Nick Clegg outlines the Lib Dems’ arts manifesto

While Gordon Brown was busy hauling the UK press pack over Gillian Duffy’s front lawn yesterday Nick Clegg took a more constructive tack and, writing in The Stage, chose to talk a little about the arts. Whatever your views on any of the parties, there are some attractive pull quotes in here:

One of the peculiarities of election campaigns, and this one is no exception, is that some issues are designated ‘political’ and some are not. The arts is one of those issues that doesn’t normally get on to the question lists of interviewers, and politicians are probably just as much to blame.

But the truth is that more people take part in cultural activity in this country than vote.

I want to build a new economy, in which we no longer worship risk-taking and greed, but we value ideas and expression.

Liberals have, encrypted into our DNA, a belief that creativity is what moves society forward. Innovation and spontaneity have always been our weapons against old, established orders. Throughout history, arts and culture have been a way of bringing people together, but they have also always been the tools by which we subvert vested interests and break open concentrations of power. Creativity, put simply, is what makes change possible.

We’ll also end the bureaucratic nightmares that hold performers back, like Labour’s live music licensing system, for example. It has become a complicated, time-consuming regime which has even caught schools, hospitals and colleges in its tentacles, and is stifling the kind of small-scale live music that is so important for the future.

So we’ll exempt small venues with capacities of less than 200 and go back to the rule where any venue can put on a performance of un-amplified music by one or two people without a licence. That is how we can foster new talent and new community venues.

Practical help, an end to pointless restrictions and an elevation of creativity in school.

I’m still a little suspicious – the section on reducing the ‘restrictive’ national curriculum in order to foster individual pupil creativity sounds good but is a little thin on specifics, and Clegg falls into the New Labour trap of eliding ‘arts’ and ‘sports’ under the banner of ‘culture’ – but this seems like a good start to me. Regrettably, while the media continues to obsess over the life and views of a single Rochdale pensioner there seems little chance of any of this going further.


4 thoughts on “Nick Clegg outlines the Lib Dems’ arts manifesto

  1. It’s easy to be suspicious about the lack of specifics, but there are two conflicting truths here that make it more an act of faith to side with Clegg on this: (1) we don’t really know what any party will actually do once they get into power but we can make (largely cynical) guesses based on their past performance; (2) we don’t have much Lib Dem past performance to go on, so maybe he actually will do what we read into his vague statements of principle.

    I like his approach to licensing for sure, and I really hope the MU and other heavyweights don’t bash him on this as a reflex action.

  2. Don’t forget that the LibDems have also promised to repeal the loathsome and tyrannical Digital Economy Bill! (which affects musicians profoundly, of course)

    I switched from being a Tory voter to a LibDem one during the “wash-up” in which the Tories colluded with Labour to rush through the DEB before the election. Having now read up on the rest of their (the LDs) policies, I really think they are a very good alternative to the more pleasant aspects of the Tories (with few or none of the worst aspects of the Tories) and I hope the “impossible” happens and they win!

    (Jeremy Hunt, the Tory “culture” [sic] shadow, is quite impressive though I must say)

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