Her comments follow an open letter – penned earlier this year by the heads of the Jersey Arts Centre, ArtHouse Jersey and the Opera House – asking all election candidates to stop underfunding culture and develop a coherent strategy for nurturing the creative industries.
In States questions this week, Reform Jersey Deputy Carina Alves asked Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham what would be done to address the lack of funds for the arts.
Funding for cultural organisations falls under his remit, and Senator Farnham admitted the that Island spends less on culture than other jurisdictions, committing just 0.7 per cent of States spending compared to the EU average of one per cent.
Mr Farnham said a report on strategies for culture was currently before the Corporate Strategy Board – a board chaired by States chief executive Charlie Parker and made up of chief officers and some senior directors that is tasked with developing proposals for ministers.
He said the report outlined 20 recommendations intended to jump-start the sector. However, the report is not yet available to the public or the Assembly.
The minister was pressed by Deputy Geoff Southern on when it would be available. ‘Why is it still secret?’ he asked. ‘When will we be able to have a look at it?’ Mr Farnham said he hoped that the report would be made public before the autumn.
But Deputy Labey suggested the strategy for culture had essentially been rudderless since former cultural development officer Rod McLoughlin took early retirement.
Deputy Labey said culture in Jersey was ‘woefully neglected’ and that the trustees of arts organisations felt nothing was being done.
Mr Farnham said his ministry would be making culture a priority, with Deputy Montfort Tadier taking some of the responsibility as an assistant minister, and that he looked forward to discussing it with the St Brelade Deputy.