Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson have joined forces to highlight Labour’s £1bn pledge to invest in the arts after seven years of Tory cuts.
The party leader and his deputy, between whom there have been months of tensions, travelled to Hull to promise the arts and cultural sectors would get “the investment they deserve” under a Labour government.
Watson, a keen rock music fan who serves as shadow culture secretary, is a graduate of Hull University. Today he said he and Corbyn would set up a “cultural capital fund” to support the infrastructure behind the arts, music, film and theatre.
The fund will “protect and invest” in live music venues to help grassroots and professional music, Labour said.
The party also pledged to review the business rates system, extend the £1,000 pub relief to help small music venues hit by rate rises and to guarantee continued free access to museums and art galleries, which was introduced by the Blair government.
“As a former resident I’m proud to see Hull staging world-class cultural events and that it is attracting tourists from around the world who want to visit the UK City of Culture,” Watson said.
“Labour believes that cities like Hull have demonstrated that creativity can drive inward investment, regeneration and tourism as well as being an important expression of local and regional identity.
“Our thriving creative industries define how we are perceived overseas and make a vital contribution to our economy. Under the Tories, the arts and cultural institutions have been forced to absorb huge cuts; under Labour, they will get the investment they deserve.
“Our £1 billion cultural capital fund will give museums, galleries and theatres in all parts of the country access to investment that can be used to upgrade and regenerate their buildings and facilities.”
Corbyn, who included a pledge to invest in the arts in both his successful leadership bids, said: “We want to unleash the potential of every young person not just through education but also through culture. In every one of us there is a poet, a writer, a singer of songs, an artist. But too few of us fulfil our artistic ambition.”