HL Deb 06 November 2000 vol 618 cc1305-21

7.40 p.m.

Baroness Rendell of Babergh rose to ask Her Majesty's Government how they consider the arts and entertainment are keeping pace with advances towards a multicultural society in the United Kingdom.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, perhaps I may begin by paraphrasing a line from "As You Like It": Sweet are the uses of diversity". Full participation in the arts by all in our new and richer society who wish to share in them and have the talent to do so should be one of the paramount concerns of multiculturalism.

I prefer not to use the expression "ethnic minority". We are all "ethnic", although I have not noticed the rest of us being referred to as belonging to the "ethnic majority". Instead I shall speak of "black" and "Asian" as terms that are, I believe, preferred by all.

I turn first to that branch of the arts where little fault can be found; that is, to the writing of fiction. Without the contributions of black and Asian writers over the past 30 years, our fiction would be very much the poorer. I am thinking primarily of Salman Rushdie, one of the brightest jewels in our crown. He is the winner of the prize called the Booker of Bookers. Five other black or Asian writers have also won the Booker prize since its inception in 1969. Six out of 30 is far in excess of what would be expected, even taking into account that Commonwealth writers are included. The young black writer, Zadie Smith, is currently the only British citizen whose novel is short-listed for the Guardian prize for a first book.

But not only should the practitioners of creative writing be considered. We have also to look at the content of fiction. Here that percentage is inadequately reflected. Too many novels contain no black or Asian characters, except peripherally. They are often portrayed as poor, socially excluded, or even—in that good old Hollywood tradition of 1930s movies—in a menial capacity.

Certain groups have been traditionally denied a presence in literature and theatre in times past. Notable here is a working class, who appeared in fiction and drama only as servants, criminals or clowns. Jewish people were commonly depicted as moneylenders, pawnbrokers and Fagin-like villains. Since these groups rose to full participation, often taking precedence over those once considered higher up the social scale, black people have come in to fill the gap. Only quite recently have they begun to appear as real members of society, leading lives that do not necessarily involve drug-peddling and downright criminality, or there only as the victims of racism. Even so, contemporary black and Asian experience of work, education, religious faith, friendship and relationships still remains largely unrecorded.

But since art should never be controlled by the state, directives to novelists and playwrights to employ more black and Asian characters and situations would be unacceptable. Encouragement is another thing altogether. Those attending creative writing courses, whether at universities or at weekend seminars, might be encouraged to look at the society in which they live and understand that realistic writing today is incomplete and old-fashioned unless it aims to give a recognisable picture of multi-ethnicity. Such encouragement could well begin in schools where black and Asian children, taught to see themselves as equally British citizens as their white classmates, might also be inspired to see themselves as equally capable of contributing to British art and entertainment. I believe that already in many schools at primary level children do meet minority artists who come to speak to them or engage them in projects aimed at showing them their potential. Nevertheless, of the first £2 billion spent on the arts from the National Lottery, no more than around 0.02 per cent was allocated to organisations representing black and Asian artists.

Black citizens of the United Kingdom, in particular those of Afro-Caribbean descent, understandably cast up their eyes when told in that terrible cliché that, "You people are so wonderful at song and dance". Like most clichés, it holds more than a grain of truth, but the patronising implication is that black Britons are not much good at anything else. That is a curious conclusion to draw when we consider that a recent winner of the Turner prize, Chris Ofili, is black, and that another of our most distinguished writers of fiction and for the stage is Asian, Hanif Kureishi. In the theatre we also have, among many others, the Afro-Caribbean playwright, Mustapha Matura, along with the Asian playwright, Tanika Gupta. At present, a black actor is playing Romeo in London (with the Montague family members also black) and another is appearing as Hamlet. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a performance of "Julius Caesar" at the Young Vic in which the conspirators Trebonius and Cinna were played by black actors.

Darshan Singh Bhuller is the distinguished Asian dancer and choreographer, while the saxophonist and composer, Courtney Pine, is the black musician who has done the most for jazz in Britain to redeem it from becoming museum music. He has also inspired and promoted young black musicians, forming the Abibi Jazz Arts Group to encourage young players at a time when the form, which of course has Afro-American roots, had become the preserve of white players.

