The Earl of Clancarty - CB
Share this contribution My Lords, we have a rich and diverse local arts and cultural life within the UK. I refer to the museums, libraries and archaeological services in the title of the debate because when I first tabled it in May last year, none of these areas had been discussed in this House for some time and they form something of an intimate group. But we could also talk about visual arts, film, theatre, music, dance, digital arts and many other areas that also make up the arts aspect of the debate. This cultural life is hugely important to us all as individuals, for the good of society, the development of the arts and the protection of our heritage. It is essential that this broad range of work is protected and developed, but it cannot be overemphasised that since 2010, with the onset of austerity, provision for local arts and culture has been steadily and in some cases drastically eroded, mainly through cuts to local authority arts and cultural funding.
This year, councils will spend £10 billion less than they did in 2010-11. According to the Local Government Association, councils will face a gap of £5.8 billion just to fund statutory services, including social care. Local authority investment in arts and culture has declined by £236 million'overall, 17%'since 2010, and in the period 2010-15, Arts Council funding fell by 36%. The Museums Association reports that between 2010-11 and 2015-16, local authority spending on museums and galleries declined by 31% in real terms and that at least 64 museums have closed since 2010'the majority due to local authority cuts'including many much-loved museums such as the Lancashire textiles museums. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals records that in 2014-15, more than 100 libraries closed in the UK, while in the same year 11% of the libraries in Wales were closed. These are fairly shocking figures.
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