Jowell rejects arts 'betrayal' claims

There will be no return to the stop-start funding that disrupted the arts under the Tories as long as Labour is in power, Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, has pledged.

There will be no return to the stop-start funding that disrupted the arts under the Tories as long as Labour is in power, Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, has pledged.

Responding to the angry concerns of cultural leaders expressed in The Independent recently, Ms Jowell strongly defended the Government's record of increasing spending on the arts by 60 per cent in the past six years.

"You would have to be living in a parallel universe to say that is going back to the bad old days. It's just a denial of reality," she said yesterday.

Nicholas Hytner, of the National Theatre, Vikki Heywood, of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Ruth Mackenzie, a former special adviser to the Department for Culture, have all warned of the potentially devastating impact of freezing the Arts Council's grant at its 2005-06 level for the following two years. The Arts Council calculates this to be a £30m cut and Ms Mackenzie said it felt like "betrayal".

But Ms Jowell insisted there should be no cuts as the Arts Council will be allowed to use £37m not spent from the budget of Creative Partnerships, the project which introduces children from the most deprived areas of Britain to the arts. By lifting the ring-fencing that applied to the scheme, the Arts Council should have enough money to award inflation-matching increases plus 1 or 2 per cent in its grants. In 2007-08, the Government will also establish a £6m fund to support quality and innovation in response to artists' pleas for help in nurturing new talent.

"Given the strictures that have been placed on every budget in Government, that's a pretty good settlement. It's been a very tough spending round," Ms Jowell said. "I understand the anxiety that artists have because for many people the memory of those bad old days - not just the lack of money but the sense of being an utterly optional extra to the kind of country we are - singed deep.

"But as long as there is a Labour government, we will never go back to that, because of our belief in the importance of the arts and of culture. I think funding for the arts is as important in shaping the kind of country that we're becoming as having a National Health Service that everybody uses."

After facing criticisms last week from Sir Christopher Frayling, chairman of the Arts Council, that the Government was being increasingly prescriptive over how money should be spent, Ms Jowell said the Government was entitled to make some demands if it was handing over £1.2bn over the next three years.

But she dismissed as "nonsense" Sir Christopher's contention that politicians were embarrassed by the arts. "For enormous numbers of politicians the arts and culture are what they escape into. One of my greatest conflicts today is that I can't go to the opening of Caravaggio [at the National Gallery]," she said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power