Keep banging the drum

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Optimistic sighs of relief, perhaps, not for any party political reasons but because a little common sense might prevail over Brexit and the cultural industries. Mrs May seems to have been told by the nation that the monochrome view of the world won’t do, and for no sector was that truer than for the arts.

She is going to have to look at everything afresh – we don’t know yet that that means with new ministers and if so which ones – but the free flow of performers and artists is essential. As John Kampfner of the Creative Industries Federation says, that means staying in the single market and the customs union. Without the foreigners that have been such a big part of the UK’s creative boom, the great limb of expression the world comes to this country to enjoy will wither.

I don’t think the nation will wear another referendum, not with the likelihood of a second general election in the year looming, but the new House of Commons is likely to make the government handle the thing with a great deal more care. That means that the arguments that the business secretary Greg Clark appears, according to his industrial strategy, to appreciate will be given time to have their influence on the negotiations, especially if the Brexit timetable is re-scheduled, as surely it must.

Meanwhile, The Independent thinks that a hung Parliament might mean that Corbyn’s bountiful pledge – including a new £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund – could come to pass even though Labour didn’t win. Not yet, anyway.

But the Tories were, just before the election, appearing almost as steadfastly behind the arts if what Matt Hancock, then the culture minister, told The Stage is to be believed. He said the Conservatives wanted to “see the arts flourish and see that success spread across the country”. He promised that a Conservative government would put the creative industries at the core of its economic plans, “whether in domestic policy or in Brexit negotiations”.

No government appointments have yet been made while Mrs May waits for her deal with the DUP to sink in with her party, but the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, is expected to move up the Cabinet pecking order, and Hancock may well remain either in his old job or promoted. In which case, he needs to be taken at his and Clark’s word and be lobbied like mad by the Fed and everyone else on both sides of the box office to ensure the arts, and their £90 billion a year worth to the economy, are high on the agenda in any recalibrated Brexit agenda.


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