Next summer, a black arts festival will be held in London on the South Bank. But only one major arts centre presently exists promoting African, Asian and Caribbean art in the United Kingdom. This is the Birmingham-based The Drum, a modern centre staffed entirely by black and Asian people, providing courses for aspiring artists and holding exhibitions such as, for example, "Millennium—Dawn of a New Age"—a culmination of work by six young African Caribbean artists as well as another on Arts Education and the New Technology. The Drum is based on the site of the former Aston Hippodrome. It houses two auditoria and an exhibition space, as well as a café and shops.

Projects of this kind are needed in other parts of Britain such as London and other major cities—in particular those with large black and Caribbean populations. There is no theatre building in Britain run by a black or Asian director, while theatre staffs and boards are overwhelmingly white. Only 16 out of 463 board members of English Producing Theatres are black—not even approaching 6 per cent, a figure we are told is the percentage of black and Asian people in our population. The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn has eight, Stratford East five and Hampstead two, leaving only one black board member for the rest of the country. Once there were 18 revenue-funded black and Asian theatre companies, but now there are only two. Funding here should be a priority. All but 80 of the more than 2,000 staff with permanent employment in English theatres are white. We look forward to hearing from my noble friend Lord Alli on how television is affected, and from the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, on the subject of film.

Of course it must be remembered that many British people of black and Asian origin favour integration rather than a distinctive place for themselves in the arts. To them the idea of exclusivity, as in the case of The Drum, represents ghettoisation and detracts from, rather than furthers, their aims. Perhaps they are being a little premature. The time will come when British black and Asian people are so established in our society, their presence so comfortably adjusted to both by themselves and the majority, that a black man playing Hamlet will no longer give rise to the comment, "But Hamlet was a Dane". A black Dane will be, if not as common, as appropriate as a white one, because he would be so generally seen and accepted.

But that time is not yet. It will eventually come about by gradual means and these should not be hampered either by apathy or lack of funds. Meanwhile, there is an irrefutable case for the encouragement of black and Asian artists. This can be a two-way process that benefits them by fulfilling their needs, and inhibits racism by the presentation of black people as having gifts in the arts equal to those that we are used to seeing exhibited by white contributors. It cannot be rushed, but nor should it be retarded. Are we getting there fast enough?

7.50 p.m.

Lord Dholakia

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, for introducing the debate. I congratulate her on the way in which the Unstarred Question is worded. The debate is not simply about the arts and entertainment but about their relationship with our multicultural society.

No one disputes that Britain is a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society. Ethnic minorities make a valuable contribution towards the social and cultural life of this country. There is a recognition among the general public of this cultural diversity and of how the arts and entertainment play a significant part in it. London is probably the finest example of where the arts and entertainment react positively with a cosmopolitan capital city. No one can dispute that minorities have excelled in this sphere. However, there are dangers of stereotyping.

Ethnic minorities contribute across the spectrum in various ways. It was a wonderful sight to see our black athletes, draped in Union Jacks, displaying their Olympic medals and singing the National Anthem. That, effectively, showed their identity with this country. The cultures reflected in the arts and entertainment represent the deepest values held by minorities.

But before we get carried away, I should point out that the contribution of minorities is not matched by essential resources. Perhaps I may ask the Minister two or three questions. The complaint that one receives most often from ethnic minorities in this country concerns resources. The noble Baroness was right to mention that of the £2 billion spent on the arts from the National Lottery, no more than 0.02 per cent was allocated to organisations representing black and Asian artists.

The first major report of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, published in 1999, made no reference in its overview to the issues of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in modern Britain. Despite its equal opportunity policy, not a single ethnic minority person has been identified in the top 20 posts in the department.

Finally, at senior decision-making level at Channel 4, ITV and BBC, there are fewer black people now, in the year 2000, than there were 10 years ago. There must be an explanation. I hope that the Minister will provide it.

7.52 p.m.

Lord Alli

My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady Rendell for raising this important question.

In June of this year, I was privileged to give the Greenwich Memorial Lecture in memory of Stephen Lawrence, Rolan Adams and Rohit Duggal. In that speech I made it clear that I believe that we have much work to do if we are to ensure that Britain's black and Asian population is properly represented at the most senior levels in our society. I highlighted, in particular, the senior Civil Service. I still passionately believe that reforms are urgently needed.

But government is not the only place where reform is needed. My industry—television—also has a long way to go before it is truly representative of Britain's ethnic communities in terms of both on-screen talent and those who make up the workforce behind the cameras.

My company—Carlton Television—has a particular responsibility because 70 per cent of Britain's ethnic population live in our franchise areas. It is a young and growing population. While we in the ethnic communities make up 7 per cent of the UK population, it is estimated that we will make up 30 per cent of the population in London by 2001 and 12 per cent in the Midlands. At Carlton we have recognised that we would be failing ourselves and our audience if we did not address the diversity of our own regions. Diversity issues and our economic interests are beginning to coincide.

