The changes the Conservative Government has made to the UK’s creative industry have been so successful they have been imitated across the world, according to the minister of state for digital and culture Matt Hancock.
Speaking at the first of four Creative Industries Federation events that will focus on the creative strategies of each of the four main parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP), Hancock claimed that over the last eight years the Tories had made Britain “the most exciting creative industry on the planet.”
Citing the tax breaks it’s given to the creative industry and its focus on developing creative “ecosystems” in areas such as Belfast, Manchester and Hull, Hancock argued that his party’s approach to Britain’s creative sector had been “imitated across the world” and that sectors such as advertising had a “responsibility” to vote Conservative.
Hancock provoked ironic laughter from the audience when he reiterated Prime Minister Theresa May’s “strong and stable leadership,” which has been a much-repeated catchphrase during the General Election 2017 campaign. But he used the event to spell out the key areas in which the Conservative’s will aim to support the UK’s creative industry should they get re-elected on 8 June.
Primarily, this will involve getting the best possible deal for Brexit. This is something Hancock said he was “personally invested in” and he will visit Brussels next week to try to work out a better deal for the UK’s creative industry, which relies heavily on free movement and European workers.
He also said there is an opportunity to look outside London and ensure the government is “harnessing every single part of the country”. Pointing to the government’s extra funding for music hubs, he believes free schools present an opportunity to create more areas that specialise in a particular creative discipline.
The Tories will also focus on developing new rules so intellectual property is “properly defended” in the internet age.
Hancock told delegates: “We don’t want to get just the best possible Brexit deal for Britain but the best possible deal for our creative industry as well.
“Yes, it is important Britain continues to have a good business relationship with Europe but EU trade deals don’t necessarily have a cultural chapter. There’s just as many opportunities for the creative sector to link up with the rest of the world.”
We don’t want to just get the best possible Brexit deal for Britain but the best possible deal for our creative industry as well.
Matt Hancock, Conservatives
When asked whether Brexit would make it harder for the creative industry to attract top talent from Europe, Hancock countered: “We’ve got to ensure we bring back control of our immigration system but also still attract the brightest and best talent. It isn’t our aim to completely reinvent the whole system.”
The Tories, meanwhile, will continue to make apprenticeships a “mainstream” concept and Hancock claimed the government hadn’t made it harder for working class children to enter the creative industry by, at times, cutting the government’s budget for the arts over the last eight years. “We know that you can’t spread excellence by undermining excellence,” he rebuked.
Earlier this week, the Labour party revealed its own manifesto. It said it would put the creative industry “at the heart” of Brexit negotiations and launch a creative careers advice campaign into schools. Jeremy Corbyn’s party will also introduce a £1bn Cultural Capital Fund to upgrade the UK’s existing cultural and creative infrastructure.
However, Hancock argued that while the likes of Labour has committed to raising the arts budget in its manifesto, they have “no idea” how to actually pay for this investment.