On Wednesday 3rd July, Harriet Harman, Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, and Shadow Culture Minister, Dan Jarvis MP, visited Bristol as part of a UK-wide One Nation Arts Tour.
Discussions took place as new figues show the disparity in the funding of the arts between London and the regions. Philanthropic giving works out as £2.83 per head in the South West, compared to £59.52 in London. Similarly, the Arts Council speands £3.05 per head on arts organisation in the South West, compared to £21.33 per head in London, which is home to big national institutions.
This tour has the purpose of flagging up the importance of the arts. Ms Harman told the Bristol Post that they were not just about people enjoying leisure activities, but created jobs and growth: “For every pound spent on arts and culture, you get back 4 pounds in terms of benefit to the economy. This means we are talking about economic growth and jobs for young people in the creative industry for the future, not just about leisure activities.”
The national tour launches in Bristol in order to discuss how the arts and culture can be helped and to put pressure on the Government to protect them during the recession.
The event in the city centre will bring together actors and animators as well as politicians and a wide range of people who work in the industry. Ms Harman said that she believed there was a great deal that councils could do to foster the arts and culture without speding large amounts of money. They could, for example, close streets, as Bristol has started doing, to encourage outdoor entertainment as well as provide back office facilities: “Bristol is the ideal place to start the tour because it is a very exciting time with everything that is going on in the city at the moment.”