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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, was the noble Lord intending to play "When the Saints go Marching out"?

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, certainly that was one of the tunes that I had in mind. However, I shall watch the funding situation and consider whether in the future I shall achieve more publicity for jazz by playing a chorus or two of "Nobody Loves you when you're Down and Out" or "Nice Work if you can get it".

8.23 p.m.

Baroness Rendell of Babergh: My Lords, I too begin by congratulating my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall on instituting this useful and interesting debate and on her excellent and accomplished opening. It is commonly held that it is impossible to teach anyone to become a writer, but it is, surely, impossible to teach anyone to become a professional in the arts if talent, or at least inclination, is not there in the first place. As one who has taught a writing course and who receives letters almost daily from aspiring writers, I am aware just how present is that inclination in a large number of people.

Various creative writing MA courses are on offer. That of the University of East Anglia is the best-known and has been the training ground for writers who include Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwen. The course is now led by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion. In his lecture to the Royal Society of Arts on 9th March of this year, he made a plea for funding. Creative writing MA students are at present ineligible for funding. He has asked the Department for Education to look at the situation and has called this lack of support unfair.

Government funding for the arts will be higher this year than it has been at any time for nine years. Under the Arts for Everyone and Arts for Everyone Express pilot schemes, literature made a number of successful applications to the National Lottery, totalling £3 million out of an overall £49 million. For all that, sadly, there is still insufficient support for literature and writers. Perhaps I may quote at greater length from Andrew Motion's lecture:


He went on to say that we should remember too that literature underpins all the art forms. Think of theatre without playwrights, opera without librettists and television, radio and film without scriptwriters. He said:

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    "English National Opera recently premiered Anthony Turnage's opera 'The Silver Tassie', a poem by Robert Burns, a play by Sean O'Casey; and now a libretto by Amanda Holden. At every turn the writer".

It is not that nobody cares about literature but simply that literature is cheap and is the poor relation in the family of the arts. Is it too much to hope that in future things will change and that literature's contribution to all the arts will be recognised and rewarded?

The Poetry Society is a national organisation which offers training through poetry workshops and an initiative called Poetry Places which funds poets to work in supermarkets, zoos and health centres, among other places. Its aim is neither to discover new poets nor to trivialise poetry but to bring it into people's lives and to show them that it is for the many, not the privileged few.

Probably the best example of training for writers in this country is the Arvon Foundation. Arvon is a regularly funded client of the Arts Council and attracts about 1,000 students annually to its weekly residential courses, which are of two kinds: open courses that are available to all on a first-come-first-served basis and closed courses which are dedicated to students, teachers and special interest groups. The total number of courses is 72, of which 20 are closed courses, and each is run by two professional authors. In 2000-01 Arvon will receive from the Arts Council £123,600, rising to £127,300 in 2001-02. Although widely recognised as the leading training ground for emergent writers, Arvon places equal emphasis on its drive to encourage good reading. As the Literature Director of the Arts Council put it,


    "Not everyone will leave an Arvon course a professional writer but it would be highly unusual not to leave as a better reader".

This brings me to those innumerable writers who are not, and never will be, professionals. Art as a hobby for the writer is probably only equalled by art as a hobby for the painter. Samuel Johnson gave the opinion, which would be shared by few, that,


    "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money".

As one who has been a professional writer for nearly 40 years, I would not advise anyone to enter writing with the aim of making money. Few succeed in living by writing. Nor should fame be,


    "the spur that the clear spirit doth raise",

but, rather, a burning desire to write. Amateurs derive enormous pleasure from the act of trying to write and the stretching of their imagination. This is even more true of those who have regularly attended writing courses and learnt something of the craft which will provide them with endless intellectual stimulus.

We should not take that narrow view of art and literature--or anything else--which holds that only those who can earn their livelihood from them should be eligible for access to them. Writing is the least costly of all the arts to practise, the necessary materials being basically only sheets of paper and a pen, or at any rate a word processor. The pleasure and entertainment that it brings to those who strive to achieve writing success,

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if only the kind that is satisfying to themselves, is immeasurable and should be encouraged in every possible way, including the financial.

8.29 p.m.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, first, I am grateful to my noble friend and mentor Lady Rendell for extracting me from the Bishops Bench so that I may speak. I am grateful too to my noble friend Lady McIntosh for introducing the debate and for speaking so eloquently and passionately. I do not speak as a producer of art, a professional performer, or even an outreach performer, but as an avid consumer of arts of many kinds. I shall focus my remarks on a limited sphere; namely, the importance of the arts in education for young people. In particular I shall discuss the arts in the new national curriculum framework for schools and give examples from outreach programmes for young people.

The arts are keenly embraced by young people from an early age if they are given an opportunity to explore them. The arts open the minds and imaginations of young people of all abilities. Some form of the arts can be accessible to children who may reject other aspects of schooling. I remember teaching children in an inner city school whose lives and behaviour could have been desperate had it not been for a particular talent in, for example, dance or music.

Performing in the arts trains qualities essential in general education and for life--qualities such as self-discipline and team work. Performing in an aspect of the arts can raise self-esteem and confidence. Our National Youth Theatre, opera and orchestras are inspiring examples of young people's enthusiasm and commitment. Importantly, involvement in the arts while very young not only cultivates performance talent but creates an audience base for the future, as my noble friend Lady McIntosh said. While some people may not be talented in the arts, they can be encouraged to enjoy the arts and to come to them with discernment.

I want to consider, first, how the new national curriculum framework for primary and secondary schools will contribute to education in the arts. I am not here discussing specialist schools for the arts, of which there is a growing number, but generalist maintained schools.

At key stages 1 and 2, the primary school age range, it is stated that children should have an entitlement to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes in subjects including the arts, and be expected to reach certain standards. The first enthusiasm and critical faculties are developed at a young age.

I can give only one or two examples here lifted from the curriculum frameworks for young children. In English, children are expected to learn to appreciate how speech varies, to organise what is said and take account of the needs of the listeners, to sustain concentration, to ask questions to clarify their understanding, and, in group discussion, to give reasons for their opinions and actions. In drama, they are expected to use language and actions to explore

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and convey situations, characters and emotions and to comment constructively on a drama they have watched or taken part in. In art and design they are expected to investigate a range of materials and processes, review their work and learn about visual and tactile elements, including colour, pattern and texture, line and tone, and form and space. In music, they are expected to create musical patterns, explore, choose and organise sounds, use voices expressively by singing songs and speaking chants and rhymes, rehearse and perform with others, listen with concentration and learn about pitch, tempo, texture and silence.

