Shadow Culture Secretary lays out Labour’s cultural agenda at DRD roundtable

22 Mar 2024

As part of a series of engagements with Labour’s Shadow Frontbench team, DRD Partnership was delighted to host Thangam Debbonaire MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport at a breakfast event held at the London Transport Museum.

Leaders from creative, sporting, and financial sectors gathered at the popular London Transport Museum all eager for an insight into the Labour policy landscape as the party continues its preparations for a General Election.

The Shadow Culture Secretary began by outlining her goal to challenge the culture, media, and sporting sectors to be more proactive on their diversity and inclusion activity – citing the value she gained from her career as a professional cellist. She spoke passionately about the need to widen access to sporting and artistic opportunities. In particular, she expressed her commitment to the continued growth of women’s sport, the stimulation of creative industry growth outside London, and the delivery of a broad, rich, and inclusive arts curriculum, each of which would be at the heart of her portfolio should Labour form the next government.

The Shadow Secretary of State noted the continued exodus of school music teachers, condemning the Government’s continued sidelining of the creative. She declared that Labour is committed to harnessing governmental, private and third sector mechanisms to amplify arts funding in schools and enrich the diversity of the nation’s musical talent. She was especially delighted to hear from a string quartet comprised on Year 12 students from Christ’s Hospital school, the country’s largest charitable provider of educational bursaries.

More generally, she affirmed that Keir Starmer was committed to turning what has traditionally been dubbed as the “department for fun” into an active and influential department with a seat at the table for key policy decisions. She emphasised that inter-departmental collaboration will be critical to achieving Labour’s key policy objectives, exemplifying her ongoing work with Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson MP, in commissioning an expert-led review of curriculum and assessment in schools.

The Shadow Culture Secretary also made clear her intent to protect the intellectual property (“IP”) of creative sector workers. In describing the talents and ideas of workers as the “raw materials” of the creative industry, Thangam committed to defending their interests in government, especially as artificial intelligence (“AI”) becomes increasingly influential in the development of proxy artistic and literary content.

The Labour frontbencher made clear her willingness to consult and collaborate on policy development. She emphasised that the expertise and experience both in the room and in the wider culture, media and sporting sectors would be invaluable to Labour in their efforts to deliver lasting and impactful change.