Keir Starmer’s Labour Government: Five Things We Want To See

That could bring positive change to the music and fashion industries...

Overnight the political landscape of the UK has changed. Re-elected in his London seat, Labour leader Keir Starmer promised a “sunlight of hope” after 14 years of Conservative gloom.

A few moments ago the politician accepted King Charles III’s invitation to form a government, and he’ll now attempt to pull the country out of a state similar to what the famous political sceptic George Harrison once termed a “long, cold, lonely winter…”

It’s fair to say that the entire CLASH team remain somewhat dubious as to the immediate, or even medium-term benefits of a Labour government in its current guise. Topics that have dominated office conversation for months – the necessity of an immediate ceasefire by Israeli forces; the recognition of the Palestinian state; the removal of the two-child benefit cap – seem lacking from the present discourse.

Nonetheless, this morning still represents a glimpse of hope and opportunity, no matter how illusive or fleeting. CLASH staff came together to create five key issues across both music and fashion industries that we wish to see tackled immediately.

Constructive aid for young creatives to open out career pathways

As the British Fashion Council celebrates 40 years of London Fashion Week this year, and we enter a (hopefully) new era of British politics, the BFC has highlighted five priorities for the incoming administration to support the British fashion industry and to grow the Fashion Futures initiative.

A key facet is a push for the government to back ‘STEAM’ education, which would include Arts in ‘STEM’ programmes. This plan would encourage younger generations to develop creative skills within proper infrastructure and help secure the future of the industry. This initiative should go hand in hand with support for working-class creatives who aren’t offered the same opportunities and backing to enter creative spaces. Check out the BFC’s full pitch here. (Sabrina Soormally)

Re-invest in Music Education at Schools

UK Music – the collective voice of the UK’s world-leading music industry – reported a decline of 1000 music teachers from our secondary schools since 2012. It’s a damning indictment in an already dwindling creative arts sector and what those in power deem worthy of investment in the hierarchy of our education.

My music teacher was a motivator. He inspired my love of harmonic work, melody, and the communal reach of a healthy musical education. Whether it’s part of the curriculum or an apprenticeship, that student-teacher relationship lays the groundwork and ignites the dream of an edifying career in music. We can’t lose that. (Shahzaib Hussain)

Support for minority musicians and industry professionals beyond London

The stats don’t lie. There’s still a stark disparity in tangible opportunities for both minority musicians and industry professionals working behind the scenes in music. That gulf widens when you venture outside London. Discrimination based on socioeconomic backgrounds manifests in the form of financial deprivation, and poor mental or physical health as a result of a lack of career progression.

Artist development programmes like Future Bubblers, with the support of Arts Council England, are “levelling the geographical playing field,” but there needs to be more targeted assistance – talent incubators, youth-driven hubs, grants and helplines in places with ethnically-diverse demographics. (Shahzaib Hussain)

Introduce a ticket levy to support independent music venues

The colossal success of British exports such as Ed Sheeran mean nothing if the grassroots is allowed to wither and fade. Right now independent music venues are facing a perfect storm – rising energy costs, a consumer base being milked dry by the cost of living, and lack of support. A ticket levy is the first step to changing that, introducing a direct path of financial assistance from the biggest venues in the land to the smallest. Music Venue Trust and Save Our Scene have been called for a levy for some time, and it’s a simple solution to a deep-rooted problem – just £1 from the sale of each ticket could be placed in a fund for smaller independent venues to access.

In the past 18 months more than 150 venues have closed their doors, and the time to act is now. In May, a report from the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport committee recommended the immediate introduction of a levy, alongside a cut in VAT to assist grassroots venue. The time to act is now. (Robin Murray)

Closer integration with the EU to help touring musicians

Although the Brexit vote created complications across multiple industries, its impact visibly impacted British musicians within weeks of the referendum. At first creating confusion around which documents were necessary for continental touring, the settlement has now created a minefield of paperwork and additional costs.

The reintroduction of carnets for goods such as instruments and merchandise creates added costs and additional red tape, while working visa restrictions make prolonged touring difficult. The creation of a proper, fully functioning Music Export Office would create a single point to coalesce around, while further EU integration – a bilateral visa waiver agreement, for example – could help propel touring musicians and DJs forwards. (Robin Murray)

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