In her capacity as Chair of the Art, Craft and Design in Education APPG, Sharon spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the Artists Union England held in Newcastle.
In her speech, Sharon spoke about the importance of trade unionism, the need for artists to collectively work together and across the labour movement on issues affecting artists, and the importance of art and creativity to society.
You can read Sharon's speech below.
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you. It is an honour to be invited to speak at your AGM.
For those who don’t know who I am, I’m Sharon Hodgson, the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health.
However, I am here to talk to you in another of my many capacities, and that is as an advocate for the arts in our society, along with being the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design in Education.
I have been an advocate for the arts for as long as I have been a Member of Parliament; understanding not just how important art can be to the wellbeing of society, but also, how important art can be to our economy as well.
These are both points I will touch upon in my speech today, but also about the importance of unionism.
As a proud trade unionist myself, I believe it is important for workers to unionise so they can collectively work together to improve their working environment and working life.
Unions are crucial in providing workers with a voice in the workplace that stands up for them, and this is why it is welcome to see artists – like yourselves – unionising.
We all know the exploitative pay and conditions that artists can face and the fact that artists are working more, for less pay; sometimes even for free.
Unionising also allows artists to show solidarity with other workers by affiliating to umbrella union groups such as the TUC, to work on shared campaigns from campaigning against cuts in art education or on pay and conditions.
That is why it is welcome that Art Union England is now an affiliated member of the TUC and attended the conference for the first time last week, where you raised the key issues of art and investment.
Art and the creative sectors that you all work in are crucial to society and our economy, and have a significant presence.
The latest figures show that the creative industries contributed £87 billion to the UK economy – that work out at roughly 5% of the total. Whilst the sector employed nearly 2 million people, around 6% of all UK jobs.
This just goes to show the importance of art to our society, and how we must ensure we help nurture this sector to continue to flourish.
This is why working with other unions to ensure that the views of artists are heard by Government, politicians and wider society is so important but also to consider different and innovative ways to ensure that art continues to remain a central part of our lives.
I read with interest the motion tabled by AUE at TUC conference in Brighton, which called for an agreement to be made amongst affiliated members that “1 percent of any new-build construction, renovation, conversion or major refurbishment … be spent on buying or commissioning of public art.” Or as it is commonly known Percent for Art schemes.
When reading further into this, it was interesting to see policies similar to this have been around in the USA and other European countries for a number of years. Take New York for example, which saw a policy like this introduced in 1982 and since then has seen nearly 300 projects completed with accumulated art work commissions of over $41 million.
This reaffirms the belief I have held for so long on the importance of art to society.
For me, art has been an integral part of our humanity ever since the dawn of time when the first caveman drew a buffalo on the first cave wall.
This is because art makes our hearts sing and therefore should be enjoyed by everybody, without any restrictions on access to great projects.
As the “A Policy for the Arts” white paper published back in 1965 by Jennie Lee, the first arts minister appointed in the UK by Harold Wilson, said art: “should not be regarded as something remote from everyday life.”
This is why a policy which incorporates art as a part of the commissioning process and spending on major public projects helps allow art to be a central part of public life, but also helps to reverse the concerning erosion of art in society due to short-sighted budget cuts.
Access to art in society is something I have campaigned on, including fighting to protect ancient heritage crafts to ensuring children have access to art that allows them to expand their horizons - but one of my main campaigns has been around the EBacc.
This is something that I have campaigned on in my capacity as Chair of the Art, Craft and Design in Education APPG, and I have worked closely with the National Society for Education in Art and Design and the Bacc to the Future campaign.
I have repeatedly called on the Government to address this issue – even bringing Nick Gibb, the school’s minister, before the Art, Craft and Design in Education APPG for nearly an hour and a half to discuss the impact of the EBacc on art subjects.
However, the concerns that this is negatively affecting the pipeline continue to go ignored.
This is deeply worrying when the latest figures released following last month’s GCSE results showed a fall in the number of young people taking an Art and Design GCSE for the second consecutive year with the total number being the lowest since 2001, at a total of 3.2 per cent.
The current position we see is one of creative industries booming but education policies failing to recognise creativity will be one of the main drivers of our 21st century economy.
This is why it is important to have unions such as yourselves standing up for art – may it be through advocating for better financial support for the arts within wider infrastructure projects or against the disastrous policies facing our education sector.
As artists, you all have the knowledge and experience to go to the Government and lobby against the worst excesses of their policies and ensure that the next generation of artists after you are supported to achieve great things.
