The Future of Arts & Culture Conference

Saturday 14 March, 12pm – 8pm, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1V 8HA – Free Admission (booking essential)

Draft Programme 

A conference aiming to explore the impact on budget cuts on arts & culture and start a inclusive campaign to propose an Alternative Vision for the sector. Organised by SERTUC’s (Southern & Eastern Region TUC) Creative & Leisure Industries Committee and the PCS union in partnership with Equity, BECTU, the Musicians Union, TSSA, UCU, Art not Oil, Reel News, Artists Assembly Against Austerity and the Art Party.

12 noon – Registration starts

Throughout the day, there will be opportunities to use the registration space and the workshop rooms to browse our campaign stalls, view some artwork and network with like-minded arts & culture activists.

1pm start – Plenary session on the “future of arts & culture in the UK”

We believe there is a powerful case against austerity and budget cuts and for public investment in arts & culture. Arts and culture cost just 14p per person per week. For every £1 invested in arts and culture, up to £6 is generated for the economy. 78% of adults attended or participated in the arts in the last year. Creative industries employ 2.5 million people. People who visited a museum are 20% more likely to report good health and 37% more likely to report higher life satisfaction than those who did not. The corporate capitalist model for funding arts & culture is flawed and will cause a further damaging impact on access to culture as a human right and as a public service. We believe there is an alternative – but this requires the cuts to budgets to be stopped and arts and culture to be properly funded.

Chair:             Megan Dobney, SERTUC

Speakers:     Chris Baugh, PCS Assistant General Secretary; Jeremy Deller, artist; Further speaker(s) to be confirmed

 2.30pm – Direct Action

The conference will mark the launch of the campaign to defend arts budgets and make the case for greater investment – using the theme “Show culture some love”. There will be an opportunity to participate in a short piece of direct action which will highlight the campaign and its messages. Watch this space…

3.30pm – Workshops

Workshop 1 – Culture workers: No to Victorian working conditions!

Being paid less than “Living Wage” rates, zero hours contracts, self-employment and exploitation are well-known problems for artists and those who work in museums and cultural institutions. The austerity agenda and the budget cuts they have brought to the sector has made the problem worse. This workshop will discuss the way forward and what unions and arts supporters can do to improve the situation.

Organised by: PCS, BECTU, Equity, Musicians’ Union, Artists. Union England

Workshop 2 – Culture or profit? Is the corporate world taking over the arts?

Increasingly, corporations are sponsoring cultural institutions as a substitute to public funding. Representatives of multinational corporations have secured places as trustees on museums boards. Who are the big cultural investors and what is their impact on the art? How do we ensure public procurement and sponsorship are ethical? This workshop will explore a creative response to the corporatisation of arts & culture.

Organised by: Art not Oil, Campaign against Arms Trade, PCS

Workshop 3 – Is art education becoming a luxury?

Funding for art education in schools and colleges and education programmes in cultural institutions is being slashed. This has reduced the opportunities to learn about and work in the arts – particularly for working class people. How do we reverse this trend and ensure access to culture remains a human right?

Organised by: CLIC (SERTUC Creative & Leisure Industries Committee), Bob & Roberta Smith (the Art Party), UCU, Musicians’ Union   

Workshop 4 – Public ownership, Privatisations & the impact of gentrification on the arts

Privatisation of museums, performance spaces and galleries is becoming a feature of modern culture. We have seen the outsourcing of museums’ functions or regeneration and gentrification of the city. This means private security companies running visitors services and a drastic reduction in the amount of creative space available to young artists. How do we reclaim our cultural spaces?

Organised by: PCS, Artists Assembly against Austerity, Reel News

5pm – Plenary session: what way forward to reclaim arts & Culture?

This concluding session will receive feedback and proposals for future joint work/campaigns from each workshop. We will explore how unions and campaign groups can work together to identify a number of key common principles to develop an Alternative Vision for the arts & culture and campaign.

Chair: Clara Paillard, President of PCS Culture Sector

6-8pm – Radical evening of entertainment & networking

Join us for an evening of radical entertainment and networking – with films, music and poetry to end the conference on a high note.

Compere: Chip Grim

Acts: Janine Booth, Maddy Carty, Tim Wells, Steve White and the Protest Family

8pm – Close of event

To register, please email Jo Williams at


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