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A Manifesto for the creative and cultural industries

Report type
Research and reports
Issue date
Key findings

Culture greatly enriches the life of people in the South West, and contributes hugely to our regional economy. As trade unions, 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

Trade unions have a proud record of representing people who work in the creative, cultural and leisure industries. These trade unions can be small but highly specialised and are well tuned to serve the particular interests of their members.

With the support of the TUC South West, the creative trade unions have come together to make the case for their sector and the importance of their members' work for the life of the region. 

The South West has a rich tradition of creativity and economic planners often herald the sector and its importance for the region. Regionally, the South West is home to the second highest employment in this sector, after London and South East. And annual engagement with the arts is consistently above the national average. 

But the sector is fragile and severely under-resourced;  schools and local councils have been forced to sacrifice arts programmes in light of repeated cuts to their funding. Such vocational employment can be immensely satisfying but it is often precarious and poorly paid. 

This cultural manifesto challenges assumptions about the arts sector and proposes a number of ideas that would enhance these vital industries.