Liberals believe that the arts belong to everybody and should be opened up to all. As Liberals we want to foster the maximum participation in artistic and cultural activities and ensure that they are accessible to a wider public.
Administration and Funding
We support the bringing together of all the various government responsibilities for the arts into a single department under a minister with a seat in the cabinet. This was long ago advocated by the Liberal Party.
We also support the delegation to bodies such as the Arts Councils and Regional Arts Boards of decisions about grants. This takes them away from direct political interference. We are however unhappy with the system of appointments to these bodies and want more elected representatives.
The National Lottery
Although welcoming the new funding for the arts generated by the National Lottery we are concerned at the relatively small proportion of the proceeds, 28%, allocated to “causes” while 12% is taken in taxation and 50% in prize money (the balance of 10% is the operating costs and commission paid to retailers). We advocate a revision of the allocation to give the same amount to causes as to prizes.
We believe that the large grants made from Lottery funds to prestige projects do little to encourage or make the arts more accessible to the general public. Liberals therefore call for a larger proportion of the available funds to be directed away from large scale renovations of single venues, to subsidies for arts performances and exhibitions outside London.
The Film Industry
The British film industry has made some recovery in recent years but the high costs of modern film making and long timescales deter private investment. Government action in support of the film industry would create jobs, unlock private investment and boost exports. Accordingly we call for tax incentives for investors in British made films.
We are particularly concerned at the decline of public libraries in many areas with an ageing stock and inadequate investment in new technology. Modern libraries can be important community information centres with on-line access to computer databases, public access to the internet and exhibition space. This updated approach is enthusiastically supported by Liberals.
Broadcasting and the Media
The Liberal Party notes the continuing increase in the quantity of broadcast output due to the availability of more radio frequencies, the growth of satellite and cable transmissions and the larger number of channels to be made available by digital television and radio transmissions. We believe that this growth, with good management and proper regulation, can be harnessed to provide greater consumer choice, easier access to information and more broadcast time for community and minority interests.
- oppose any suggestion to privatise the BBC;
- call for a stricter application of the nine o’clock ‘watershed’ on all channels, as a useful general guideline for parents;
- support moves to prevent the viewing of key sporting events of national importance becoming inaccessible except by subscription;
- call for cheaper broadcasting fees for community radio;
- call for some of the large number of new radio and TV channels created by digitised broadcasting to be allocated for minority and community access.
Liberals believe that the media should be opened up to the public, increasing both its diversity, accessibility and accountability. The power of the “press barons” needs to be curbed and a new statutory body created which is capable of providing swift right of reply and redress procedures, together with easier access to the law in cases of defamation – eg providing the possibility of legal aid in cases of libel or slander.
Liberals believe that good quality public sports facilities are important both for health and community spirit. The decline in sporting activities in schools needs to be reversed and Government support of the Sports Council improved in real terms. Co-ordination of sporting activities between central government, local authorities and other agencies needs to be improved with particular emphasis given to:
- enhancement of existing school facilities for use by both pupils and the wider community;
- the renovation and improvement of older facilities as a more cost effective option than the new prestige projects which so often seem to be preferred.
Liberals also call for adequate sports facilities to be planned into large new housing developments and constructed concurrently, rather than years later as so often happens. We believe that local authorities should give priority to facilities which are not profitable enough to be attractive to the private sector. All sports stadia should be licensed and owners encouraged to extend their use for multipurpose recreation by local communities.