The way to do this is collectively and working across the labour movement – with other arts unions, such as the musician’s union and with education unions, such as the National Education Union and NASUWT, but with the Labour Party too.
So, I wish you luck in the future as your union grows and look forward to working with you all in the future to ensure that art continues to make our hearts sing.
Collectively we can work to stop art from withering away and save an essential part of our humanity.
We must fight to protect art, champion art and invest in art at every possible opportunity.
In her capacity as Chair of the Art, Craft and Design in Education APPG, Sharon spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the Artists Union England held in Newcastle. In...
Sharon signed up to support the UK’s drowning prevention charity in its work to reduce drowning and provide water safety education and lifesaving awards across the UK and Ireland.
Representatives from The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) made the trip to Parliament ahead of its annual national Don’t Drink and Drown campaign which, this year, runs from December 4 to the 10.
Sharon Hodgson MP was invited to find out more about the charity and its work, and learnt shocking statistics about alcohol and drug related drownings.
An average of 73 people a year, the equivalent of one in every five, who lose their lives to drowning have alcohol or drugs in their system. Those most at risk include 17 to 29-year-olds, 45- 49-year-olds and 60 to 64-year-olds, particularly males.
In Tyne and Wear, there have been 30 accidental drownings between 2012 and 2016, 10 of which involved alcohol.
“Too often in our local area we hear of the lives lost because of accidental drowning. That is why water safety is such an important issue to me and why I want to raise awareness of campaigns like the RLLS UK’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign.
“Raising awareness of the risks of drowning is crucial in reducing the number of people who lose their lives in the water every year, especially following drinking. That is why I am pleased to sign the pledge to support the RLSS UK in their aim to reduce the rate of drowning in the UK and will continue to raise awareness of the risks of drowning in our local area.”
The RLSS UK works tirelessly to promote drowning prevention messages and deliver water safety education nationally, as well as offering a range of awards and programmes that teach lifesaving skills to all ages.
Sharon signed up to support the UK’s drowning prevention charity in its work to reduce drowning and provide water safety education and lifesaving awards across the UK and Ireland. Representatives...
Read Sharon's latest Echo column below or find it on the Sunderland Echo website.
As Parliament returns from summer recess, Brexit has dominated not only the headlines but the Parliamentary agenda too as we began the passage of the Great Repeal Bill (now known as the EU Withdrawal Bill).
This Bill has received a lot of interest, especially from those concerned that it was to block Brexit.
The simple answer is no, it was not.
We are leaving the EU come March 2019, as was decided during the referendum and endorsed by the Parliamentary vote in March to trigger Article 50 – which I voted for.
However, the Bill put before Parliament was a power grab by Tory ministers to cut Parliament out of the process and give ministers unfettered power to change laws as we convert EU legislation into British law without any scrutiny by Parliament, laws such as workers’ rights to animal welfare and environmental protections.
Since the General Election in June, the Tories have been acting as if they won a huge majority.
That is far from the reality of it with Theresa May relying on the help of the DUP to stay in Number 10.
Parliament is the centre of our democracy and should not be side-lined.
I take my role in Parliament very seriously, including when it comes to Brexit and ensuring the best deal possible for our area.
To remove all accountability and scrutiny of the Government by Parliament is something that I could not support.
This is why I could not vote for the Bill in its current form this week and will work with colleagues across the House to improve the Bill as it continues its passage through Parliament.
As I have said before: Brexit is one of the biggest political, economic and diplomatic issues this country will face – this has not changed.
It is crucial that Parliament is consulted by the Government, instead of railroaded as ministers grab powers to rewrite legislation without scrutiny.
No Government, especially a minority government, should hold such powers.
It is important that our democracy is not watered down and just as I consulted with constituents and promised to continue listening to their views during this process, so should the Government with Parliament.
Parliament is elected by the people to hold the Government to account and pass and amend legislation.
This Bill, in its current form, is an affront to democracy.
Read Sharon's latest Echo column below or find it on the Sunderland Echo website. As Parliament returns from summer recess, Brexit has dominated not only the headlines but the Parliamentary...
Sat 9th Sept, 2017
Caption: Above, Sharon attends public exhibition by Coast Communications for the propsed Rolton Kilbride gasification plant at Washington.
Caption: Above, Sharon talking to an emissions expert at the exhibition.
Caption: Above and below, Sharon discussing the exhibition with Washington Councillors Dianne and David Snowdon.
