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There was much uproar at the above Labour Press press team tweet, much (if not most) from what the party may well consider it's "core vote" protesting a statement which unfortunately does appear to pander to specious right wing logic that public services have to be cut and cut drastically. We all know the banking sector is still rolling in giant bonuses and that there's massive avoidance of corporation tax. 

As a minority ethnic person who works in the arts I would say there's also a crucial element here. A quick google search will reveal that all the outraged voices being quoted on arts cuts are overwhelmingly white and middle class. It surely stands to reason that as arts funding gets cut more and more that, like all things, when you extrapolate outward it's those of us on the fringes and margins who feel the cut more than anyone. It's often slightly surreal reading about the likes of the National Theatre having to make up another £200,000 shortfall in corporate sponsorship but arts funding cuts profoundly affects anyone who is not from the dominant white middle-class demographic. 

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The Arts Council recently expressed concern about the lack of applications from minority ethnic arts organisations for National Portfolio (NPO) funding - funding which essentially enables arts organisations to operate with some form of permanence. It's hardly surprising the number is so low though. 

All the statistics, reports and first-hand experience point to the fact that entry level to ,and (crucially) progress, in arts careers is more difficult than ever. An often closed cloistered and protective environment requiring availability for unpaid “internships” (which take a variety of forms), access to “networks” and ability to speak a coded language, even when we can get there, our work, as people of minority ethnic (and particularly East Asian) background, is relegated to marginalised corners of niche minority interest.

Our experience, training and expertise often counts for nothing, so devalued is it when the decision-makers and gatekeepers insist that the way round this obviously prejudicial state of affairs is to sponsor more box-ticking “training schemes”.

The black American comedian Chris Rock wrote recently that Barack Obama’s position as first black president was not, as most posit, a victory of “progress” for black people. It was, rather, progress for white people. There have been numerous black people who had presidential qualities. White people had to progress to a level where they could potentially allow it to happen.

And this is true of the arts. Chinese and East Asian people, as well as people from all ethnic backgrounds and disabilities, have artistic talent. Of course they do. The “establishment” needs to progress and allow them to flourish. The whole arts sector requires funding for that to happen.

Of course it’s often argued with impossible to verify statistics that “Chinese people only make up 1% of the population” but I’m pretty certain we’re not even getting that in terms of arts funding and presence. It’s also worth bearing in mind that apparently only 7% of children are privately educated. Do we really believe that only 7% of our leading actors, writers, directors and arts decision makers are privately educated?

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And it makes all sorts of fiscal sense as well. There’s an oft repeated statistic that for every £1 spent the arts brings in a further £3. Imagine the potential if we had a more vibrant, diverse, creative and truly competitive “industry” as opposed to what we all too often appear to have: a cosy protectorate “club” for the privileged few and those “in the know”?

The arts is vital for social cohesion, expression and hope. All the major parties miss a massive trick here. The number of potential voters of Chinese descent who do not at present exercise their democratic right is astonishingly high as a percentage.

All too often it appears that people of Chinese and East Asian descent simply do not feel part of modern Britain. They don’t see themselves there. They’re not represented, they’re not included. How can they feel any differently when such a massive part of British life, one we’re all so rightly proud of, our arts and culture simply do not recognise them beyond poorly conceived, badly clichéd and outdated portrayals of “exoticism” and foreignness?

Still, in 2015, no permanent East Asian characters in Eastenders. We seem to say this literally every year. And I would venture the same goes for people of all minority ethnic backgrounds. Instead of allowing them to feel disaffected and alienated let’s try and engage them and make them a true part of Britain. Let’s actively combat that awful UKIP “us and them” agenda.

In case this appears one track let me say I also want to see the next Labour government save the NHS, defend trade unions, fight for better wages and conditions, do away with zero hours contracts, re-nationalise the rail service and speak up on the positive benefits of immigration. But the arts is the world I know and I would like to see a coherent vision and commitment for minority ethnic participation in that world and where people of East Asian descent are not abandoned in the diversity initiative.

Daniel York is an actor, writer, filmmaker and founder member of British East Asian Artists.

The article was originally published in February 2015 edition of The Orient - Chinese for Labour's bi-annual publication. If you have an idea for an article, or an event to share then please email alvin@chineseforlabour.org.

The Orient Archive: British East Asian Artists Community Needs

There was much uproar at the above Labour Press press team tweet, much (if not most) from what the party may well consider it's "core vote" protesting a statement which...

On 30th June 2015, the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project will have their formal launch party at Regent's University.

