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The Arts (Business Sponsorship)

Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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19.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he proposes to take further steps to encourage and increase the business sponsorship of the arts outside London.

Yes. I launched a new phase in the Government's campaign to encourage business sponsorship of the arts in York last week, when I spoke to an invited audience from local businesses and arts organisations. I plan to hold similar meetings in other parts of the country.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his activities in this sphere are welcome? Does he feel that business in general understands the advantages that accrue to it from such sponsorship of the arts?

I think that big business certainly understands. I am not sure that medium-sized and small businesses yet understand. One of the purposes of my campaign is to try to spread the message to slightly smaller businesses. I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support. I shall continue to pursue my activities throughout the country to the best of my ability.

Will my right hon. Friend accept that an outstanding example of this support is the Cambridge symphony orchestra? Cannot this example be well adapted elsewhere?

Yes. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to address the Cambridge symphony orchestra dinner recently. I hope that the orchestra continues from strength to strength.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that, whatever the generosity of business firms, this can never replace the support that will always be needed from the State? This has not happened in any other country in the world. Is he aware that in the provinces as well as in London a large number of theatres are dark or crumbling away, including one in my constituency, which we are trying hard to save?

Will he make sure that besides encouraging firms and industry to support the arts, he will do his best to see that he gets a greater share of resources from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to support the arts?

The hon. Lady has a later question on the Order Paper that I am looking forward to answering. I agree with her that business support is a supplement and not a substitute. It is, however, an extremely valuable supplement, and one that is growing considerably.

When the right hon. Gentleman addresses business men—I hope that he will address them soon in Greater Manchester—will he emphasise the real spin-off that exists for business, since areas that become areas of cultural excellence attract staff of equal excellence?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. There have been tremendous advances in Manchester in business sponsorship of the arts. This sponsorship has been a tremendous success in the past year.

Would there not be some considerable value, not only in continued appeals for business sponsorship by the right hon. Gentleman, but in a special appeal, in a particularly cold climate, to local authorities to defend and, indeed, to extend their cultural activities to offset some of the social and economic damage caused by the Government?

The hon. Gentleman, most uncharacteristically, slightly exaggerates his case. The Government have done nothing to damage the arts and have supported them in difficult economic circumstances as generously as any reasonable man could expect. I hope that local authorities will continue to support the arts. I hope that they will not discriminate against the arts. That is the message that I try to give them.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what advice he provides to arts organisations which are looking for business sponsorships.

I have just published a new booklet of guidance to smaller arts organisations about sponsorship proposals, and also a new edition of an earlier booklet issued by my predecessor. Both give advice that I hope will be widely read and acted upon. I shall send my hon. Friend a copy.

Will my right hon. Friend accept warm congratulations for this positive step to enhance sponsorship of the arts? May I direct his attention to Mr. Horn, who is the chairman of the patrons and associates of Manchester city art galleries, and who does an excellent job? Does my right hon. Friend agree that this sort of impact on the arts is the pattern to be followed?

Yes. Manchester city art gallery was one of the first in the field, and I endorse what my hon. Friend says. I have noticed a demand by smaller arts organisations for advice on making an approach to business. I hope that the booklet will be helpful. I shall bring it to their attention wherever possible.