Does it matter to us who’s in the next government?

Convener(s): Tassos Stevens 

Participants: included… Jonathan Holmes, Jon Spooner, David Betz-Heinemann, Mark Moreau, Chris Goode, Lyndsey Jackson, Greg McLaren, Jonny Liron, and many others I don’t have


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

The headlines…

It doesn’t matter to us with respect to the likely funding landscape which party is in power. The Tories will cut funding to the arts, Labour will have the rhetoric but very likely that provision will be eroded. We end up in the same place.

If we want to challenge this, then we need to lobby and campaign effectively to make the argument for the value of the arts in our society. Very practical thinking ensued. 

Jonathan Holmes has taken the lead and mailed the following around, which summarises beautifully where we’re at; mail him on [email protected] if you want to get involved.


[I’ll  write up additional notes from the session and post at]

This is by way of a follow-up to the discussion at D & D on Sunday about the importance of the general election result to the arts.

We concluded that, whichever party forms the next government, the likely impact on arts funding will be negative, and the only partisan difference will be the rhetoric and processes accompanying the inevitable cuts. In fact, it's probable that the next governmental spending review will have a devastating outcome for all in the arts unless we act very quickly.

It follows that the time to do something about this is now, when there's a chance of influencing election manifestos and campaign pledges, rather than after the fact, when the task will be so much harder. It's easier to influence a decision in the process of being thought through than it is to reverse one already made.

Several examples of successful lobbying campaigns were discussed on Sunday, such as the campaign to save BAC, the climate change lobby, Joanna Lumley and the Gurkhas and so forth. Each of these has elements from which we can learn, and most importantly they all demonstrate that something CAN be done, if we want it to be. If we do nothing now then we'll have no right to complain when everything goes pear-shaped in a few years' time.

An immediate action we agreed upon was the creation of a document in which all the arguments for the value of the arts - economic, social, philosophical, political - were gathered together in one place. This would then form the basis of a campaign manifesto which would sit at the core of all our activities. 

I offered to compile this document to set the ball rolling, but it's a lot of work and I'd appreciate your help - if there are any nuggets of evidence you can supply to demonstrate the value of the arts, please pass them over. It's really important that such nuggets be facts or statistics, NOT anecdotes or dearly held personal beliefs; the campaign has to be as empirical and non-ideological as possible.

As to the next step, it was suggested that the best way of organising this might be a kind of cellular structure, with everyone doing what they could in their own way and connecting via a set of principles and methods, rather than setting up a formal organisation. But it seems that this would still need a kind of a steering group to co-ordinate certain activities. So maybe the best next step would be to arrange a particular D & D session at the Actors' Centre to talk all this through?

Finally, to gauge ongoing support for starting such a campaign, could I ask you all to reply to this email, indicating how involved you're able to be? One line will do, and all levels of involvement, from the tiny to the considerable, are appreciated. And if no-one responds, I won't rush around writing the arts value document... Equally, if there are people you know who want to be involved, please pass their emails over and I'll add them to this initial list; perhaps someone else could then take over from me in administering the group...?!

I know from conversations elsewhere that there's a significant groundswell of support for this sort of campaign throughout the arts world; let's not let the opportunity pass by!

Thanks everyone, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!