Labour reveals austerity’s toll on culture spending

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
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YORKSHIRE has lost £16m in arts funding over the last six years and faces further cuts as a result of Brexit, Labour claimed today.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson published new figures suggesting councils across the country have cut £165m from their arts and culture budgets since 2010.

The party also claimed Yorkshire could lose out further as Brexit is likely to cut off the region from European Union support from the arts.

Labour estimates the North of England benefits from European cultural funds to the tune of around £1.4m a year.

Non-EU countries can take part in European programmes but have to meet certain roles and pay a contribution.

However, the Government has refused to set out publicly its Brexit plans.

Mr Watson, Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary, said: “The UK’s rich artistic and cultural heritage is the envy of the world and something everyone in this country can be proud of.

“While Labour made the landmark decision to make our national museums to the public free of charge, opening up access to millions, new figures we’ve obtained have shown that arts and culture funding has been cut by £165 million since the Tories came to power with local councils and arts organisations now set to lose out on millions more when we leave the EU. If the Government is going to make a success of Brexit and create a ‘country that works for everyone’ it must create a country that works for the arts too. 

“But right now we’ve got a Government that’s slashing arts funding and sidelining them from the Brexit top table.”

Mr Watson will set out proposals to devolve culture spending decisions to a local level ahead of the 15th anniversary tomorrow of free access to national museums.

Labour’s figures have been published amid ongoing uncertainty over the future of Leeds’s European Capital of Culture bid in the wake of the Brexit vote.