One of the most ways this Government will have radically changed England by 2020 is devolution for city and county regions. Prepare for rocket boosters under this policy to fire up from this Friday when Osborne's deadline for councils to submit proposals passes - rumour has it the North East, West Yorkshire, Notts/Derby and Merseyside - if not more places - are in line for the kind of powers devolved to Greater Manchester in exchange for adopting an elected Mayor.
These areas will control all NHS spending in their areas and policing too. Yet one area of policy that hasn't ben discussed is the arts. Probably because local authorities already do quite a bit of arts and culture spending yet if these new areas are to assume any kind of cultural identity and if we are to seriously address the disparity in arts funding across our country then we need to look seriously at an idea first floated by Liam Byrne...
We should create new Arts Councils for each City and County Region. I.e. Just as we have an Arts Council for Wales and for Scotland we should have Arts Council Manchester; Arts Council Cornwall etc. The difference would be that Arts Council England could be maintained to fund major national projects, support touring of productions and national educational schemes too but these new regional arts councils could allow each area to shape their own cultural output.
Much of the focus on local devolution has been on encouraging growth through local innovation. Our creative sectors are huge exporting success stories, this model would put the developing the creative industries at the heart of plans to rebalance the economy so that the growth is more evenly spread across the nation.
So for the sake of fairness in funding, for developing local cultural identities and for supporting the development of the creative industries in all parts of England Labour should push the idea of Arts Councils for each of the new City and County Regions.