 

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The project, four years in the making, aims to create a historical archive documenting the role of Chinese in the British armed forces throughout history. the archive will be composed of personal reflections, family records and memorabilia of those who served in the British Chinese Armed Forces during the 19th and 20th centuries as well as some 40 extended oral history interviews. The project will develop a research publciation, two international conferences and two exhibitions.

The event will be on Tuesday 30th June 2016, 14:30 - 17:00 at Regent's University London, Inner Circle, Regent's Park, NW1 4NS.

The timetable for the event is as follows:

14:30   Registration and Afternoon Tea

15:30   Welcome Speeches

-          Prof Aldwyn Cooper, Regent’s University London

-          Mr Holland Kwok, Ming-Ai (London Institute)

15:50   British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project Introduction

-          Mrs Rachel Hasted, Heritage Lottery Fund

-          Ms Chungwen Li, Ming-Ai (London Institute)

-          Prof Jonathan Liu, Regent’s University London

16:20   Chinese Contribution to British Military History

-          Mr Robert Fleming, National Army Museum

16:40   Q & A

If you wish to attend the launch then please contact tghe Ming-Ai (London) Institute at rsvp@ming-ai.org.uk

 

Project Launch for British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage Project

On 30th June 2015, the British Chinese Armed Forces Heritage project will have their formal launch party at Regent's University.     The project, four years in the making, aims...

Chinese for Labour attended the BAME Leadership Hustings in Harrow yesterday evening. In a jam-packed leisure centre we listened to what the four leadership and five deputy leadership candidates had to say. The Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP and NEC/BAME Member opened the proceedings.

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Andy focused on rebuilding an emotional connection with voters and listening to the people, only with business expansion and growth can we cut the deficit, this will take skills including a new UCAS points system for apprenticeships and making university possible ensures more talent in our economy. Yvette felt that we were too narrowly focussed and we need to broaden our appeal by helping working families and building a stronger economy in a fairer society so that people can vote for Labour with their hearts and minds. Jeremy talked about austerity as a ploy to make poor people poorer and the rich richer and his thirty plus years campaigning for social justice. Liz talked about educating our young and starting early, being pro-business and diversity.

Yvette pledged to double the number of BAME MPs from Labour’s current tally of 23 and Andy pledged to ensure representation on shortlists where the BAME population is >50%. Both candidates acknowledged that the BAME vote could not be taken for granted and must be earned by representation of a modern Britain. The Tories secured 1 million BAME votes in the last General Election.

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The five candidates for the deputy leadership then kicked off the second half of the hustings. Ben Bradshaw committed to regional targets for BAME candidates and changing the process for Parliamentary selections. Stella Creasy discussed Labour becoming a movement for change and bridging members to the leadership. Tom Watson committed to doubling the number of BAME MPs and mentioned that whilst we’ve had exceptional Sikh and Chinese candidates we still do not have one in the Commons. Tom congratulated BAME Labour for taking the initiative in making our voices heard. Angela Eagle talked about young Labour and engaging our younger voters and her passion for social justice. Caroline Flint praised the success of the BAME community and championed social mobility for all.

We're asking questions to the Labour Leader, Deputy Leader and London Mayoral candidates about issues that relate specifically to the Chinese community. If you have a question you'd like to ask then please email as soon as possible to ash@chineseforlabour.org

Labour Leader & Deputy Leadership BAME Hustings

Chinese for Labour attended the BAME Leadership Hustings in Harrow yesterday evening. In a jam-packed leisure centre we listened to what the four leadership and five deputy leadership candidates had...

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This Friday there will be a special BAME Leader and Deputy Leader Hustings event. This is the second BAME hustings ever held by the Labour Party specifically the BAME community. 

The event will take place in Harrow, West London at 6:30pm on Friday the 26th June. There will be two hustings, one for the Leadership candidates and one for the deputy Leadership candidates.

The candidates for Leader of the Labour party are: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall.

The candidates for Deputy Leader of the Labour party are: Ben Bradshaw, Stella Creasy, Angela Eagle, Caroline Flint and Tom Watson

If you wish to attend then please confirm your attendance by contacting Rafa on 078121 18164.

Don't forget as a member of Chinese for Labour, you'll be able to vote for Leader of the Labour Party, as well as the Deputy Leader and if you live in London, the Labour candidate for London Mayor. You can sign up as a member here.

BAME Hustings Event

  This Friday there will be a special BAME Leader and Deputy Leader Hustings event. This is the second BAME hustings ever held by the Labour Party specifically the BAME...

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The Royal College of Nursing [RCN] has warned the government that thousands of foreign nurses working in the UK could be forced to return to their home country under new immigration rules. Under the new rules, people from outside the European Economic Area [EEA] must be earning £35,000 or more before they are allowed to stay in the UK after six years. This new rule is of particularly importance to the East Asian community with over 20,000 nurses in the UK coming from the Philippines, the largest number from any one country. 