As I said, that is for the youngest children. The kind of arts education promoted here is far removed from some of the ideas around when I was young, when I remember tracing shapes, and tunelessly and monotonously singing, "The British Grenadiers". I do still remember it--and perhaps we can have the chorus at the end of the debate with trumpet accompaniment!

The curriculum develops in a spiral way, encouraging more complexity and depth in performance or appreciation of the arts as the child matures. I am also aware that, outside the statutory curriculum, many enthusiastic teachers are running writing and reading clubs, producing school plays, dance events, and so on.

I am a governor in a school which has an intake from many different cultures. The schools capitalises on that and exposes children to literature, art, dance and drama from around the world. A recent Gulbenkian report, Latent Talent, reminds us that children living in limited social and economic conditions should have access to the arts. This access may come from outside the school, from organisations which encourage creative performance and critical thinking.

One such organisation--I am aware that there are many--is Opera North, based in Leeds, which runs an energetic community outreach programme. It works with students in primary and secondary schools and in further and higher education, with special needs schools and with deaf students. It carries out in-service training for teachers. Every year in the north of England it carries out around 30 projects aimed to increase access to existing opera and to devise new work. For example, in 1999 a new opera involving 90 students was performed on the stage of the Leeds Grand Theatre. The students, with help from Opera North, wrote the music and text and rehearsed and performed the piece over a five-week period.

Another exciting example was when 30 young people aged between 12 and 15--some deaf, some hearing, and of mixed ability--worked with singers to understand and explore the opera "Carmen". All then attended a sign-interpreted performance. The comments from young people attending the special projects are proof of success. Two students aged 14 from Bradford said, "You changed our perspective of opera, which was one of total boredom, into elements of compassion and commitment".

The Opera North Community and Education report for last year states:

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    "Providing access to opera goes beyond offering cheaper ticket prices for young people; it includes the demystification of the art form itself, and full participation in the creation of meaning. [We] strive to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to engage with opera in a real and significant way".

It seems to me that keys to access and education in the arts are about involving people as young as possible in ways to which they can relate and cultivating enthusiasm, making the arts exciting.

I should like the Minister to comment, first, on how progress in arts education in schools will be maintained and monitored, if that is within his brief. Secondly, what support are the Government giving to educational programmes developed by theatres, in particular in the regions outside London?

8.36 p.m.

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, on introducing this important subject. I agree with every word of her excellent speech and will probably largely echo it.

The case for promoting access to, and education and training in, the arts should be overwhelmingly obvious. But it is rather like being in favour of world peace. It should be a "given"; but reality is often far different. In education, in the world of work, among minorities of all kinds, and in deprived areas of this country, the arts are seen at best as peripheral and of secondary importance, or as an optional extra. There is often a perceived division between various traditions in the arts--classical, modern, traditional, popular and others--and those splits are often reflected and echoed in generational and social class divisions.

To take an obvious example, the perception of opera as elitist, inaccessible, expensive and an irrelevance is familiar to us all. My husband is chairman of the Scottish Arts Council. He took recently a young man, devoted to SKA music and at home in some very peculiar low dives, to his first Wagner opera. It was a great performance of "Parsifal" by Scottish Opera. The young man emerged saying that it was one of the best things he had ever been to.

Access, education and training in the arts in vastly greater amounts are not only desirable but essential if those perceptions are to be broken down. They are not only desirable but essential for the health and welfare of our society. I use three examples to argue an apparently overwhelming case referring to areas where the arts are particularly important but often inaccessible: to the disabled, the disadvantaged and those in remote communities.

First, I want to talk about my school. It is a specialist school in Scotland catering for educationally fragile children. Those children are classic under-achievers, drowning in mainstream education, who have the lowest possible perception of themselves. In my school, the arts are central to the school's ethos. Being good at music, drama, dance or art is irrelevant. The arts are a means of finding a voice; of expressing yourself and feeling good about yourself.

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I should like to tell your Lordships about Elizabeth. After her father had been killed by the "shining path" terrorists, she was brought to Scotland from Peru by a friend of his. She was a virtual mute and very shy. We discovered that she loved dressing up. In fact, it was on the stage that she found her voice.

The first Christmas at my school we performed a nativity play and Elizabeth was the Archangel Gabriel. Towards the end, I stood beside her adoptive father who was a tough explorer and adventurer. I heard him say almost to himself, "This is wonderful". I saw tears pouring down his cheeks. That first nativity play brought all the children together as a team and helped Elizabeth to find her voice and to express herself as never before. It reached us all, including her tough father. That was achieved through drama. None of the children would have been on any kind of stage elsewhere. Suddenly they were stars shining for the benefit of us all.

My second example is very different, but it relates to another school. Dog Kennel Hill school in south London used to be a famous under-achieving, tough school. The vast majority of pupils received free dinners; above the average number had English as a second language; and bullying was rife. The police were a familiar presence at the school. The new headmistress, recognising the potential of music for her children, developed music and drama. She introduced it as a core element of her curriculum and in so doing turned her school around. The approach was totally inclusive; it was not just for those who were good at music and drama, but for everyone.

When I visited that large school during an assembly, the children sat in neat rows while six performances from different groups took place. The audience was rapt; you could have heard a pin drop. The child sitting next to me--he was quite a big boy--was almost in tears. He was clearly unhappy. I asked a member of the staff what was the matter with him. She said, "Well, the trouble is that he has been impossible all week and so we had to tell him that he couldn't perform today". That was the greatest and worst sanction that could be applied.

I was later introduced to an Arab boy called Iliass who, I was told, had special educational needs. He spoke three languages: Arabic, English and Shakespeare. Shakespeare was his first language because he had taken part in a production of "The Merchant of Venice" at the Globe. That was a wonderful experience for him.

However, that is not the end of the story because that clearly under-achieving school recently completed another Ofsted inspection. The results were glowing and it was stated that,


    "overall standards were above the national average".

Not surprisingly, while other schools are dropping the arts in favour of concentrating on tests, this school has held on to the arts as one of its priorities--and it is shining.

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Finally, I shall give a different example from my home country of Scotland. It is a story of the Feisean movement. "Feis" in Gaelic means festival and the movement has taken off with a vengeance. It was started by a priest on the island of Barra. He was worried that his community was dying and that the young people were leaving. The Feisean movement is targeted at young people in the area who are brought together for three or four days at a time and taught traditional music, dance and storytelling by established dancers, musicians, singers and the like. That culminates in public performances. The movement has now spread to urban areas such as Bishopriggs.

