To ask the Minister for the Arts how many (a) visits and (b) residencies of photographers in schools were financed by the Arts Council in the last year for which statistics are available.
Detailed information on this subject is not held centrally. The information that is available shows that at least 151 visits and eight residencies of photographers in schools were financed by the Arts Council and the regional arts associations in 1986–87.
:I think the Minister agrees that these visits and residencies should be encouraged. We are all pleased at his continuing contribution to and encouragement of photography but does he agree that even more can be done? Can he find more money within his budget to give to the Arts Council so that there can be more visits and residencies? If he cannot, will he look for a bit of creative accountancy and find out whether there can be some burseries from his Department to encourage more photographers to carry out these exercises?
I do not under-estimate the importance of photography, in which the public have a growing interest. The hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that the Arts Council and the regional arts associations have a limited sum of money and various priorities to determine, and it must be up to them to decide how to disburse that money. I am glad to learn that some regional authorities are promoting a closer interest between photography and education; for example, the North-West arts association held a seminar on that matter last week.