Sharon attends Rolton Kilbride's public exhibition on the proposed gasification plant - at the Washington Leisure Centre, Sat 9th Sep 2017
Sat 9th Sept, 2017 Caption: Above, Sharon attends public exhibition by Coast Communications for the propsed Rolton Kilbride gasification plant at Washington. Caption: Above, Sharon talking to an emissions expert... Read more
As part of the First Phase of the Path to Excellence consultation, Sharon was invited to attend a meeting of the Sunderland and South Tyneside Joint Health Scrutiny Committee to give her views on the consultation and the proposed plans.
Sharon's comments from the meeting can be read below.
If any constituent wishes to include their views in this consultation, they can visit the Path to Excellence website and fill out the survey there: https://pathtoexcellence.org.uk/take-part-survey/
Further details about the proposed plans can be read on the Path to Excellence website.
PLEASE NOTE THE CONSULTATION CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT ON THE 15TH OCTOBER 2017.
** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY **
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to your committee this afternoon.
I don’t want to speak for too long, as I know there is a packed agenda of other stakeholders to hear from.
In my contribution, I just want to raise some points about the consultation along with seeking reassurances that as many people as possible are being consulted with, especially those from disadvantaged groups.
As we know, these proposed plans come at a time when the NHS is facing serious reductions in its resources form central government with every growing demand by patients.
The work of our NHS staff is commendable and we should never stop praising them for their hard work and dedication – something I know every one of us in the room here today can agree upon.
However, I want to seek assurances from those here today that the plans being put forward will not put further strains on our already overly stretched NHS staff and guarantee that patients will not see a diminished quality or access to services?
Capacity has already been mentioned with regard to Sunderland Royal Hospital and I’m sure will be mentioned again by others. But also the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Queen Elizabeth Hospital could be effected.
We cannot escape the fact that these plans are about cuts. Cuts which are passed off as efficiencies but nevertheless, are being inflicted upon our NHS from a national position which is ideologically driven.
We know efficiencies can always be made when it comes to our public services, but the drive to make our NHS more efficient should never be done in a way that impedes on the experiences of staff and patients alike.
I’m aware some centralising of services make sense and can greatly improve the services offered so this is about taking the public, staff and patients on this journey with a full and transparent consultation, which is why we are all here today.
Service users and staff should be at the centre of every decision made. I know that my constituents want to see quality NHS services in their local area that they can access with ease by staff who are confident in the structures designed.
That is why I welcome that this consultation is happening, whilst recognising there are concerns about how it is being done. For example, am I correct in thinking that people are not allowed or encouraged just to turn up at the public hearings – but have to register first to be allowed to attend?
People should have their voices heard on these proposals, as we know that people value our NHS so dearly. The consultation events being held are important, but as we know people may not have the chance to attend these sessions and will instead take part in the survey on the Path to Excellence website.
Though, from recent information released to the public, there have only been 414 survey responses to date. Is that correct? It may be a little higher since that figure was released. Now I don’t have the population figure to hand that this consultation covers but it’s many hundreds of thousands, possibly not much short of ½ million. So that does seem a little low to me?
So I have genuine concerns that these responses will not fully reflect the thoughts of local people, and as a crucial way for people to engage with this consultation, I hope that the two remaining sessions planned will be opened up to as many people as possible to allow people with as many opportunities as possible to engage with the future of local provision.
Decisions as great as these should have the fullest engagement from local people so that services reflect what they wish and expect.
It is also important that groups who are harder to engage with, through many complex reasons, have their say including young people and older people, disabled people, BME communities and LGBT people.
Some of these groups access services on a regular basis and it is crucial that they are listened to, just as all of us should be.
I understand that support is out there for charities and organisations to provide routes in for these groups to engage with the consultation – and I would welcome an update from the committee on this and what they hope to do further to ensure everyone is listened to.
These plans will change the very nature of our local NHS services. Consultation is important so that people are not caught unaware when a service may close and they then struggle to access it.
I hope the committee can give me the reassurances that this consultation is being done in a way that everyone can have their say, and we can ensure our NHS reflects the wishes of local people.
As part of the First Phase of the Path to Excellence consultation, Sharon was invited to attend a meeting of the Sunderland and South Tyneside Joint Health Scrutiny Committee to...
Information for my constituents regarding Rolton Kilbride's proposed renewable energy centre Hillthorn Park in Washington
Information for my constituents regarding Rolton Kilbride's proposed renewable energy centre Hillthorn Park in Washington Read more
Over the 2017 summer holidays, Northumbria University conducted a mapping exercise into holiday hunger provision across the United Kingdom.
