Tom Watson: Culture must be central to Government’s post-covid economic response
In his first intervention as the newly-appointed president of Counterculture Partnership LLP, Tom Watson, the ex-government minister, former Labour Deputy Leader, author and broadcaster, has spelt out the vital importance of the arts and creative sector to the UK’s post-covid recovery. He argues that support for the sector must be a central component of the Government’s efforts to kickstart the UK economy in the aftermath of the pandemic but also acknowledges that the sector, itself, needs to make big changes in the way it does things.
Taking up his new role as president of Counterculture, Tom Watson said:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created the biggest economic challenge any of us have faced in our lifetimes. We need to remind policy-makers of the cultural value of the work that we do in the creative sector, as well as underlining the economic value. Our creative industries are bigger than the life sciences, the automotive sector and the oil and gas industries combined. As well as seeking support from government on a macro level, however, we need to get our own house in order on a micro level.
There is a massive opportunity to look at how we in the creative sector can do things differently, such as sharing support services across a number of different cultural institutions locally, diversifying income streams and utilising new technology to communicate better with ourselves and with the public. Now, more than ever, Counterculture has a vital role to play in working with cultural institutions to seize those opportunities and adapt to these massive challenges. I’ve been deeply impressed with the work of Counterculture in helping organisations manage change and I’m tremendously excited to be playing my part in that.”
Working locally, nationally and internationally Counterculture helps cultural, educational and creative organisations to plan, manage and thrive. Working for businesses, not-for-profits, public bodies, clubs and individuals, clients include a range of museums, galleries, theatres, music organisations, universities, charities, artists and creative practitioners. Counterculture’s approach is built on exceptional experience offering a tailor-made approach from strategic planning to funding, financial and project management; and legal, governance, capital projects and HR advice.
John Newbigin OBE, partner and Chair of Counterculture said:
“I’m delighted to welcome Tom Watson to our Counterculture team. As an organisation, Counterculture is radical and innovative in what it does, what it offers and how it’s run. Those qualities will be more important than ever as the UK’s cultural organisations dig themselves out of the present crisis and I know Tom’s wealth of experience at the interface between the arts, policy, politics and business will be a hugely valuable asset for us and for the people we serve.“
The MP for West Bromwich East for eighteen years, Tom Watson served as a minister under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown as well as being a key figure on the opposition front benches until he stood down from parliament in 2019. As Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (2015-19) he led the party’s internal organisation through complex and demanding political and organisational challenges and helped deliver the party from multi-million debt to surplus.
As Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (2016 – 2019) Tom was a consistent and very vocal champion of the arts and creative sectors, developing initiatives to classify small music venues and places of culture, lobbying MEPs in support of copyright enhancement as well as developing a regulation framework for the tech industry.
As Minister for the Civil Service and Digital Engagement (2005-09) he established the Power of Information Task Force that led to the creation of the Open Data Institute and Government Digital Service.
Tom is also the author of two best-selling books, ‘Dial M for Murdoch’ published in 2012 and ‘Downsizing’ published in 2019.
In April 2020, Tom became the Chair of UK Music.
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