On 12th October this year we launched the Cultural Diversity Network. At that launch, all of Britain's broadcasters set out their action plans in detail, with specific aims and targets. At Carlton, we set tough targets to change the make-up of our workforce to match the population of our regions. At the BBC, Greg Dyke pledged that he would search for new minority talent. On behalf of ITV, David Liddiment said that it will integrate cultural diversity into the commissioning process for network programming.

An impressive array of senior figures, including Michael Jackson, the chief executive of Channel 4, and David Elstein of Channel 5, have committed themselves to taking action. All of this was co-ordinated by my colleague and friend at Carlton, Clive Jones.

To get this degree of unanimity between organisations which normally fight one another in an increasingly competitive market-place, was a substantial achievement. They all agreed that the time had come to take real action. We can build on that approach. It is a model which could be extended into all areas of the creative industries.

Black voices are beginning to be heard in television, and creative black and Asian artists are gaining recognition. But I do not believe that Britain's ethnic minorities are making headway at senior levels in our museums, our galleries, our libraries, our theatres or the arts boards. The challenge to both local and central government, and to the arts world generally, is to learn from what we are trying to do in television.

Will the Minister consider the ways in which grants are distributed by his department to the arts, libraries, museums and cultural organisations? I believe that in future they should also have a cultural diversity strategy in place so that their management teams and staff reflect the regions in which they work. Will the Minister also consider how best to use funding mechanisms to that end? Finally, will he consider his own department to ensure that it too is trying to change and that it leads by example?

There is no better time for us in the minority communities to make advances, and there is no better group of people in government than my noble friends and my honourable friends in another place to help us. I wish them the best in helping us to do so.

7.56 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield

My Lords, I welcome the debate and I congratulate the noble Baroness on introducing it. My diocese of Wakefield is a multifaith, multicultural diocese in Yorkshire and these issues are pertinent to me in my ministry.

For many centuries, of course, much art and entertainment in this country has been inspired, sponsored or provided by the Christian Churches. The fact that Christian themes remain powerful, at least in terms of our cultural identity, was clear from the success of the "Seeing Salvation" exhibition at the National Gallery.

But the Christian Churches—now, thankfully, becoming more racially aware—are relearning a truth that ought never to have been forgotten: that from the earliest times Christianity itself has been multicultural. Its great theologians—Athanasius, Augustin, Cyprian—all of them, and many others, were black.

A modern example of vibrant multicultural Christian diversity was seen in Wakefield recently at our racial justice service, when a wonderful range of music, art and poetry was contributed by our local Asian and Afro-Caribbean congregations. But—this is the point—those contributions took their natural place alongside the English ingredients. Thus, different cultures, enriching each other, were integrated into an authentic spiritual wholeness without losing their distinctiveness.

My experience of engaging personally with these issues locally in the Wakefield diocese leads me to ask for some assurances from the Government. I ask, first, that in their efforts, which I warmly welcome, to strengthen multicultural opportunities in the arts and entertainment, they will recognise and affirm the importance of the religious dimension in cultural expression; and, secondly, that the Government will do all that they can to prevent minority communities becoming slotted into stereotyped cultural boxes. That is a real danger, especially as we move into a new era of digital broadcasting and dedicated channels. Different cultures need to engage with, and thereby enrich, each other. When that happens—I see it happen often—local community relations are enormously enhanced.

I must mention a highly creative south Asian arts group in West Yorkshire called Kãlã Sãngãn. It wants to establish a community-based centre in disused mills. However, there is a competing bid to convert the mills into an employment call centre. That may bring more employment to the area, but it will not contribute to the cultural and artistic regeneration of the local community in the way in which Kãlã Sãngãn does. Therefore, the last assurance I seek is that the Government recognise the problems of finance and infrastructure in building up arts and entertainment at the important local community level, and that that sometimes has implications for funding priorities in urban regeneration areas, which are, of course, themselves so often multicultural.

8 p.m.

Baroness Crawley

My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, for giving the House the opportunity to discuss the future of cultural diversity in our country. Our culture is, in its broadest remit, who we are, our values, how we interact and socialise with each other, and the communities which we want to belong to and promote.