Their findings found:
- A rise in the number of organisations delivering holiday hunger clubs since 2015 with a sharp rise in the establishment of new holiday clubs in 2017.
- The regions of the UK with the greatest number of responses to the survey are the North East of England, London and Scotland.
- Over two thirds of organisations surveyed do not charge for their holiday club provision.
- The majority of organisations provide food and a range of activities for children.
- Voluntary or community based groups and church or faith groups together make up over half of all holiday club providers.
- The majority of organisations rely on both paid and volunteer staff and partner with other organisations or agencies to deliver this provision.
- Holiday clubs are available to children of all ages but organisations predominately focus their provision on primary school aged children (5 – 11 year olds).
Over the past five years, Sharon Hodgson MP, has campaigned on the issue of child hunger issues, including holiday hunger, including the commissioning of the first mapping exercise in the summer of 2016 as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for School Food.
In response to the latest information released on the holiday hunger situation in the UK, Sharon, said:
“It is deeply concerning to see that holiday hunger provision this summer has increased so drastically compared to last summer, especially with some of the greatest number of responses to Northumbria University’s survey coming from the North East.
“The staff and volunteers who help provide this vital support to families over the summer holidays should be thanked profusely for doing such an amazing job, but it is high time that the Government seriously addressed this issue once and for all.
“The Government must acknowledge this is becoming an ever-more serious issue in our country and come up with policy to tackle this issue. By continuing to put their heads in the sand, they are letting down generations of children who deserve the best start in life, no matter what their background or circumstances. The time to act is now.”
You can see the full report from Northumbria University here: http://www.frankfield.co.uk/upload/docs/Holiday%20Club%20Survey%202017.pdf
Over the 2017 summer holidays, Northumbria University conducted a mapping exercise into holiday hunger provision across the United Kingdom. Their findings found: A rise in the number of organisations delivering...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jul-Sep 2017 number 96
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jul-Sep 2017 number 96
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jul-Sep 2017 number 96 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jul-Sep 2017 number 96 Read more
Following concerns that the Department of Health was ignoring the concerns of the contaminated blood community about the Department's involvement in setting up the inquiry, Sharon responded on behalf of the Opposition during an Urgent Question called by Diana Johnson MP.
You can read the full debate in Hansard here.
Read Sharon's contribution to the debate below.
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is disappointing that we are here again today, so soon after last week’s announcement. A week ago, this House united in agreement to finally facilitate justice for those tragically affected by this scandal. Yet, as we have heard, in recent days Ministers have reneged on last week’s promises and run roughshod over the affected community.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr Philip Dunne)
The Minister of State may shake his head, but that is how the community feel; we have spoken to them. There are three key questions that the Under-Secretary before us this morning must answer, and I hope she will be more forthcoming with much-needed answers than she was to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson).
Understandably, the community have deeply held suspicions when it comes to the Department of Health, so why are Ministers ignoring these concerns and the demands to facilitate an inquiry through another Department, such as the Ministry of Justice? This concern has been well documented in the letter to the Prime Minister by my hon. Friend, the Haemophilia Society, the 10 campaign groups and the law firms Collins Law and Leigh Day. Why does the Minister think the Government can so easily disregard all these people?
Events over the past few days have shown that last week’s promise to consult, engage and listen to the community was simply warm words. The audacious move to hold a roundtable meeting this morning with so little notice to potential attendees from throughout the UK has hindered many from being involved in the process of setting up the inquiry. Will Ministers explain why the meeting was held at such short notice? Who did they plan to invite so that the meeting was properly consultative? In the end, who was scheduled to attend following the mass boycott by many of those invited, who felt that the offer of a meeting was a slap in the face?
It is important that the inquiry is held sooner rather than later, but not at the risk of jeopardising justice. Will the Minister publicly outline, now, the timetable for the inquiry? Do the Government intend to initiate the inquiry in September? If so, why has that not been made public? Why is it that we must bring Ministers to the House again to make this clear? Does that not go against everything we were promised last week? The Minister must remember the promises made just last week and ensure that consultation is central to the whole process; otherwise, the Government will fail this community, who must have the justice they so rightly deserve.
Following concerns that the Department of Health was ignoring the concerns of the contaminated blood community about the Department's involvement in setting up the inquiry, Sharon responded on behalf of...
In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate secured by Dan Jarvis MP on the need for the Government to consider the introduction of an opt-out organ donation system to improve organ donation in England.
You can read the full debate on Hansard here.
Read Sharon's contribution to the debate below.
In her capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a debate secured by Dan Jarvis MP on the need for the Government to consider the introduction of...