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OPINION – This is exactly the wrong time to cut arts funding


R

ight now, the future doesn’t look very bright. We face a possible recession, we have the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation and young people in the UK are far worse off than their parents.

But with the right decisions now, the Government can start to change that. They should begin by funding the creative sector properly in next week’s Autumn Statement.

Stormzy at the Roundhouse in 2017

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From Doctor Who and Stormzy, to Vivenne Westwood and Grand Theft Auto — the UK, and London, has been at the centre of creativity for decades. The creative industries are growing five times faster than the rest of the economy, there are huge skills gaps in areas like broadcast, and our education system doesn’t offer access to creativity and creative skills as it did in the past.

Here at the Roundhouse we contribute to that too. As well as being a venue, we also work with more than 7,500 young people a year in our studios. We work with these young people to give them access to creative spaces — to allow them to explore their own creativity and offer them a chance to learn new skills — from song-writing to sound engineering, podcasting to poetry. Next spring, we’ll open Roundhouse Works — a new space which will allow us to reach double the number of young people. It’s not just the arts that benefit from investment in industries like ours. Businesses need creative thinkers. It’s one of the attributes that employers look for, according to the World Economic Forum. It’s useful across the spectrum, from computer coding to engineering.

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Post-Covid, the Government wisely invested £1.6 billion into the creative sector, which kept Britain at the centre of global conversations. But we mustn’t take our creative sector for granted. We’ve seen in the past few days how many of the capital’s arts organisations have had to adjust to lower levels of funding from Arts Council England. Some, like the English National Opera, may have to leave London.

An uncertain future and perhaps a second wave of austerity mean now is precisely the time for the Goverment to double-down and invest into what will be the engine of Britain’s and London’s future economy: creativity.

Marcus Davey is the CEO and artistic director of the Roundhouse

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