Cross-Party MPs: Education Secretary must scrap proposed cuts to arts funding

Liberal Democrat Business spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP, has led a group of 51 MPs and Peers in calling for Gavin Williamson to issue new guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) and reconsider the proposed 50% cuts to the high-cost subject funding of arts subjects.

In a letter sent to the OfS, the Secretary proposed cutting residual funding in half for Higher Education (HE) subjects not amongst the Government’s “strategic priorities” in England.

Courses in music, dance, drama and performing arts, art and design, media studies and archaeology will therefore, under the proposals, suffer a 50% cut to their ‘high-cost subject funding’, which is provided for subjects with higher teaching costs.

Independent campaign group Public Campaign for the Arts, whose efforts Sarah is supporting, has launched a petition calling for the proposal to be scrapped which currently has over 160,000 signatures.

Sarah Olney Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park said: “This is about what kind of message we as a nation are sending about how we value arts subjects. Without this kind of state support, creative skills development will be largely inaccessible to those from working class and otherwise marginalised backgrounds. Not only will we be reinforcing existing, harmful barriers to entry, but the Government will be directly contradicting its own levelling-up agenda.

Sarah Olney MP

“Generating over £111 billion a year, our creative industries are economically vital to our country. But beyond the clear economic imperative, there is a cultural cost to what the Secretary is proposing. England is a world-leader in the arts and that is why we are urging him to reconsider his approach.”

Jack Gamble, Director of Public Campaign for the Arts says: “We are pleased that Sarah Olney and a cross-party group of MPs and peers have joined over 160,000 supporters of the Public Campaign for the Arts to urge a rethink on this damaging proposal. We are proud of the UK’s creativity and want it to be championed, not cut.

“Arts and creative courses are life-enriching, and they also underpin much of our globally successful creative industries, which before the pandemic were growing five times faster than the UK economy as a whole. For these courses to remain viable and widely accessible, they must be properly supported by the Government.”

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