And who exactly are we, in modern Britain at the end of the 21st century? We are a mixed bunch. As the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, said, we have a capital which is one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, with an artistic life that reflects cultures from every continent. Our regions are bursting with cultural diversity. My own area, the West Midlands, is rich in the sheer range of the cultural life that is on offer—from the excellent production presently being staged (this is an advert) at the Birmingham Rep, "Ramayana", celebrating Diwali; to Sampad, the specialist Indian dance company, which is presently engaging and entertaining Caribbean audiences across the West Midlands; to the activities of The Drum, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, the largest arts centre dedicated to those in the black community, who are excelling in the culture that is on offer; to the famous award-winning youth dancers in the West Midlands who excel in traditional Irish dance.

The creative industries across my region and across Britain are the new growth areas in our economy. For once, it is young Asians and young black people who are beginning to be the mainstream of those new creative industries, leading the new media, leading in design, music and film, and in computer software. I am told that the latest British export to the EU is "funky, electro Asian break-beat", with drum and bass and garage implications! So a great deal of excellent cross-sectional activity is taking place, reflecting our multicultural society.

But is it enough? Of course it is not—not given the level of national spend, as was mentioned earlier. It is not enough while there is racism and bigotry and fear of difference. It is not enough when we cannot satisfy those who are in poverty and who experience social exclusion. It is not enough while the arts are still seen as an élite playground for a small number of people.

However, the Government are taking major steps forward; that must be recognised. I should like to ask my noble friend the Minister what initiatives will be built upon in those major steps. I refer to the regionalisation of lottery spending; bringing local decision-making down to local level; the creation of the regional cultural consortiums—I chair the West Midlands regional cultural consortium; bringing back the priorities of local people to their local areas; the insistence by government that the cultural sectors work in partnership with each other, that heritage and art work together, that sport and museums work together. That is important. The Government are picking up and running with this baton. They have made a start. I am sure that we shall hear from the Government Front Bench that the continuation of that approach is being strengthened.

8.4 p.m.

Lord Haskel

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Rendell and other noble Lords that the multicultural agenda can be powerfully advanced through the arts and entertainment. I congratulate my noble friend on tabling this Unstarred Question.

While cultural diversity has been a policy objective of this Government for some time, we still have a long way to go in finding pragmatic solutions so as to encourage the process through which minority cultures can thrive. It is unclear how decisions are made; which minorities should or should not receive funding and encouragement for arts and entertainment.

A possible model for a way in which non-governmental groups can take a lead in the promotion of minority cultures in the public arena is a policy initiative undertaken by a Jewish think-tank, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. I declare an interest as its deputy chairman.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research, in partnership with a French institution, is currently setting up a European foundation for Jewish culture—a kind of European-Jewish arts council. We decided on Europe because, increasingly, artistic activity is international; it flows across international boundaries. However, I think the formula is right, with or without the European dimension.

The institute's mission will be to foster artistic creativity and achievement and to encourage access to Jewish culture across Europe. This will be pursued primarily by awarding grants to creative artists and researchers who are working in the area of Jewish culture. The foundation will consider arts and entertainment in the broadest sense—not only artists, writers and musicians, but also museum and theatre directors and those working in other cultural entertainment sectors such as radio, television and film, and even the Internet.

Two important principles have been established. First, grants will be made to both Jewish and non-Jewish men and women who wish to comment on the Jewish experience. That is because all artists can directly address the concerns of different cultures. In their own distinctive way, artists and entertainers can and do affect the manner in which minorities see others and how others see them. Secondly, we expect the results of their work to be seen principally al non-Jewish venues. In this way, the results will be available to the widest possible audience and, most importantly, will not ghettoise Jewish arts and entertainment. This is a crucial consideration. This seems to be the right approach, because it has already attracted funding from a number of charitable and other sources.

I believe that this initiative can make a distinctive contribution to British culture, while at the same time strengthening Jewish collective identity in Britain. This is not a shrill demand for recognition. It is empowerment.

8.7 p.m.

Baroness Prashar

My Lords, I was particularly pleased to learn that the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, had tabled this Question on the arts and entertainment in a multicultural society. I thank her most warmly for raising this issue. I have a particular interest in this area, having chaired the Arts Council of England's committee on cultural diversity from 1995 to 1998—years in which the foundation was laid for some far-sighted initiatives in this area.

