A plea for the arts
On Wednesday I made the case for a revolution in the school curriculum. Speaking at the launch of the Young Fabians Arts and Culture Network alongside artists Grayson Perry and Elysse Adjemon, I recalled the spirit of the transformative Labour MP Jennie Lee, this country's first ever Arts minister.
Jennie made arts and culture a public policy priority, especially in education. She oversaw the establishment of the National Theatre and the National Film School, and was a driving force in the establishment of the Open University.
The guiding principles of her work were access and meaningful investment, and they have remained at the heart of Labour culture policy ever since.
Her enduring legacy could still be seen in the work of the last Labour Government. One of its greatest achievements was in 2001, when Culture Secretary Chris Smith announced free entry to National Museums.
As Shadow Culture Secretary I am determined to emulate Jennie's work and reverse the Tory tide which is rinsing arts, drama and music from the classroom.
Labour has plans in place to help achieve this, from our £1 billion pound Cultural Capital Fund to our new Arts Pupil Premium.
We will improve and upgrade our cultural infrastructure to support creative clusters and jobs in every part of the country; and make sure every child has access to creative learning at school, no matter where they live or how much money their parents earn.
As 50 years ago, when Jennie Lee made the case, a new social as well as artistic climate is essential.
PS: For those interested in the development of public policy in this area, this new report from the Brookings Institute is indispensable reading.