Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis will appear at the dispatch box for the first time as Shadow Culture Minister on Thursday.
The South Yorkshire MP was promoted to the frontbench during October’s reshuffle which also saw Harriet Harman QC MP become the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Speaking ahead of the debate Jarvis explained, “When Ed Miliband offered me the job as Shadow Culture Minister I was delighted. I know that the people involved in the Arts and Cultural Sector are extremely passionate people. Often, their work is much more than their job – it is a way of life – I completely understand and appreciate that. That is why I have used my first three weeks to meet with as many people as I can, and I’ve been really impressed.
“I have been exposed to the true genius of our cultural sector. A genius based on innovation and ideas, on creativity and ingenuity, on courage and conviction. Today Britain is a world leading country of culture and this did not happen by chance, but by choice.
“Over the thirteen years that Labour was in office, investment in people, in innovation and in education, meant that we were finally fulfilling our promise as an island of creativity. I am in no doubt, that the skills on display by our artists, musicians, technicians, scientists, architects and art curators are skills that the whole of Britain should value, and skills that I want to become commonplace amongst ordinary people across all of the British Isles.
“I know that Art and Culture in Barnsley is very different to the Art and Culture of Birmingham, but I also know that we, as a country, are proud of our diversity and celebrate it none the less.”
He continued, “Three weeks in and I am in no doubt about the challenge that Culture in Britain faces under this Tory-led government. I share the frustrations of many that I have met. The Labour party’s commitment to the Arts and Cultural Sector was clear for all to see, and whilst I accept that more could have been done, I know that we achieved a great deal and I know that the next Labour government will do it again.
“Labour investment created the ‘Golden decade’ for the cultural sector. A decade that saw employment in advertising rise by half a million. A decade that saw employment in architecture grow by 2% each year. A decade that saw Video, Film and Photography exports increase from £710 million to £1.2billion. It was a decade that saw free entry into UK museums and a surge in visitors with a commensurate boost to the economy. It was a decade that saw Liverpool use the Arts to become the European Capital of Culture and rebrand itself to make it the 21st Century world class city that it is today. It was a decade in which the Arts and Culture finally became accessible to a far broader audience and with it came a new found respect and recognition.
“That legacy is in real danger today. The government’s refusal to recognise the Arts and Cultural sector as a key pillar of economic growth is a huge mistake and a missed opportunity. Britain is no longer a manufacturing economy but rather a knowledge-based economy. We should strive to create an environment where the arts and cultural sectors can flourish and play a leading role in sustainable, economic growth for the whole of the UK.
Ed Vaizey said in 2006, “I am friend of the arts lobby.” What kind of a friend cuts arts organisations to the point of collapse because they are not prepared to stand up to the Treasury? What kind of friend stands by and allows libraries to close whilst doing nothing to help local authorities find a better solution for their communities?
“I will continue to meet people who are experts in the Arts and Cultural sector. Over the next few months, I will be hosting roundtables with industry experts as well as writing three important reports – ‘Arts in the Regions’, ‘The Real Value of the Arts’ and ‘A Vision for 21st Century Libraries.’
“The Arts and Cultural sector must be nurtured and not neglected. It cannot be treated like a second-rate sector as the government have been doing. I promised when I took the job that I would stand up for the industry against the government’s reckless cuts and on Thursday I will do just that.”