Cultural Policy Under New Labour
The Cultural Policy Under New Labour project took place over two-years, and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, from 2012 to 2014. The team consisted of Professor David Hesmondhalgh (PI or Principal Investigator), Professor Kate Oakley , Dr David Lee and the Post-Doctoral Research Fellow appointed to work on the project, Dr Melissa Nisbett (who is now at King’s College London). The project examined New Labour’s cultural policies from 1997 to 2010, including the arts, creative industries (including film policy), heritage, the issue of ‘the regions’, and the creation of Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and ‘Creative Partnerships’.
New Labour’s cultural policies are of particular interest, because more than any other British government, and more than most modern national governments, New Labour placed great emphasis on culture and the arts in their political self-presentation and in policy practice. They placed much greater stress than other governments on the economic role of commercial ‘creative industries’, while retaining and indeed raising subsidies for the arts.
The team conducted 45 interviews with many of the major players in UK cultural policy during the 1997-2010 period (including senior politicians and arts administrators), analysed many key documents, and read a wide variety of secondary sources, academic, journalistic and others. They used relevant social and political theory to interpret and evaluate what happened and what they were told by interviewees. These sources were the basis of a number of journal articles, and a book, Culture, Economy and Politics: the Case of New Labour, published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2015. These publications not only tell the story of New Labour’s interventions in culture, they also provide an interpretation, explanation and evaluation of them, drawing out implications for how modern governments and political parties might best seek to address problems of equality and freedom in the realm of culture.