Creative unions gather at Westminster

By WGGB Chair Gail Renard

If it’s Christmas, then that means it’s time to make friends and influence people at the Performers’ Alliance annual reception at Westminster.

The three unions that comprise the Performers’ Alliance All-Party Parliamentary Group (WGGB, Equity and the Musicians’ Union) talked informally with MPs, Lords and Baronesses and discussed the problems that face the creative industries at this year’s event on 8 December 2015.

Lobbying against arts cuts and for protecting the BBC were high on our lists. The first speaker, Shadow Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Chi Onwurah MP, stressed there must be more opportunity in the arts. Where there’s public finance, there must be diversity, she argued. She also expressed concerns that low or no pay impacts negatively on those who don’t have the financial resources to enter the arts on their own.

Equity’s Lindsey Coulson (aka Carol Jackson in EastEnders) called for more money to be invested by the BBC in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. She also demanded that the BBC deliver fair pay, conditions and dignity to its creative freelancers.

Top of the bill was Ed Vaizey MP, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, who stated that the UK gets more back from the arts than is put in. He said that it was a false economy to cut the arts, and plans to publish a white paper shortly to mark the 50th anniversary of Jennie Lee’s first and only white paper on the arts. Lee, a former Labour arts minister, argued that the arts must be a central part of British everyday life for adults and children. Let’s hope Ed Vaizey’s paper says the same.

All photos above: Joanna Dudderidge