Lisa Nandy appointed as UK’s new Culture Minister

Lisa Nandy has been appointed Britain’s new Culture Minister or, to give the title its full name, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer appointed Nandy as part of the new Cabinet following the Labour Party’s historic victory on 4 July, where the party won 412 seats and ended 14 years of Conservative rule.

Nandy will replace Conservative minister Lucy Fraser, who was appointed by outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in February 2023. Fraser was one of several cabinet ministers who lost their seats in the election. Those who lost their seats also include Labour Party shadow secretary for culture, media and sport Thangam Debbonaire, who had been expected to take a role in government but lost heavily to her local Green Party rival.

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Nandy, who has been a member of Parliament since 2010, has previously served as shadow cabinet minister for international development and shadow housing minister. She represents the constituency of Wigan in the north of England. Although she has no direct connection to the media and entertainment industry, she has spent most of her life in the public sector, according to a Times of London profile, Nandy’s mother was a television producer.

In 2020, she wrote an article for the Labour website titled: “I would defend a free media. This is how the BBC should be reformed.” In it she suggested that if she ever became prime minister, she would tax social media companies to fund local media and investigative journalism, and defend the BBC licence fee. She also proposed restructuring the BBC board. “The BBC should move to a model owned and directed by licence fee holders,” she wrote.

Nandy takes over at a time when the UK screen sector is facing a period of uncertainty over the post-pandemic situation and the Hollywood writers and actors’ strikes. In addition, budget cuts, a slowdown in the TV advertising market and reduced spending by streamers have hit the mostly freelance workforce hard.

Earlier this year, the Conservative government introduced a new 40% film tax credit for U.K. productions with budgets of less than $19 million, aimed at boosting an independent film sector that was on the point of collapse (spending is set to drop to just $150 million in 2023). While it was widely welcomed by the film industry, many have already said the incoming government needs to do much more to protect a sector that is now one of the fastest-growing in the British economy but is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

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