That initiative illustrates how the arts can bring together communities and generations, resorting a sense of identity, self-worth and shared pride. Fragile communities, such as those West Highlands communities, have been regenerated through such artistic experiences. What could be more important than that sense of empowerment through the arts? And because it is through traditional art forms, there is a very clear sense of holding hands with our cultural past while also developing our present and future traditions.

Some research on the outcomes of the Feisean movement were recently conducted and are most interesting. Seventy-eight per cent of the respondents reported that they had developed more self-confidence; 79 per cent discovered new skills in their daily lives; 93 per cent felt more creative and able to take more risks in their lives; and 96 per cent had made more friends.

For a sense of self-worth, confidence and pleasure, the arts are vital. They can inform every aspect of our lives and should never be regarded as something apart. As a society, as a nation, and as individuals, we express ourselves most potently and creatively through the arts--and we ignore or marginalise them at our peril.

8.45 p.m.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady McIntosh for introducing this important and entertaining debate. I also thank her for the great expertise which she brought to it in her opening remarks.

There can be no doubt that the access of young people to the performing arts and to cultural life more widely enables them to reinforce talents, skills and enthusiasms which can result in them becoming tomorrow's communicators, achievers, entrepreneurs and innovators. As a former youth theatre leader, I do not need convincing of the towering benefits of investing in access to the arts for young people. I know that my students went on to become the most communicative milkman, nursery nurse, market gardener and council worker in their town.

The skills required for tomorrow's world are, as many colleagues have said, human resource and communication skills. They will rely heavily on the creativity which training in the performing arts can bring. The benefits of the arts to the business world, as

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my noble friend said, have long been recognised because the arts enable perceptions to be challenged and minds to be opened. An arts-based approach can free up corporate thinking to recognise the untapped skills and talents of people in the workplace. An arts-based approach can help explore how businesses can develop their leadership skills and address their management of change within companies. It can also provide an entertaining and inspiring experience as a catalyst for action and implementation.

In order to prosper as a country, we need highly motivated people who are unafraid to look at alternative approaches to organisational and leadership development in business. That can be achieved through training in the performing arts. The security of arts in formal education has never been more important, as the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, so eloquently said, in order to raise standards of cultural education and training in its own right and to highlight the role that the practice, enjoyment and study of cultural subjects can bring and make to raising the standards of academic achievement.

It is vital that we have high levels of cultural activity in school, starting with well-resourced pre-school children's play and moving through primary and secondary education in support of improved educational standards. It is equally important that we give young people who are to work in the theatre, creative, cultural and leisure industries--and we must remember that the creative industry is a major growth area in our economic life--the necessary skills. Organisations such as Metier do excellent work in this particular area, and I am proud to be a patron of Metier.

We must also make sure that culture fulfils its huge potential for contributing to social inclusion and the well-being of the wider community. DCMS has established a new education unit to articulate the aims and champion the contribution of cultural education and training. Its establishment has led to new initiatives, such as the £180 million of new money to preserve and extend music in schools, the £70 million from the New Opportunities Fund for the public library IT network, and the £180 million from the New Opportunities Fund for out-of-school hours activity and childcare.

We need to ensure that the work of DCMS with DfEE on the revision of the national curriculum from September 2000 leads to arts education being placed firmly at the heart of our education system for the future. These initiatives are to be welcomed and must be given as much cross-party political support as possible if the benefits of the performing arts and cultural activity generally are to be rooted in our educational system.

Recently the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport established regional cultural consortia in each of the English regions. The aims of the consortia are to bring together the cultural and creative industries in each of those regions, including tourism, sport and lottery providers, to forge links across the spectrum of cultural and creative industries and to

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create a common view and a common vision expressed in the delivery of a cultural strategy for each of the eight English regions by the end of this year.

Tomorrow I shall be the opening speaker at a West Midlands conference--the first of its kind--which will bring together lottery distributors as a forum and will focus on community building strategy. It will be partnership in action to open up access. As chair of the West Midlands Regional Cultural Consortium, I see one of the most important aspects of this new regional activity as being the opening up of access to the arts for those who have previously been excluded from them. We know that participation in the arts has a beneficial social impact. The arts can contribute to neighbourhood renewal, build confidence and encourage stronger community groups.

In the past, those benefits have often been overlooked both by arts providers and by those involved in area regeneration programmes. That cannot continue. In their guidance to those charged with regional cultural strategy, the Government made it clear that, while not every artist should be a social worker by another name, or that artistic excellence should take second place to community regeneration, they want the benefits of the arts to be widely spread and the pool of talent available to be as wide as possible. I express our thanks again to my noble friend Lady McIntosh for giving us all an opportunity to speak out for the soaring benefits of the arts to human achievement.

8.53 p.m.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, it was the part about "education and training" in my noble friend's Motion that set me thinking about this debate. I am most grateful to her for setting me that task.

My noble friend Lady Rendell suggested that some would consider


    "education and training in the arts"

to be a non sequitur. How can one train people to be creative? Moreover, is it not a waste of money to train thousands of people for professions which perhaps can absorb only hundreds? The higher education statistics tell us that in 1997-98, 25,676 students graduated from United Kingdom higher education institutions in creative art and design. We can be sure that that is far more than the number who actually work as artists, designers, actors, writers or musicians. Is that a waste? My response is a firm "no". It is money and effort well spent. I agree with the many noble Lords who said that skills acquired in the arts are transferable to other aspects of life which benefit greatly from that transfer.

So far as creativity training is concerned, my noble friend Lady Crawley is right. The explosion of courses is a welcome sign that creativity is rewarded and welcomed in British life, especially in business and industry. In his report, All Our Futures, Professor Ken Robinson put it rather well:


    "Many businesses are paying for courses to promote creative abilities, to teach the skills and attitudes that are now essential for economic success but which our education system is not designed to promote".

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People who are trained in the arts enrich our lives in many ways. Perhaps they do so in rather everyday and mundane ways; for example, the John Lewis department stores have always had a high standard of window display. I happen to know that the person in charge of that was a very promising artist who graduated from the Slade. Noble Lords who have communicated with company call centres or telephone sales offices will be impressed by the manner in which they have been addressed. The telephone operators were probably trained by a graduate of one of our leading drama schools who never made it on to the West End stage. Those things improve the quality of our lives. Perhaps even the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, drills teeth in a more gentle and pleasing way thanks to his training as a jazz musician!

