Shadow Culture Minister Dan Jarvis has spoken on the 10th anniversary of free admission into museums and galleries, calling it “one of Labour’s great achievements.”
The Barnsley MP explained, “The 10th anniversary of free admissions into museums and galleries should remind us all of the importance of the arts and culture throughout this country.
“10 years ago the Labour Government was able to enact this very important initiative ensuring that everyone has access to our world class museums and galleries.
“It meant that despite their background, children, young adults, hard working families, the elderly and overseas visitors were, for the very first time, able to view Art collections which are a vital part of our heritage and cultural history.
“Over the last ten years, visitors to government-sponsored museums has leaped from 7 million in 2000/2001 to 18 million in 2010/2011. That is a sign of the phenomenal success of Labour’s plan – something the Conservative Party would never have dreamt of doing.
“I believe that Labour's decision to open the doors of our galleries to all who were interested and not simply to all who could afford to visit, was one of our great achievements. The arts became accessible to people that had previously never been exposed to them, and has, in some cases, acted as a catalyst for people to go on and study the Arts or take jobs in the sector, all of which has helped underpin the success of the UK creative economy.
“Through Labour increasing funding, the art sector was able to diversify the range of art on offer in our museums and galleries which inevitably meant an increase in participation and interest. In fact, recent figures from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, suggest the top 10 UK visitor attractions are free-entry museums. Again, this is a clear sign of Labour’s success.
“In fact, when Labour left office, the Arts in the UK was world leading. Today that position is under threat. With the Tory-led government embarking on a programme of the deepest cuts in living memory, Labour’s golden Arts legacy is in real danger of collapsing.
“In their first year alone we have seen announcements amounting to a 30% cut to the Arts Council budget, and local government funding cut up and down the country.
“Ed Vaizey once claimed he was a ‘friend of the Arts,’ but since he has taken his post in government, he has consistently treated them like a second-rate sector. Instead of nurturing the arts, and extending their provision, this Tory-led government is neglecting them every step of the way.