Toggle high contrast
Issue date
*Creative unions and TUC South West publish manifesto for the creative and cultural industries.
*Arts and culture have been at the sharp end of cuts to services and education

Today, the South West TUC is launching a manifesto calling for increased funding and proper advocacy for the creative and cultural industries. It explains how the arts bring huge benefits to people living in and visiting the South West.  

The South West TUC report details examples where proper investment and support has boosted the regional economy and labour market, as well as revived towns and cities. 

The South West has the highest regional employment in the creative sector, after London and the South East.  

Around a third of all inbound visits involve engagement with the arts and culture. And internally, the adult engagement is consistently higher than the national average; 84% of adults attended at least one event in the previous 12 months, versus 78% in England. Despite this, funding in the region is seriously lacking. 

The South West TUC report is also demanding proper pay and decent working conditions for workers in the industry. Professional artists, musicians, writers and cultural workers are too often being asked to work for free, or for a low fixed rate that takes them well below the national minimum wage.  

Further areas for improvement as set out in the Manifesto include: 

  • Significantly increasing funding for schools to reinstate education in the arts that boost children’s imagination and creative skills necessary for the jobs of the future 

  • Paying all workers involved at least the real living wage, with professional fees for professional artists.  

  • Supporting the ‘50p for Culture’ campaign seeking higher funds from local councils. 

For every £1 of salary paid by the arts and creative industries, an additional £2.01 is put back into the economy. Arts Council report

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley, said:  

“We all benefit from a thriving arts and cultural sector.”  

“These industries greatly enrich the region and are major players in the south west economy. But the sector is fragile and persistently under-resourced.”  

“It’s time the government and local authorities recognise the many advantages access to well-funded arts education and programmes can have for our children and communities.”  

“Government bodies and private investors in the arts must also make good employment standards for every worker a core requirement of their funding.” 

“Like any profession, creative workers deserves a proper wage, decent working conditions and fair treatment.”  

Editors note
  • The trade unions who have contributed to the TUC South West report are: Artists’ Union, BECTU, Equity, Musicians’ Union, NSEAD, National Union of Journalists (NUJ), PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union, Writers’ Union (WGGB).  

The Manifesto is calling for:  

  • A coalition of support for greater investment in the arts across the South West 

  • Support for the 50p for culture campaign seeking increasing local council investment in the arts and heritage 

  • Ensure grant funding provides long-term, sustainable support for the arts  

  • An integrated local government policy framework to support the creative arts as powerful engines for attracting investment, raising aspiration and building stronger, healthier communities 

  • Demanding professional artists, musicians, writers and cultural workers are paid properly and not asked to perform for free 

  • Enabling trade union organisation to set good standards for training, working conditions and fair treatment 

  • Paying at least the Real Living Wage for all those working in the sector 

  • Maintaining freedom to travel and tour for work after Brexit 

  • Campaign for greater recognition and support for arts education at all levels of schools 

  • Every child to have access to free instrumental music lessons 

  • Supporting measures to improve diversity in the artistic world 

  • Advocating the health benefits for engagement in arts and culture and the place for arts professionals in the health and social care system  

  • The Arts Council reports that for every £1 of salary paid by the arts and creative industries, an additional £2.01 is put back into the economy. Engagement statistics also taken from Arts Council report into the South West region. 

  • The launch will be held at Tony Benn House, Unite the Union, Bristol BS1 6AY on Saturday 29th June with keynote speaker Thangham Debbonaire, MP for Bristol East, and Musicians’ Union member.