Neither do I believe that all the money spent on creativity courses is wasted. Of course, not everyone will be a Laurence Olivier or a David Puttnam; but creativity also means bringing fresh interpretation to familiar concepts, to familiar processes and to ordinary tasks. Creativity detects gaps in our knowledge and tries to fill them. Those incremental steps are responsible for 95 per cent of the improvements to our quality of life. The stroke of genius occurs very rarely.

Of course, many of the people on whom money has been spent will enter the creative industries and benefit our economy, especially now that we are in a digital and knowledge-based economy where there are whole new areas to be explored by people educated and trained in the arts. Again, Professor Robinson put it rather well:


    "The new knowledge-based economies in particular will increasingly depend on these abilities".

Does all this education and training produce excellence? I honestly do not know. As the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, told us, excellence in the arts is very complex. It is based on imagination--one of the least tangible of assets. I believe that we must maintain the kind of environment that supports artistic endeavour and creativity because that is more likely to produce excellence.

The opposite is also true. If we encourage conformity, that is what we shall get. The more we encourage education and training in the arts, the greater the chance of producing excellence. My noble friend Lord Jenkins of Putney--I am sorry that he is not present--wrote a book reflecting on his years as Minister for the Arts, and expressed it rather well:


    "Geniuses do not spring out of nowhere; art reflects the society that begets it".

He is right. Creativity and excellence reflect our society and spring from it. But who knows where to find excellence?

I was interested to note that the BBC--a great patron of the arts and one of our greatest artistic assets, which takes training very seriously--is currently spending £5 million on advertisements looking for new talent. It obviously thinks that new

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talent is out there somewhere. It is necessary to seek out creative people with the gift of excellence. There seem to be no fixed rules for training them.

Another advantage of education and training in the arts is that it promotes artistic literacy. Artistic literacy helps us to recognise creativity and excellence when they are presented to us. We all know about excellence not being recognised during the lifetime of artists. There was a time, many years ago, when the National Gallery rejected work by living artists. There was a time when Cezanne and Gauguin were called frauds; so were Debussy and Strauss. People said that they could not hear a single melody in Wagner or Rimsky-Korsakov. Perhaps they are saying the same sort of thing today of Harrison Birtwhistle and Chris Offili, last year's Turner Prize winner. But what shocks us today is accepted tomorrow. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, reminded us that this is what happened to the "Angel of the North".

Education and training in the arts makes us more able to respond to these challenges, by virtue of our artistic literacy. It also has the big advantage of helping us to bridge the gap between high art and low art. Most high art was low art at some time or another. History teaches us that.

So I think it is important to remember that history is not over; it is happening all the time. We should remember, too, that education and training in the arts is not only about acquiring skills, knowledge and information. It is also about giving students the confidence to challenge what they are learning. I suspect that those who make this challenge are the creative people who produce excellence and make history.

9.1 p.m.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws: My Lords, I chair the British Council, which has the role of promoting Britain abroad. In recent years, we have been conducting research into perceptions of Britain in other countries. One of the resounding success stories for our nation is that we are seen as being pre-eminent in the arts. Some of our finest ambassadors for Britain are our artists, our actors, our musicians, our designers--indeed all our arts professionals.

Your Lordships will be familiar with the art exhibitions and the theatrical productions that the British Council tours abroad. What is less well known is that many creative people go from Britain, under the Council's sponsorship, to other countries to work collaboratively with artists there. They go to teach in the field of the arts and to take part in all manner of creative exchange, which greatly strengthens our reputation in those countries.

World-wide we are also recognised for the excellence that we achieve in our schools of music and drama. Many students seek places here in Britain because they want to take advantage of those opportunities. World-wide, Britain is considered, still, an exemplar in arts education and training. There has been phenomenal growth in this area over 25 years.

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I too thank my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall for the opportunity to pay tribute to our artists and arts professionals, and also to our arts educationalists. As my noble friend said, there are many ways in which arts professionals give themselves and their time to schools and colleges to assist and support them in delivering a dynamic, culturally diverse curriculum. What they provide is education through the arts as well as education in the arts. Many of our children, pupils and students are learning about history, politics and governance through the medium of the arts.

This passion and commitment from arts professionals is reciprocated by the schools and colleges. Arts-led projects in schools are frequently born out of complex creative and financial partnerships nowadays. Diverse partners--local theatres with schools, orchestras with schools, indeed even, as we have heard, our opera houses with our schools--can be brought together to ensure that educational institutions are a hub of learning, not just for the pupils and students, but for the community beyond, a community that is increasingly recognising that lifelong learning can be made a tangible reality.

The only warning I would give is that that ecology of complex partnerships is very fragile, and it needs to be nurtured by governments. It is--and I say this with sensitivity to the great pressures on government--the responsibility of government to ensure that the structures, both organisational and financial, are in place to reap the maximum benefit from this passion and commitment of the arts community and education providers.

I know that the Government recognise the importance of the arts, but, as others have said tonight, there are always competing demands for resources, and so often the arts are nudged to the back of the queue. Because of cuts in earlier decades, it has been recognised that local education authorities have more than halved the advisory posts in the arts. Advisory services are under-staffed by two-thirds in arts expertise. Only one quarter of LEAs have a full complement of full-time advisers or inspectors for each of the four main arts subjects--art, music, dance and drama. Less than half of LEAs fund schemes to put artists into schools, and only one-third support theatre in education work. Indeed, infant pupils now spend less than half the time on arts that they did 10 years ago.

So there are many challenges for us. I ask us to examine the way in which the national curriculum is organised and how schools interpret its requirements with regard to the arts and learning. Should we not be looking at the training, employment and expertise of teachers? I, like others who have spoken, also have concern about the funding of schools and the advice and support services and other resources available to them.

Like many in the House, I suspect, I often receive letters from students facing hardship, particularly students in the arts who, if they are from underprivileged families, find it very difficult to

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proceed with training in drama, music or dance. I am concerned too about the funding for our wonderful music and drama schools, some of which face very real pressures.

Extraordinarily innovative and radical work in arts education and training is taking place but the economies in which they operate are fragile. I chair an arts organisation here in London--the London International Festival of Theatre--and it is a wonderful arts organisation. Anyone who knows it always speaks with great enthusiasm for what it has achieved. It has pioneered an innovative education programme that places arts education initiatives not just in a local context but in a global context. It works in many of the most underprivileged parts of London. At present, it has a project in Hackney called Style of our Lives. It is extremely exciting to see the way in which it brings together children of different school ages--secondary and primary school children. It brings together the parents working around those arts initiatives. It provides an extremely imaginative access to the arts.

