Arts and Culture
Council cuts and the arts
The arts depend on a combination of national and local funding. The disproportionate cuts to local councils in areas like ours have had a damaging impact. Museums Sheffield for example, one of Sheffield’s two successful museum trusts, welcomes 1 million visitors a year. But since 2012 it’s lost 40% of its staff, because of budget cuts. I’ve consistently challenged cuts to our Council, co-ordinating the ‘Fair Deal for Sheffield’ campaign, pressing the case with Treasury Ministers and leading a delegation to the Prime Minister. I have also met with then Minister for the Arts John Glen to discuss funding channels for arts and culture.
Standing up for the BBC
The BBC is an extraordinary national asset, with a strong history of popular high quality programmes and community broadcasting, which I have consistently defended. Back in 2016, I spoke out against Government plans which could have harmed its ability to create popular programming and undermine its independence, and I will oppose the latest attack from Boris Johnson’s Government. I have also made the case for the importance of local radio services, and spoken in Parliament about the value of BBC Radio Sheffield.
An independent and responsible media is vital to an effective democracy, but some parts of our media fall short in that role. I have supported proper media regulation and backed full implementation of the Leveson Report. I’ve challenged misreporting and, after I complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), ‘The Sun’ agreed to publish an apology and correction for their inaccurate article describing Manor as ‘Britain’s worst estate’. I have also asked the Culture Secretary to talk to newspaper editors about how they can improve social cohesion and ensure their reporting doesn’t contribute to division and hatred.
Backing local groups
Alongside meeting up with the heads of local arts organisations, I support local groups wherever possible – like the Sheffield Visual Arts Group and Sheffield Live – and have been involved in fundraising for the theatres, museums and galleries. I’ve also met and supported heritage groups like the Friends of Sheffield Manor Lodge, Friends of Sheffield Castle, Walkley History project and Our Broomhall.
Arts and culture have been hard hit by the pandemic and I backed calls from Sheffield City Region Music Board to provide more tailored and flexible support for the music industry. Along with music, the events and creative industries continue to be left out of Government support packages, on which I questioned the Business Secretary.
I have also called for support for actors, performers, lighting and set designers and those who work in other areas left out from Covid support schemes.
Our departure from the European Union has left so many performers without guarantees that they will be able to tour and perform without fees. I have take these issues up through the UK Trade and Business Commission and wrote to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on the issue asking him to rethink his approach and work collaboratively with the EU.
This is a selection of my work on these issues. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.