip individuals with the innovative mindset to tackle complex problems, adapt to changing circumstances, and lead with vision and empathy.

To achieve this vision, the next government should undertake a comprehensive review of existing budgets and align them with the insights and expertise of the artists themselves. It is crucial that policy-makers engage directly with local communities and artists who understand their environments' needs and dynamics. By involving these stakeholders from the outset, we can develop policies and initiatives genuinely responsive to Britain's diverse cultural landscape.

The Stakes Are High

Without a change to government policy, the outlook for the arts in the UK is bleak. In our local community alone, the creative landscape is under existential threat from budget cuts. It is increasingly difficult for new creative voices to be heard. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 87% of the arts spaces in Brighton & Hove that once ran regular creative programs have either closed or significantly reduced showing times. Our city's cultural ecosystem is in crisis.

The systematic disregard of the arts over recent years reveals a fundamental lack of recognition for its cultural and societal value.

Those in power often fail to see the vital role of the arts in enriching lives and fostering community. Art is not merely a luxury; it is a fundamental human need—a place of solace, inspiration, imagination, and resilience, as evidenced by the widespread turn to music, written and spoken word, to TV and film, to games and art during the global challenges in 2020.

Without real change, the arts sector risks further devaluation, which will diminish us all. Your vote can make a difference.

Vote and raise your voice to lobby for change.

Alli Beddoes

CEO & Artistic Director

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