We have discovered that such projects not only introduce young people to the arts and improve their creative talents but they also introduce them to arts venues which may have been extremely frightening to them and which they would have said were not for the likes of them before being introduced to them through arts organisations and through their schools. The projects help them with communication skills; increased ability in planning and organising; problem-solving skills, about which we hear employers talk so frequently as being essential to modern employability; improved ability to collect, organise and analyse information; and many other talents.

I recently received a communication from the London Sinfonietta, which again was talking about the great way in which organisations and musical institutions like themselves take a pride in the role that they play for others. But it points out that it is all the other additional skills which come from arts education which are of such assistance to young people.

The arts cannot be an add-on. They are an essential part of our national sustenance. We should be creating an ethos of creativity, not a compartment of creativity within our schools and educational institutions. We talk about a creative Britain but it will continue to be a creative Britain only if we make sure that future generations are given better opportunities in the arts.

9.10 p.m.

Viscount Falkland: My Lords, this has been an unusually distinguished debate. It is the first time that I have spoken in a debate in your Lordships' House when there has been absolute equality between the number of noble Baronesses and noble Lords who have spoken. That is the kind of balance that I like to see in this House.

This debate on the arts was most ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, who is ideally equipped to open a debate of this kind. It is extremely appropriate that there should be so many noble

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Baronesses in it. A speech which I particularly liked was that of the noble Baroness, Lady Massey. She made me wish that not only my children but I myself had had the kind of inspiration and stimulation which she gave us through the benefit of the virtuoso display of language in her speech. I was stimulated in that regard by my mother, so again it is appropriate that there are so many noble Baronesses speaking in the debate. I believe that if we are lucky, most us have our initial interest and exposure to the arts from our mothers. It is unusual for that to be from a father, but it happens from time to time. My father was interested in the arts but only in a rather limited sense.

This debate was originally on the performing arts and I prepared my remarks for a contribution about the performing arts, not least because it is one area about which I know something, or about which I did know something because I spent some years working in a theatrical agency. So I had a good deal to do with young actors and students. My responsibility was for young actors who joined the agency if we were lucky enough to secure them. My employer scoured the drama schools for suitable talent and we then had to compete with other agencies for those talented youngsters. I had no training to do that, apart from an enormous enthusiasm for the performing arts.

All of those competing against me would say the same thing. We noticed immediately at RADA or the Guildhall or LAMDA the people whom we wanted to watch. It struck me--and I still hold the view--that a talent to perform and project yourself is a talent with which you are born. But it is not enough to have that. Many people have that talent and use it in many different ways. To make a living out of that talent is an extremely difficult path to follow. I recall asking a rather technical question in the House about actors' tax anomalies and national insurance stamps. I made a plea that such anomalies should be corrected by government. A couple of days later, out of the blue I received an irate letter from someone who had picked up on the matter on television asking why I was standing up for people who were rich, pampered parasites and so on. There is a mistaken perception--on which the noble Baroness touched--about performing artists. People think only about successful and famous artists. They forget the great deal of work done by those who do not reach such high levels. We cannot all be stars.

The noble Baroness mentioned the need to encourage audiences for tomorrow. That is an important point. I am extremely concerned even about my own children and grandchildren. With all the other distractions such as the Internet, the new technologies and the new game--with which noble Lords may be familiar--called Pokemon, which seems absolutely to transfix children between the ages of six and 10 almost 24 hours per day, how will we get them to begin to read and to appreciate the traditional arts in order that they may be the audiences of tomorrow? It is a difficult and challenging problem.

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I spoke in an education debate on the importance of drama teaching in schools because I had benefited from it, having been a rather recalcitrant student. I was invited by someone enthused by the debate in general--not about my contribution--to a production in a south London school. It was the first production at that school. The play was "Macbeth". It was an ambitious production full of deprived children, mostly from ethnic minority communities. I was most impressed. One would not have said that any particular child would have gone on to greater things as a professional, but the enthusiasm, involvement and imagination were extraordinary to see. That point ties in with the moving speech of my noble friend Lady Linklater who talked about her experience with the little girl.

It has been a fascinating debate. In winding up I should like to mention many of the speeches. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, is not with us. He withdrew earlier because he was not feeling well. I met him at supper, which meant that I was a couple of minutes late for the opening speech of the noble Baroness, for which I apologise. I am happy to tell your Lordships that he had recovered by supper time, but of course by then it was too late. He told me that he wished to pay tribute in his speech to Viscount Esher's contribution to theatre. I wish that he had done so. Of course, had he spoken, we should not have had the balance about which I held forth earlier.

I have always marvelled at the training of drama students in this country. The drama schools have done a most extraordinary job. I used to go to see performances at the drama schools. I wondered at the limited resources available to the students and the schools and at the complexity and thoroughness of the courses. That was more than 30 years ago, I am sorry to say. But the same still applies today. There are now four major drama schools in London. RADA is still--if I may say so, not wishing to upset Mr Mandelson--the Grenadier Guards, as it were, of the drama schools. The others are LAMDA, the Central School of Speech and Drama--which was always a wonderful school--and the Guildhall. The latter two are both attached to universities.

The difficulties students face in gaining admission to those drama schools are extreme. They take only about 2 per cent of applicants to their three-year courses. That is tough. Many children are enthused by acting and, perhaps rather like the daughter of Mrs Worthington, they believe that it is a glamorous career. They soon learn that it is not once they become involved in the training. It is physically gruelling and a strain on the imagination and on one's other resources. Those who succeed and go on to lead a professional life have gone through the mill. That is why we have such excellence in this country. It is admired worldwide. Students come out of that exacting mill and entertain audiences from all over the world in our theatres, on television and on the screen--not so much on the screen, I fear, but that situation may improve, although several of our actors have had success in the English-speaking cinema in the United States.

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The worrying matter that I should like to bring to your Lordships' attention is the question of funding. Funding through discretionary grants was always inadequate. That situation has now improved; there is more money for the drama schools. It used to be administered by the Arts Council of England but it is now being shared with the funding councils for higher and further education.

The standards for drama schools are set by the National Council for Drama Training, which has always been stringent and demanding. That is why so few pupils are selected for and go through the system and why such demands are made of them. At leading drama schools, for example, there must be 34 to 36 hours contact work per week; that is work with teachers.

Many drama courses are available to students at training colleges, which is excellent. However, the admission to such courses is much more generous, with about 45 to 50 per cent of applicants being accepted. Those students are able to apply for grants from the same pot of money to allow them to continue their training as the students at independent schools.