Over 3,000 nurses lost

The new rules, to be introduced in 2017, will force more nurses to return to their home countries, leaving health services with nothing to show for the millions of pounds spent on recruiting them. The RCN has calculated that up to 3,365 nurses currently working in the UK will potentially be affected and estimates that it will have cost £20.19 million to recruit them, money that will have been wasted if they are forced to leave the UK. Overseas recruitment is increasing to a shortage of home-grown nurses and crackdown on agency nurse spending and if the trends continue to 2020, over 6,600 nurses and £40 million lost under the new rules. 

Remove the Threshold and increase UK nurse training

The new rules are part of the government's effort to control net migration, however the RCN argues that spending vast amounts of money on recruiting overseas nurses who will only be in the health system for a short period of time is a wast of valuable time and resources. The organisation is calling on the Westminster Government to add nursing to the list of shortage occupations and to reconsider the £35,000 salary threshold. The Government should also take urgent steps to increase the number of UK nurse training places, which will reduce the currently over-reliance on overseas recruitment in the longer term. 

If you have any other news stories or opinion pieces that you think are of interest to the Chinese and East Asian community than please email alvin.shum@chineseforlabour.org.

New Government immigration rules 'will cause chaos' and cost the health service millions

The Royal College of Nursing [RCN] has warned the government that thousands of foreign nurses working in the UK could be forced to return to their home country under new...

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A Learning the Lessons Taskforce is to be set up to  analyse the election data, draw on the experiences of our key stakeholders and listen to the public to see what we can learn from the election.

The Taskforce will take online submissions and hold hearings in the nations and regions across the country and will seek to conclude its work in time to report to the new leadership team and the NEC. It was noted that time is of the essence given the Scottish Parliamentary, Welsh Assembly, London Mayoral and local government elections taking place in May 2016.

The full membership of the Taskforce panel is:

  • Chair of the Taskforce – Margaret Beckett
  • Chair of the NEC – Jim Kennedy
  • General Secretary – Iain McNicol
  • Candidate from target seat – Sharon Taylor
  • Candidate from target seat – Anne Snelgrove
  • BAME representative – Valerie Vaz
  • Representative from the PLP – Tom Blenkinsop
  • Representative from Scotland – Margaret Curran
  • Representative from Wales – Chris Ruane
  • Representative from local government – Alice Perry
  • Representative from members – Johanna Baxter

Learning the Lessons

A Learning the Lessons Taskforce is to be set up to  analyse the election data, draw on the experiences of our key stakeholders and listen to the public to see what... Read more

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Come and find out first hand on how to be selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, engage and develop a wining campaign and getting the votes out to be elected.

We are looking out for potentail candidates in forthcoming elections. Funding and training will be provided to successful candidates. Interested?

This is a FREE event with drinks and canapes provided.

When
Friday, 12 June 2015 from 19:00 to 22:00

Where
4th Floor, 25 Queen Anne's Gate, St James's Park, Westminster, London SW1H 9BU

RSVP
Book HERE

Come and meet our newly elected MP - Catherine West

Come and find out first hand on how to be selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, engage and develop a wining campaign and getting the votes out to be elected....

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Our campaign for a better, fairer Britain has been powered by your dedication, passion and generosity.

Very sad our Sarah Owen and Rebecca Blake were not elected on Thursday. They have been such talented, hardworking candidates and we know they have bright political futures ahead of them.

Thank you for your support of us and the Party.

Take a breath and come back fighting - Britain still needs a Labour Party.

Britain needs us to rebuild again so we can have a Labour government that stands up for working people again.

 

Thank you

Our campaign for a better, fairer Britain has been powered by your dedication, passion and generosity. Very sad our Sarah Owen and Rebecca Blake were not elected on Thursday. They... Read more

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Check out who is supporting and voting Labour on May 7 for

  • A strong economic foundation
  • Higher living standards for working familie
  • An NHS with time to care
  • Controls on immigration
  • A country where the next generation can do better than the last
  • Homes to buy and action on rents

Check out who's supporting and voting Labour on May 7

Check out who is supporting and voting Labour on May 7 for A strong economic foundation Higher living standards for working familie An NHS with time to care Controls on... Read more

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David Cameron dodged question after question on his plan to cut child benefit and tax credits. Yesterday we saw the proof when he refused the answer.

The choice is clear: your tax credits are safe under Labour - and they’ll be slashed under the Tories.

This is the choice on child benefits

David Cameron dodged question after question on his plan to cut child benefit and tax credits. Yesterday we saw the proof when he refused the answer. The choice is clear:... Read more

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