The committee, with the help of an exceptionally able Arts Council officer, Naseem Khan, realised early on that promoting the arts in a multicultural society is more than a matter of equality of opportunity or of funding, important though both are. The notion of equality of opportunity in the arts tends to preserve the fiction of separate development—and it is a fiction. Increasingly, we are seeing a world in which art forms and artists are interacting and coming to create new, fluid forms of culture that are distinctly British—multiculturalism at its best. I welcome these developments, as I welcome also the nurturing of traditional art forms. Funding limits the argument to simple, quantifiable sectors and takes no account of quality of life and the impact of the arts.

The committee on cultural diversity sought to establish a dual principle. On the one hand, the so-called established "mainstream" needs to open its doors. It is unacceptable that the upper management of virtually all our major cultural institutions—absorbing large sums of public money—are worse than the commercial world at diversifying their staff at levels of management and influence. We cannot say that we have a multicultural society, surely, until people from minority backgrounds can find jobs in all areas of the arts: as managers of orchestras, directors of arts centres, theatre directors, gallery administrators, and not simply in what I call "ethnic slots". In this respect we are not keeping pace with advances towards a truly multicultural society.

Secondly, we understand the enormous need of the black, Asian and Chinese arts sectors to have access to skills enhancement, mentoring and networking facilities, as well as a fair share of the cake in terms of national and regional funding. I am pleased to say that our advice was heeded. The Arts Council has committed itself to a major initiative, Diversity 2002, through which it intends to achieve a "step change" for cultural diversity, recognising the historic imbalances that have held back its vibrancy.

So we can say that we have made progress. However, I am troubled to read that a mere £500,000 has been allocated to this initiative by the Arts Council. It is a pity that this enormously important initiative is not properly funded. The Year of the Artist, which I strongly support, has been allocated £3.5 million, with £35,000 to each region. We live in a society in which diversity is adding enormously to the sense of national energy and a national profile that impresses many in the rest of Europe. The Government should be putting their full weight behind initiatives such as Diversity 2002—this is an opportunity to level the playing field—so that audiences of our major producing houses mirror the population more closely, the workforce diversifies and the arts themselves break loose from the old shackles. This rare and welcome opportunity, which has been built on sound thinking, should not be lost.

8.11 p.m.

Baroness Howells of St Davids

My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lady Rendell of Babergh for bringing this debate to the attention of the House. When my children were growing up, I used to spend wet Sunday afternoons taking them to museums. It suddenly dawned on me that there was no museum in the capital where they could see works of art by black artists—people who reflected them. I also realised that tourists were coming into the capital and that they, too, could see no such work. It angered me. So, with £600 from the GLC, I decided to launch an exhibition in Covent Garden called, "The Alternative Tate".

The exhibition ran for one week. I was told that, at the opening, 13 members of the board of the Tate at that time had attended the exhibition. To their credit, I have to tell noble Lords that, from then on, they did in fact show paintings in the Tate by black and ethnic minority artists. They continued to send me letters telling me that they were doing so. I was very grateful.

Today, however, I wish to confine my contribution to terrestrial television. This is the mode through which minority groups, like the rest of society, access entertainment, the arts, news and other information. So television is a good yardstick with which to measure how far arts and entertainment keep pace with the diversity within the United Kingdom.

Ethnic minorities are currently believed to constitute 7 per cent of the UK population. In London, it is estimated that ethnic minorities will make up 30 per cent of the population by the year 2001, and the figure for the Midlands will be about 12 per cent. An estimated 80 per cent of ethnic minorities are aged between 16 and 35, with a huge disposable wealth contributing £32 billion to the economy. We now have evidence to suggest that those of Afro-Caribbean and Asian decent are deserting terrestrial television in record numbers. Clive Jones, the Chief Executive of Carlton, has said: With the fastest growing section of the audience switching off from terrestrial television broadcasters must adapt or risk becoming increasingly irrelevant". Before discussing the work of Britain's leading broadcasters to improve the representation of people from ethnic minorities in television, I should like to pay a special tribute to the Commission for Racial Equality for its support for the Race in the Media Awards. That applies especially to Richard Jarman, the Head of Public Affairs, at the CRE, who said: A society that is truly at ease with itself and ready to take the benefits of its diversity requires a media that is able to address and reflect that diversity freely and confidently". It is in that spirit that I also pay tribute to Manifesto 2000, produced by the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN), which received the support of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on 12th October of this year. I am sorry, I did not realise that I was running out of time. I shall conclude by saying that Manifesto 2000 has set up the same "old hat" ways of increasing minority participation in the arts. Perhaps I have lived for too long, but it just has a touch of déjà vu about it. I should like to suggest to my noble friend the Minister that he looks most carefully at set-asides for the various minority groups in terms of finance, so that they can grow within their own communities and then contribute to the rest.

