Green Party on Culture and Education

Green party leader Natalie Bennett

The Guardian just hosted a chat with Natalie Bennett, the newish leader of the Green Party.

As the thread of responses is quite long and a little bit trolly, here’s an extract. I asked Natalie about culture and education because I think it’s important that the Green Party has more voice and expertise on policy areas that aren’t perceived as only environmental.

So, I asked this question:

There are two areas that the Green Party isn’t well known for being active or vocal in: Education and Culture, and yet both are vitally important for engendering ecological literacy and shifting cultures towards sustainability. The Government is undertaking major reforms of schools and HE, purportedly to help UK compete in the ‘global race’, but in ways that will diminish the creativity, resilience and global awareness of young people. They are also cutting funds for the cultural sector, which makes it harder for the sector to support an open, diverse and high-wellbeing culture. What can the Green Party do to stimulate support for creative education and culture?

Natalie’s response:

“@BridgetMcKenz – Thanks for the question! Coincidentally, I’m giving a speech tonight on Education (all welcome –

And I do want to do more work around cultural policy – and media; I spoke at a media conference last Friday in Bournemouth with a particular focus on the need for encouraging vibrant local media and acting to increase plurality in our national media.

One of the challenges here is that while we have lots of different, and I think strong things to say on for example education, from opposition to academies and free schools to zero tuition fees, but the media does tend to pigeonhole us and only ask us about environmental issues.

But we’re determined to raise our profile on a whole range of non-environmental issues, and I think we’re starting to get traction, particularly on economic and social issues, from our call for the minimum wage to be a living wage to the renationalisation of the railways.”

Just after posting this, I received the latest copy of GreenWorld, the Green Party magazine. This is an Arts and Ecology special issue, edited by James Brady. There are some timely articles. One of particular interest to me is ‘Seeing the Forest for the Trees’ about the work of David Haley and the Trees of Grace project. There are other pieces, referencing Cape Farewell and Tipping Point, as well as the role of the arts in tackling some problems of environmental engineering. Taken together the articles are intelligent introductions to ecological arts for those who haven’t realised the role of the arts. What the edition lacks is any idea of how this relates to cultural policy (and creative education) in the Green Party.

A commenter on my question pointed out that the Green Party had voted to remove the cultural policy. I’m not sure on the status of that, and intend to find out a bit more.

But if the question is an open one, what do you think the policy should it be?

What kind of actions are needed now to ensure that the education reforms don’t wipe out creativity, ecological literacy and skills that young people need for an uncertain future?


2 responses to “Green Party on Culture and Education

  1. I couldn’t quite understand that comment either, as it was the first I’d heard of it. I think the policy is pretty sound as it stands. There is an emphasis on localisation, but in my consultancy work I can see the problems that arise when there is too much duplication of effort at a regional and local level and a lack of national co-ordination (e.g. on integrated digital access to cultural collections), and also when local authorities decide to remove support for culture. So, I’d suggest a more tempered view – a stronger endorsement of the role of bodies like ACE or HLF, the National Archives, English Heritage, BFI and the British Library – in ensuring that we tap into international/European collaborative networks and co-ordinate efforts across the UK, as well as supporting a more participatory culture at local level.

    I also think it could be strengthened in acknowledging the role of culture and creative learning in building a low-carbon, high wellbeing society, and equipping communities to be resilient for an uncertain future.

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