The Higher Education Funding Council has gladly admitted and received the wisdom that the standards set by the council should remain; it is happy to do that. The independent schools are happy to share the pot of money in such a way, provided that the exacting standards are maintained in order to retain the excellence we have always had from our drama schools.

The Further Education Funding Council has not accepted that. It says that it sees no evidence of any qualitative difference between any kind of drama training whatever. I do not think that is right. The admissions percentages are an indication of the difference between those courses and others.

I do not want to see disappointed young people entering into drama courses, admitted too easily and thinking that they can come out and gain employment. It is rather like media studies in universities. Young people are misled because often such studies do not lead to qualifications which allow them to make a living.

I see that I have run out of time. However, that issue needs to be addressed. I do not know whether the Minister will be able to comment on such funding. I believe that what I have said would not in any way mean that any students will be deprived. However, the keeping of high standards is crucial.

9.22 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns : My Lords, I too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for giving us the opportunity to examine why there is a special case for promoting access to the arts and education and training in the arts. There has been general agreement around the House tonight that the answer is simply that the arts make us what we are; that must be right.

The arts and artists play a vital role in society. They not only reflect a society's culture but help to make it. They represent the greater part of what is left behind

15 Mar 2000 : Column 1650

for future generations. They are not an optional extra, as many noble Lords commented tonight. The arts can bring immediate and tangible benefits to our communities, such as reduced crime, a greater sense of purpose, identity and fellowship. Pupils who engage in music or drama perform better across the whole range of academic subjects.

It is no wonder that over the centuries, especially the last one, authoritarian politicians have made a bee line for the arts. They have used the arts to promote social and cultural uniformity. As soon as any government start to talk about using the arts as a vehicle for promoting social inclusion, all of us are then at risk of treating them as therapies, not as disciplines of excellence. One must take the greatest care that the arts are seen as valuable in themselves and not just valuable if they deliver the social order and prosperity we all want. In promoting participation in the arts as something we can all do, we must not forget to promote the arts also as pursuits that only a very few people can do extremely well. That was a point I first mentioned in a debate on a similar subject brought before the House by the Earl of Clancarty.

As the report, Crossing the Line, points out, the arts sector is wide. It encompasses dance, drama, visual arts and crafts, music, literature, combined arts and new media. It involves a medley of partners from cultural venues to schools and communities, the youth service, government bodies, the private sector and the arts funding system, about which a great deal has been said in this debate. Furthermore, cultural venues themselves vary, not only from large to small, but also from touring to building-based. Regional differences of course present further contrasts. My noble friend Lord Colwyn was right to remind the House that the arts encompass jazz as well. I shall always try to remember his admonition to take note of the fourth "R", rhythm. Having danced to his music, I know that he has certainly got it!

Perhaps I may turn first to the question of access. When the Minister answered a Question recently about free admission to museums, he said that access meant a great deal more than just admission. Of course he is right. However, this Government have promoted the issue of free entry in their speeches both before and after the election. Whatever the semantics of the matter, what has happened is that they have led the public to believe that they would introduce free entry to all national galleries. Indeed, their press release of 24th July 1998 referred to universal free entry in 2001. But the closer we nudge towards 2001, the more the Government seem to shy away from fulfilling that commitment and the more the buck is passed to the trustees.

However, as has already been said in this debate, the VAT anomaly bedevils trustees' attempts to offer free entry to all. As the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, has explained, the National Art Collections Fund recommends what appears to be a straightforward and comprehensive solution; namely, that Section 33 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 should be amended. Do the Government accept that recommendation?

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My noble friend Lord Crathorne was right to draw attention to the importance of ensuring that disabled people are able to gain access to the arts. Here I declare an unpaid interest as patron of the Tourism for All Consortium. As my noble friend pointed out, access is not only a matter of easily getting into a building, important though that is. It also concerns layout, signage and so forth. All those elements must be appropriate. Often, it is disabled people themselves who can offer the best advice on these matters.

I should be grateful if the Minister could respond to the following questions. Are disabled people represented on all our regional cultural consortia? How many museums have a disability policy and a disability action plan? Will this become a requirement for applicants for Heritage Lottery Fund funding? Is access for disabled people being built into the new quality standards that are being developed by the Quality, Efficiency and Standards Team, QUEST? Finally, it has been reported in the press that disabled access at the new Royal Opera House is not adequate. Does the Minister have any news of progress on that matter? Because these are questions on matters of detail, I have given the Minister advance notice of them.

When we come to examine education and training in the arts, we must ensure that the needs of both the enthusiast and the professional are considered. Several noble Lords have spoken in detail on that matter in the debate. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, I took note of the briefing from LAMDA. I shall not try to repeat his eloquent argument on their behalf in a timed debate, but would say simply that I endorse the points that he has put forward in support of the need for students of drama to be able to train and know exactly how their funding is arranged so that they have an opportunity to achieve excellence.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, mentioned accreditation in the world of dance. I believe that there is a loophole here whereby students of dance have, in a sense, a government department that takes responsibility for them. However, their teachers and the qualifications they hold are not officially recognised. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing sent me a briefing which pointed out that they believe this puts professionally qualified teachers at a disadvantage. Can the Minister give an undertaking that he will look into this in the near future?

In January this year the Government made a somewhat belated response to the report on creativity in schools published last spring by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education. The announcement of the Artsmark Scheme is welcome; indeed, how could I avoid welcoming it? After all, it puts into effect one of our own policy proposals published in the summer of 1996 in the policy document, Setting the Scene. That set out a comprehensive programme to promote the arts in schools. The NACCCE report makes 59 recommendations in all. How many of those do the Government intend to support and when will they be implemented?

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When we promote access to the arts and educational training in them, we need a flourishing arts sector as a backdrop. I was rather intrigued therefore when I read in a newspaper before Christmas a speech by Gerry Robinson, the chairman of the Arts Council, in which he said,


    "The arts in England are dramatically under-funded. We don't fund them to half the degree we should and in the sharpest cases we need more than double".

Just a month after that I read the report of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which accused the Arts Council of wasting millions of pounds of public money on bungled projects. The report said that the Arts Council seems,


    "all too ready to give more money to ailing projects",

and,


    "reluctant to do the things that could save money by avoiding problems in the first place".

Those statements are not exactly complementary to each other, or indeed to the arts world. Which does the Minister believe to be right? Is it Gerry Robinson, the Public Accounts Committee, or both?