8.16 p.m.

Baroness Uddin

My Lords, this evening I am wearing my culture and my art on my sleeves, as noble Lords can see from the opulent colours of my clothing. In the absence of proper government strategy, many of the communities have to do so. I just thought that I should demonstrate it in this way, but that is not to say that I do not do so every day.

The cultural fabric of a multifaith, multicultural and multiethnic country like Britain should always, like the human heart, be in motion. A static cultural life is lethal for the life of any nation. The report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, points out that we should start with questions that Her Majesty's Government need to answer when making cultural policy. For example: who should or should not receive funding for artistic and recreational activities and projects? Whose experiences, perceptions and stories should be included, how should they be included, and how should they be included in the narratives and images that appear or television and in the press? Who should have opportunities to develop skills in various competitive sports, and to represent their neighbourhood, town or country?

I could go on with those questions; for example, who should, or should not, be represented in the collections of art galleries and museums, the repertoires of theatre companies, and the programmes of local arts centres? The decisions on such questions are taken by a wide range of governmental and private bodies at national, regional and local levels. I do believe that they are representative. They inherently reflect and perpetuate views of the past—embodied in such terms as "heritage", "canon" and "mainstream"—at the same time as they fashion the present and lay the foundations for the future. Funding and resourcing policies should consciously address issues of cultural recognition, inclusion, identity and belonging and, therefore, question many customary criteria of quality and aesthetic value.

Nothing threatens the civility of a society more than ignorance. Arts and entertainment are weapons that, held in the right hands and used with the right attitude, can destroy the beast of benightedness. As a mother, I crave a healthy cultural context for my children—a context that would not only appreciate and respect their Bengali/Bangladeshi/Muslim cultural heritage, but one which would also enable them to share it with their friends and neighbours. Unfortunately, that remains a frustrated dream because we have not had the courage to work towards and create such a context. For example, investment into Islamic arts and entertainment has been abysmal. The result has been to deny our children and our whole society the civilising effect of this rich cultural and spiritual heritage.

I shall not comment on the question of funding because that has already been addressed. However, we do not need only to re-think new approaches of inclusiveness; we also need to rethink methods of funding. This greater inclusiveness now needs to be extended to embrace Britain's diverse communities and the lifestyles, experiences, identities and creative work of its newer citizens.

It only remains for me to tell noble Lords that I visited Portcullis House today as part of the celebrations for Islamic Awareness Week. It would be a good starting point if the Minister were to consider displaying examples of calligraphy and Islamic art, among others, to give a clear signal that we are committed to multicultural and multifaith art and entertainment.

8.20 p.m.

Viscount Falkland

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, for introducing this interesting topic. I am sorry to disappoint the noble Baroness who said that I would speak on the problems of ethnic minorities with regard to film. However, that is a rather complicated subject in view of the limited time which is allocated to our speeches. Suffice it to say that recently the traditional centres of film-making in the world have spread out to unexpected areas. No longer does Hollywood dominate as it did in the past. More and more countries are now becoming international centres of film-making of great repute.

I hope that noble Lords will attend the cinema more frequently as there is so much interesting international fare on offer. Not much of it is shown in London but at the moment there is available a film of the utmost intelligence, delicacy and skill from Hong Kong which I believe would be the envy of any film maker in America or Great Britain entitled "In the Mood for Love". It is a slender story but is recounted with extraordinary skill in telling a story through pictures, which is what cinema is about. It tempts one to think that with the increasing numbers of Chinese in England we shall witness a great emerging talent in that area and probably among other ethnic minorities too.

The noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, asks whether, the arts and entertainment are keeping pace with … multicultural society in the United Kingdom". Of course, that is not the case although it may be the case in London, Bradford and Bristol. Certainly in London, where the ethnic minorities now comprise 30 per cent of the population—I understand that figure will rise to 50 per cent shortly—there is a great deal of activity, regardless of the fact (this has been pointed out in, I believe, the rather misunderstood Parekh report) that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, by an oversight I am sure, failed to make any direct reference to multicultural activities in London.

London Arts, the regional arts body under the Arts Council of England, does an enormous amount of work in London within a constrained budget to encourage all kinds of artistic expression such as theatre and writing. The amount of lottery money is pitifully small in this regard.

