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Regional Facilities

Volume 87: debated on Monday 18 November 1985

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asked the Minister for the Arts if he is satisfied that sufficient resources are being made available for the extensions of facilities for the arts in the regions.

It is for the Arts Council to allocate its funds, taking due account of the needs of arts bodies, and the contribution of local authorities. I have every confidence in the council's regional development strategy as set out in "The Glory of the Garden", and the grant for 1986–87 which I announced on 14 November will enable it to continue. The £3 million development money allocated by the council in the current year has, I am pleased to say, already generated more than £2 million additional local funding.

Does the Minister support councils such as Burnley borough council, which is converting the Mechanics building in Burnley to a theatre and a multipurpose arts centre? Will he give that council financial support? Is he aware that it seems that present Government policy will penalise Burnley once it has converted the building and has to meet the revenue costs?

I know of the hon. Gentleman's keen interest in the Burnley Mechanics Institute Theatre project, but, as he knows, it is now Arts Council policy not to support capital expenditure of the kind that he has described. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look not just to local authorities, but to private sponsorship as well, to help in this connection.

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Given the importance of my question No. 5 and the indequate reply from the Secretary of State, I should like to give notice that I intend to raise the matter on the Adjournment.