Tonight we have had an important debate to which I am sure we shall return. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, referred to the fact that we came on somewhat later than expected and that we might turn into pumpkins. Perhaps I should give the noble Baroness advance warning that arts subjects can be moved to even later hours. I recall, as I am sure the Minister does without too much fondness of the subject, that at one stage we debated the New Opportunities Fund between two and three in the morning. Let us hope we do not do that again.

I am genuinely grateful to the noble Baroness for introducing this debate. I hope we have the opportunity again to emphasise the fact that we must never sacrifice what this country achieves; that is, excellence in the arts.

9.32 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Hudnall, in her excellent introduction to this debate, quoted the Prime Minister's Romanes Lecture in Oxford last December. I had planned--and shall not abandon my plan--to use that as an introduction to the rather complicated list of comments I should like to make in response to this wide-ranging debate.

The Prime Minister's views have been echoed in all parts of the House over the course of the past couple of hours. He described the fundamental goal of the Government in education as being,


    "an education system combining diversity with excellence".

That is a good way of describing, in particular, the objectives we must have for education in the arts. He said:


    "Once we have achieved excellence in basic skills, we need a proper diversity of opportunities beyond so that the aptitudes and abilities of every individual are developed to the full. Education is for life, not for jobs".

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The Prime Minister quoted a report from a commission in Singapore which described the need to instil qualities such as curiosity, creativity, enterprise, leadership, teamwork and perseverance, developing young people in the moral, social, physical and aesthetic domains, and said that that was our ambition too. My noble friend Lady McIntosh said very much the same thing when she talked of self-confidence.

The Prime Minister referred specifically to music and to the work that David Blunkett has been doing to promote music in our schools. He referred to the opportunities to develop talent in other branches of the arts and expressed warm appreciation of the work for the arts that is being, and can be, done in our schools.

My noble friend was very generous in her speech with her description of the work being done by the Royal Opera House and by Glyndebourne. Indeed, the children's production of "Zoe" has been visited by the Minister for the Arts, who was very impressed by it. My noble friend Lady Massey described the outreach work of Opera North, and the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, described work being done with schools in partnership with arts professionals in other parts of the country.

However, my noble friend is too modest. She did not describe the excellent access and education work that is carried out by the Royal National Theatre, which has taken on board the need to promote the widest possible access through its programming. It ensures that it has a mixture of programming that appeals to a variety of different audiences, while always maintaining high quality. It is not just about shows aimed primarily at children, such as "Peter Pan" or "Honk! The Ugly Duckling"; it is also about access for children to shows for adults. I believe that we should pay tribute to that.

If we look at the outreach work of arts organisations that are funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the funding agreements we have made with them will, in the course of the next year, be providing an additional 200,000 education sessions. That is evidence of the importance that we attach to the educational role of our leading arts organisations.

I have been briefed to talk about the creative industries as vital to our economic and social life. Of course, that is true. We should not ignore the fact that our creative industries generate revenues of £60 billion a year. They account for 1.4 million jobs; they make a contribution of over 4 per cent to the domestic economy; and they are growing at twice the national average--5 per cent as against 2.5 per cent.

However, the debate has taken the focus the other way round, and I am rather pleased about that. My noble friends Lady McIntosh and Lady Kennedy talked about the excellence and the world-wide reputation of our artists. Indeed, my noble friend Lady Kennedy described them as our ambassadors to the world, which is true. In addition to the economic importance of our creative industries, we should recognise that arts training, which is what we are

15 Mar 2000 : Column 1654

talking about in particular this evening, makes people better at other things, as well as providing them with professional education in the arts.

I believe that there is some misunderstanding about government polices on education generally, as well as on education in the arts. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, seemed to think that there was no longer a place for the arts in the primary curriculum. That is very far from being the case. As the Prime Minister said, we are ensuring with our numeracy and literacy strategies that we achieve excellence in basic skills. But Ofsted says that there is little inspection evidence to support the concern, which I assume the noble Lord was expressing, that literacy and numeracy strategies are undermining standards in the arts.

Similarly, concern has been expressed that the national curriculum could be too prescriptive and could freeze out our arts education. The national curriculum is being made less prescriptive and the contribution of the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, to which the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, referred, is being taken very seriously by the Department for Education and Employment; and, indeed, is being incorporated into the review of the national curriculum. The noble Baroness asked me specific questions about our views on that report. I should tell her that we have published our response, which I suggest she reads because it covers far more than I have time to cover this evening.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, turned from the pressure which he has put on us previously to increase the time devoted to sport in the curriculum to say that the same thing should apply to the arts. We are under heavy pressure from all sides, but I think that a proper balance is being maintained.

A number of very valuable points were made about initial teacher training, notably by my noble friend Lady Massey who has expert knowledge in this area. She vividly described the improved teacher training in the arts compared to that which existed a number of years ago. The Teacher Training Agency is carrying out a root and branch review of the circular of requirements for courses. It is consulting extensively with teachers, trainers, colleges, LEAs, subject associations, and arts, music, dance and drama organisations on ways to ensure that the initial teacher training framework gives teachers the resources to teach the arts in schools.

Similarly, there has been some misunderstanding about what is happening in out-of-school activities. The noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, spoke as if the New Opportunities Fund is taking money away from the arts. That is doubly wrong. First, the New Opportunities Fund is additional to the original funds for the original causes and does not take money away from them at all. Secondly, it is actually putting money into, for example, supporting out-of-school-hours learning projects. Many NOF grants include projects involving arts, dance, music and media studies. These are in addition to the lottery grant made by the Arts Council for England for arts purposes. In addition, the standards fund of about £20 million will be available

15 Mar 2000 : Column 1655

to include a study support element. The Government are encouraging creative partnerships between schools and other organisations by providing £2.5 million to fund innovative and inspirational out-of-hours learning projects over a two-year period from April of this year.

I turn back to the issue of partnership between artists and schools. My noble friend Lady Kennedy described that relationship as fragile. The Arts Council and the regional arts boards have published Partnerships for Learning, a guide to evaluating arts education projects, which will help them to learn from the best examples and, I hope, reduce the fragility to which she referred. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Arts Council are preparing a document to help schools to develop an arts policy and to establish partnerships during and out of school hours. I hope that that will reassure my noble friend Lady McIntosh, who referred to that point with an example from the Netherlands.

