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Theatre Funding (Leicester)

Volume 130: debated on Monday 28 March 1988

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To ask the Minister for the Arts whether he will discuss with the Arts Council the level of funding for the theatre in Leicester.

I regret the Minister's lack of plans. Will he pay tribute to the work of the Haymarket theatre in Leicester and to its resilience, especially in supporting and encouraging new writing, and its successful efforts towards meeting its deficits through its plays, which are sent on to the West End stage? Will the right hon. Gentleman provide some assurance of long-term adequate funding for this tremendously useful and excellent theatre?

I, too, should like to acknowledge the Haymarket theatre's enterprise. I am glad that the Arts Council, the city council and the county council are undertaking constructive negotiations on its long-term future and funding. It is only right that we should look to theatres to raise resources from the private sector as well. I am looking for more self-reliance by arts organisations.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should look to those who claim constantly that there is widespread support for the arts in Leicester and elsewhere and that those who want and support the arts should pay for them? Does my right hon. Friend not think it high time that the hard-pressed taxpayer was relieved of this constant burden of the arts and that those who claim that the arts have widespread support were asked to pay a greater contribution more directly?

I have introduced the concept of incentive funding so that taxpayers' money can be used to reward those who are capable of becoming more self-reliant. That is at the heart of our policies.