The role of broadcasting in this country is essential to encourage the arts and aid the growth of a genuinely multicultural Britain. I suggest that it is only through broadcasting that one will be able to promote the interesting and innovative works of our ethnic minorities. That is being done to a certain extent but if I understood correctly the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, it needs to be done with much more energy and with much broader scope. I hope that the noble Lord will refer to that when he replies to the debate.

8.24 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, for giving us the opportunity to debate this matter. However, I am sure that we all regret the fact that we are allocated only three minutes in which to speak on such a vital issue.

The importance of diversity has been highlighted by my right honourable friend William Hague on a number of occasions, most recently to the Society of Editors last month. He said: Our nation is a nation of immigrants. Celts, Picts, Saxons, Angles, Normans, Jews, Huguenots, Indians, Pakistanis, Afro-Caribbeans, Bengalis. Chinese and countless others. These are the British people, all of them. It is what makes our country such an exciting and varied place to live. So we are proud of our ethnically diverse culture". My main question for the Government is the following. When they prepared their reply to the Question of the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, what method did they use to measure the extent to which the arts and entertainment have already, and should in the future, keep pace with advances towards a multicultural society? How will they answer that vital question with which the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, ended her speech—are we getting there fast enough?

The important thing surely is for Britain's diverse communities to participate in mainstream arts and entertainment but without losing their own vital identity and culture. Noble Lords have mentioned some examples of good practice. I wholeheartedly congratulate those who have made progress. However, as noble Lords on all sides of the House have pointed out, there is so much more that must be done on race equality issues within the mainstream.

I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, that part of the answer to making better progress must surely be found in our lifelong education and how we learn to perceive the value of diversity. It is vital that our schools address all these issues. I shall be rather parochial tonight and refer to the Bishop David Brown School at Woking where I live. That school is working to achieve designated status as a specialist performing arts college. It promotes positive participation among girls and boys from all cultures in a town where about 10 per cent of the population has a Pakistani background and which also has significant Chinese and Italian communities. All of those populations are vibrant.

I visited the school earlier this year to see the work that it is doing. Drama gives students the opportunity to discuss racism, prejudice and bullying. Work across the whole curriculum gives students the chance to develop self-esteem, motivation and personal achievement. I wish them well. Their success serves our multicultural community well.

Of one thing I am sure; namely, that it is extremely difficult for the Minister to respond to the Question, even with his slightly longer speaking time. On a more serious note, it is vital for all of us as individuals to champion mainstream values that everyone can embrace, such as tolerance, mutual respect and the rich diversity of our country. We would all be the poorer without them.

8.27 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I am delighted to respond to this extremely well informed and passionate debate on a subject which I believe everyone agrees is of enormous importance not just to our arts and entertainment but also to our society as a whole. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, for making it possible.

However, I must start by disagreeing with her slightly. I agree with her that it is unfortunate to talk about "ethnic minorities", and I do not intend to do so. However, she chose to refer instead to "Black or Asian". I suggest that the diversity goes a good deal wider than that. I refer, for example, to Greek and Turkish Cypriot, Irish, Balkan people, Jewish people—to whom the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, referred. Even within the term "Black and Asian", I do not think that it is sufficiently recognised how different a Black African from west or east Africa is from someone from south Asia or China or from the Caribbean.

I take my starting point from the word "diversity". The differences between these different communities and their arts are as great as the difference between them and the older communities who, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, rightly said, have been absorbed into British society over hundreds and probably thousands of years. It is the full variety and richness of our national identity which I want to see reflected in our creative and cultural activities. I want to see that applied all the way through our educational system, through our amateur arts and through the professional arts too. From the point of view of government, my starting point must be that if we are talking about resources and funding we must talk about them in total and then about the division for particular purposes.

In July, we announced the highest-ever levels of public support for the arts in England. Funding for the arts will rise from £238 million in 2000–01 to £338 million in 2003–04. The uplift will go to the Arts Council of England for allocation to its funded organisation, primarily through the English regional arts boards. Among others, the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, made proper reference to that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, repeated the statement which I first read in the report of the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, that only 0.02 per cent of the first £2 billion Arts Council lottery funding went to fund Black and Asian organisations. I do not contest that figure; neither do I defend it. Those were decisions taken before this Government came into existence. At that time, it is fair to say that the first priority was for capital infrastructure work after many years of neglect. I hope that it can be shown—I am not capable of doing so now—that that capital infrastructure expenditure in the first few years of arts lottery funding is open to artists from all ethnic origins.