It should be recognised that there is a new national award for schools called Artsmark which is to be a benchmark of excellence for schools to aim for and a symbol of recognition when they achieve it. My noble friend Lady Massey asked about the monitoring of arts education. Artsmark is being developed by the Government with the Arts Council, the QCA and others, to recognise, promote and disseminate good practice in the arts in schools; to encourage improvements in standards and an expansion of arts education opportunities; to raise the profile of arts education nationally within schools, and arts organisations in communities; and to encourage effective partnership. This is part of our response to the All our Futures report to which I have already referred.

Without wishing to neglect others, perhaps I may turn to the particular points to which attention has been drawn. The first is dance and drama training which was referred to by my noble friend Lady Kennedy and the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, who quite properly paid tribute to our drama schools. The new dance and drama awards, which were announced jointly by the Department for Education and Employment and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in November 1998, provide access for up to 820--at the moment the figure is 830--talented students annually, regardless of their means, to pursue their chosen course of study. That is quite new and is of very great importance.

The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, was worried about FE provision. In November 1999, the DfEE announced an increase in the hardship fund for FE dance and drama students from September of this year; FE student support will rise by 300 per cent, with scholarships of up to £3,000 available. I hope that will reassure my noble friend Lady Kennedy, who spoke about hardship among dance and drama students.

The Government are contributing up to £20 million a year to fund these new arrangements. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, expressed concern about the accreditation of

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dance teacher training. That is very largely provided by the private sector, but in most cases it is accredited by the Council for Dance Education and Training. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority is putting these qualifications into the national qualifications framework.

Perhaps I may again pick out one area of which we are particularly proud. I refer to music education. In June 1999, the Prime Minister officially opened the National Foundation for Youth Music, an independent charity set up by DCMS Ministers and core-funded by £30 million of ACE lottery funds--I invite the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, to recognise that as being a contribution from the lottery to the arts--over a period of three years. Its aim is to improve opportunities for young people to access music-making. It will work in partnership in both formal and informal education in music sectors to attract and distribute funds to provide strategic advice and guidance and will act as the national advocate to raise the profile of the debate on music education. My understanding is that jazz is included in the definition of "music". I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, will know that the Arts Council for England funds jazz to the extent of about £1.5 million a year.

The work of the National Foundation for Youth Music is not the only thing. It is complemented by the improved provision by the Department for Education and Employment for LEA music services through its music standards fund, which is £150 million over three years. The second-round allocation was made in December of last year.

Before I leave particular art forms, perhaps I may turn to my noble friend Lady Rendell, who spoke with great knowledge about creative writing. The Arts Council for England provides £1.5 million a year for literature. My noble friend was concerned about student grants. She referred in particular to the creative writing course at the University of East Anglia. Student grants are available for that course, as for other postgraduate MA courses. I agree that that is not the most generous form of provision, but it is the responsibility of the Higher Education Funding Council and the universities concerned.

We should not leave the education side without talking about lifelong learning, to which my noble friend Lady McIntosh referred. The provisions in the Learning and Skills Bill for a single body and a unified youth support service is very much welcomed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We have some significant economic sectors under our wing in the shape of the creative industries, including the arts, film and broadcasting. We want to see these sectors fully engaged in the new learning and skills councils.

There is also the question of ongoing training in the arts. My noble friend Lady Crawley, as a patron of Metier, talked about that national training organisation which has a remit for the arts and entertainment industries. There is also, of course, Skillset with the same responsibilities for film and television. My noble friend Lady McIntosh also referred to the need for management skills in the arts. I

15 Mar 2000 : Column 1657

would add the need for arts skills in management. Her references to Charles Handy and Ben Zander were appropriate in that context.

A number of noble Lords, particularly, of course, noble Lords from the Government Benches, have paid tribute to the increases in government funding of the arts. This applies particularly in respect of access to the arts. Funding agreements place a clear responsibility on arts bodies to deliver a clear return on our investment in that work. The New Audiences Fund, developed by the Arts Council for England, provides grants of about £5 million a year to pilot projects aimed at increasing access to the arts. One of the key aims of the New Audiences Fund is to encourage children to enjoy the arts both in participation and in visits. Both of those are essential elements.

The Gulbenkian Foundation report, Crossing the Line, was important in that respect. It described the psychological barriers which some children have to classical music and classical theatre. However, we have heard some excellent rebuttals of that in the debate this evening, which are welcome. We should pay tribute to the Hamlyn subsidised performances at the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. The Hamlyn Weeks, which my noble friend Lord Hamlyn subsidises, are enormously successful. I wanted to say more about free tickets for schools but I think that that comes under the heading of the Gulbenkian report which we have welcomed. We have an independent scheme managed by the Learning Circuit, New Generation Audiences, which was launched last year by Chris Smith. There are many other relevant examples.

Many noble Lords have quite rightly paid tribute to the contribution which the arts can make to dealing with social exclusion, neighbourhood renewal, health, crime, employment and education. I make it clear to the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, that we do not think that this is delivering social order, any more than we think, like Goebbels, that we should reach for our guns when we hear the word "culture". However, we believe that the arts have a great deal to contribute in what is, after all, a concern of all of us, and that they allow us to invest in individuals who might otherwise be socially excluded.

I have little time in which to deal with disability policy, but I shall answer the specific points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. Not all regional cultural consortia have been appointed yet. We only know of one disabled person on them, but the Government are looking sympathetically at special provision for disabled people who might become members of cultural consortia. Some 29 per cent of museums have a disability policy, but 15 out of 17 DCMS-funded museums have a disability policy. It is not a formal requirement for Heritage Lottery Fund funding, but all applications must conform to the legislation against disability discrimination. Access for disabled people is being built into the quality standards that are being developed by the department because all applications must conform to the DCMS access strategy and must provide for diversity of audiences. Disabled people cannot get into the stalls at

15 Mar 2000 : Column 1658

the Royal Opera House but it has received the "two ticks" award from Margaret Hodge, the Minister for the Disabled, and there are 20 to 24 wheelchair spaces in other parts of the house.

I do not want to go over the well-worn debate about free admission to museums and galleries. The fundamental point is that access is wider than has been recognised. If I may, I shall respond to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Freyberg, on VAT when I respond to his debate on that subject in two weeks' time.

I apologise for exceeding the amount of time allowed, but I wanted to respond to as many as possible of the fascinating and well-informed points that have been made in this excellent debate.

9.54 p.m.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, I have learnt a great deal from the debate. It is late and, like a good play, it needs no epilogue. I thank all noble Lords from all sides of the House who have taken part in the debate. They have contributed enormously to an important, but relatively infrequent, opportunity to vent these issues. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.


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