Imagine a world without decent health provision and education, without efficient public transport or care for the old. This prospect is materialising before our eyes in this new age of austerity. Now imagine a world without television drama, film, concerts, recordings, art galleries or theatre, variety entertainment, opera and ballet. Just as the NHS, schools and all our public services are suffering, so our everyday world of cultural experience is being diminished and devalued. We need food, shelter and transport to survive. We need good health and education. Equally, we need the human experience and enlightenment, entertainment and sheer fun provided by imaginative and creative inspiration and expression.
Creativity and culture are not an add-on, a surplus luxury we can only afford when other needs of social life have been dealt with. We experience cultural life individually and collectively every minute of our work and leisure, whether through music, art and photography, dance, theatre, TV, film or video games. The arts run through our lives like a grain through wood characterising and strengthening us.
It is these experiences that give the arts a unique, vital and intrinsic value for us, something irreplaceable by anything else. More than this, they help us to get our bearings in the world and to understand and critique society in ways that factual information cannot because they address not just our intellectual understanding but our whole humanity, our emotions, aspirations, visions of a future, our collective human spirit, compassion and drive to make life better. Take this away and you diminish the whole of society and what’s best in us.
We also see the value of cultural activities spread into other areas where they have an instrumental and powerful effect, as will be indicated throughout this document, for example:
- for social inclusion, enrichment of life quality and local regeneration
- for physical and mental health
- for enhancing education and learning ability
- for the economy
- for tourism
- for engaging young people and creating confidence and motivation
- for skills creation and transferability and increasing employment chances
- for national reputation
Equity’s arts policy aims to promote sustainable, optimistic and fulfilling careers for our members and other arts workers within a valued and equitable arts and entertainment industry that serves a wide and inclusive audience.
To achieve this, a radical overhaul of UK arts and culture is needed.
The aims we set out must inform future campaigning, both in the short and long-term. We recognise that many of our policies below will take time, effort, vision and determination and that we need to engage with organisations outside the union – other trades unions, political parties, local authorities and central government, arts organisations, audiences, theatre and media managements, and funders – in ongoing joint campaigning on a number of fronts.
We will promote
- Increased public funding and ownership by central and local government to ensure the expansion of the performing arts with greater employment on a living wage.
- Fully inclusive representation and access for all practitioners and audiences, widening the audience, and restoring and extending arts education.
- An equitable balance of funding, without cuts to established areas, through a restructured national, regional and local funding system, and the establishment of more inclusive artistically and socially based criteria for funding.
- Creative leadership, and accountability of funding bodies to practitioners, trades unions and audiences.
- Recognition of Variety, circus and all entertainment disciplines as art forms, establishment of new venues and recruitment of young entertainers.
- Protection and enhancement of public service broadcasting and UK film production and the creation of a publicly owned and financed film producing sector.