However, there has been a substantial change in the policies of the Arts Council of England. The new six-year capital lottery programme is allotting at least £20 million to fund Black and Asian organisations covering new developments, theatres and individual projects. This will feed into the new major initiative of Diversity 2002.

A number of noble Lords made effective reference to the underfunding of the arts, in particular Black and Asian arts. I believe that the funding is there. I believe that it will be directed correctly. I listened carefully to what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield said about finance for infrastructure, which is recognised, and the need for proper funding priorities. The noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, spoke of her excellent 'work in the Arts Council. She will know that Naseem Khan to whom she referred is now doing excellent work in collaboration with the Council of Europe.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howells, spoke of her "alternative Tate Gallery" in Covent Garden. The noble Baroness will know that three out of the four Turner short-listed artists in the Tate Gallery are not UK born. So funding clearly is of enormous importance, and I think that we are responding.

I turn now to the entertainment part of the debate and what we call the "creative industries". That is far less industrial than it sounds. We are talking about the opportunities which exist in a multicultural society to encourage young people to be more innovative and creative and to use their skills for creative and cultural industry.

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, asked how we measure whether we are responding adequately. The answer is that there is no strict measure, but I have pages of lists on the creative industries—advertising, architecture, the arts, craft, design, fashion, film, computer and video games, music and the performing arts, publishing, software, television and radio—where it seems to me as an outsider that multiculturalism comes naturally; there is not the same distinction that sometimes exists, regrettably, in the formal artistic institutions. Many speakers, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Rendell and Lady Crawley, referred to the way in which our creative industries are heavily multicultural, and quite right too.

We have made it clear to the Arts Council of England that it has to respect cultural diversity. It has to commit itself, as I believe that it has done, to prioritising cultural diversity. I have referred to the Arts Council of England initiative, Diversity 2002. Throughout that year projects and events will bring lasting benefits to communities throughout England. It is also the year of the Queen's Golden Jubilee and of the hosting of the Commonwealth Games. The noble Baroness, Lady Prashar, referred to the fact that only £0.5 million has been allocated to that. I assure the noble Baroness that that is only the first step. That represents the set-out costs. That is not what will be available in the end. The noble Baroness should not contrast the figure unfavourably with the funding for the Year of the Artist.

Some wise words were spoken about broadcasting. Last year, Chris Smith called on the ITC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission and the BBC to review the way in which broadcasters represented diversity issues and lifestyles in their programme making and in their own operations. The noble Baroness, Lady Howells, is right to say that that is a matter of self-interest for them when they consider the considerable part of their audience who are affected.

I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Alli, referred to the Cultural Diversity Network which launched action plans in October to encourage the modernisation of the portrayal of ethnic minorities in mainstream programming. All the broadcasters have committed themselves to turning plans into action. Again, I was glad to hear from the noble Lord. Lord Alli, about the plans of his company, Carlton. To take another example, Channel 4 will be raising its target for employees from ethnic minorities from 9 per cent to 11 per cent by 2003; and for senior employees to 8 per cent. It will create six posts for Black and Asian production staff on a fast-track programme to producer. It has instructed producers to include diversity information in all programme proposals.

That applies also to the DCMS. The noble Lord, Lord Alli, made that point; it is fair. I am not entirely satisfied with what I am able to say to him about that. It is true that Paul Udenze from the Drum in Birmingham, whom the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, will know, has been in the department shadowing the head of arts. It is true also that in the arts division of the DCMS we have had one of the 15 fellows under the ACE special programme, Andy Cheung, and he is here now.

However, my most important answer to the noble Lord, Lord Alli, is that the funding agreements that we have with all those arts bodies stress the need for a clear policy on cultural diversity and that it needs to be reflected in board and staff membership as well as in artists and funding.

I referred to the undoubted difficulty of measuring our achievements and whether we are keeping up. To do so would require many more resources than I have for a debate of this kind; but we recognise that support for the arts in the United Kingdom is central to support for our diverse communities which are the standard-bearers of our nation's cultural identity and history. I passed over the valuable reference of the noble Lord, Lord Alli, to the way in which our museums and galleries reflect our society. The test will be not whether there is toleration of diversity but whether there is enthusiasm about diversity. Again, that is yet to be shown.

The arts and entertainments sectors are at the forefront of multicultural society in the United Kingdom rather than behind. I close by referring to the fourth fundamental belief expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, at the beginning of his report. He talks about the need for society to be cohesive as well as respectful of diversity, fostering a common sense of belonging and shared identity. That is the right way to address these issues.