Political Manifestos vs. The Arts: what do the political policies on the arts mean for young people working in the creative industries?

Charlotte gives This Is It! her views on the upcoming election and the potential impact it could have on young people in the Creative and Cultural Industries. Want to have your say? If you’re interested in writing for This Is It! drop Izzy an email for the chance to get your views out there. 


Being a young person at the start of your career is hard enough, let alone if you’ve chosen to try and break into the cultural industries! Since the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government came into effect in 2010, the arts have faced harsh cuts and austerity measures at every turn, making it harder and harder for people to find employment in the sector, least of all those of us with minimal experience. However, the manifestos for the upcoming election in May have seen the arts gain greater prominence amongst policy debate.

the Conservatives seem reluctant to commit any significant funding to arts and cultural activities.

The Conservatives plan to maintain free access to museums and potentially extend tax reliefs for businesses within the cultural industries. However, whilst their manifesto states that the Conservatives will “aim to abolish long-term youth unemployment” by creating more internships and apprenticeships , there is no apparent discussion of continued internships for the arts, which many (myself included) would argue have been vital to helping young people gain further employment in the sector. Similarly, despite the creative industries being the fastest growing economic sector of recent years, the Conservatives seem reluctant to commit any significant funding to arts and cultural activities.

On the face of things, Labour appears to be a party who hold the arts in high esteem, their manifesto stating that “arts and culture gives form to our hopes and aspirations and defines our heritage as a nation.” They plan to work alongside public bodies to rebalance funding within the cultural sector, which could potentially improve employment opportunities. Moreover, Labour has attempted to focus in on young people’s prospects within the creative industries, highlighting the importance of instilling creativity in education, and promising to “increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries.” Although Labour’s manifesto offers no specific figures for their apprenticeship plans, it could be considered a step in the right direction for helping young people get into work in this diverse industry. Perhaps also worth mentioning is Labour’s plan to raise the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to £8 per hour by 2019, a promising improvement for those of us earning NMW.

I would argue it is more essential than ever for young people currently in creative apprenticeships and intern positions to make the most of their opportunities

Similarly to Labour, the Liberal Democrats seem to place a lot of value on the arts and culture, stating that they are “crucial to Britain’s success and essential for personal fulfilment and quality of life.” However, the Lib Dem manifesto gives very little away about their plans for the creative industries, bar maintaining independence and autonomy for the BBC and national museums. Whilst they appear to value the importance of creativity in education and also plan to offer more apprenticeships, the Liberal Democrats have not laid out any explicit plans concerning opportunities for young people wanting to work in the cultural and creative sectors.

We are the next generation, and without our passion for the industry and drive to make it succeed in spite of whichever party is in government, we will never be able to give the arts and culture the recognition they deserve,

Of the smaller parties, the focus on the arts and culture is mixed. UKIP has laid out plans to abolish the Department for Culture, Media and sport altogether (by absorbing it’s duties into other departments), whilst the Green Party aims to increase arts funding by £500 million per year with a view to “make culture available to all.

No matter the outcome of the upcoming election, it is highly likely that the arts are facing a continued period of instability and uncertain employment opportunities. I would argue it is more essential than ever for young people currently in creative apprenticeships and intern positions to make the most of their opportunities and try as best they can to take their careers into their own hands. We are the next generation, and without our passion for the industry and drive to make it succeed in spite of whichever party is in government, we will never be able to give the arts and culture the recognition they deserve, or provide a sustainable employment for ourselves and the generations to come.


Charlotte Bryan

Charlotte has been employed as Communications Intern at Geese CharlotteTheatre Company since November 2014, as part of the Creative Employment Programme. She is passionate about the arts in all formats, but her particular love is theatre.

Twitter @CharBry23

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