Shadow culture Minister Chris Bryant MP outlined priorities in arts and culture under a Labour government during a keynote speech to Birmingham’s creative sector.
Universal access to arts for people of all backgrounds, the need to make art and creativity a bedrock of the education system in all schools, broadening access to career opportunities in the creative industries and ensuring a fairer division of investment in the creative and cultural sector across the UK were highlighted during Bryant's speech at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth.
The MP for Rhondda claimed his party would maintain the policy of the last Labour Government of free admission to national museums and galleries, which saw total visitor numbers double and the number of ethnic minority visitors treble in the first ten years.
"It is 50 years since Jennie Lee launched the revolutionary white paper A Policy for the Arts, which argued that the arts should be for all," he said.
"I cannot stand before you today and promise the same doubling and trebling of budgets because we live in a different world at the moment."
Bryant promised Labour would offer the creative industries "a time of love in a cold climate", pledging the party's commitment to strengthening the role of arts in education, increasing apprenticeships in the cultural and creative industries, ending zero hours contracts and ensuring organisations paid the living wage in the arts.
Referring to local government cuts which have disproportionately hit some parts of the country and had a devastating impact on the arts and culture in some regions, he also pledged a fairer and more transparent spread of investment, so economic recovery was felt across the UK and not just in the capital.
"We cannot allow the continued divide between London's artistic feast and artistic famine elsewhere," Bryant said, highlighting the fact that Department for Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council funding is currently around £68 per head in the capital but averages around £4.58 per head in the rest of the country.
While acknowledging the creative industries were competing for increasingly tight budget pots, he emphasised they were seen by Labour as an essential contributor to economic recovery, not a detractor from it.
"Creativity is the long term powerhouse for the UK economy," he said.
"We have a world beating mixed ecology within the creative sector, which accounts for one in 12 jobs across the UK, yet there were only 1,000 apprenticeship starts last year.
"We pledge to work with companies to increase apprenticeships, so that careers in the arts and creative industries are accessible to talent from all backgrounds, not just those who can afford to take on unpaid placements because they can rely on support from wealthy families."
Bryant also discussed issues of diversity, particularly within film and television, stating Ofcom should monitor diversity, both on and off screen.
"Top multinational corporations have recognised the value of diversity and the arts must too," he said.
Part of the Custard Factory, it is home to 44 creative and digital businesses including One Black Bear, Shadow Giants, Tomorrow People, Rice Media, Media Dog, Tinker Taylor TV, Into Film, Maverick Television and the BBC's new digital innovation unit.
The event was organised by the Creative Industries Federation, the national membership organisation for the public arts, cultural education and creative industries.