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The Arts

Volume 181: debated on Monday 26 November 1990

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Enhancement Fund

29.

To ask the Minister for the Arts what criteria he will employ when distributing his new enhancement fund.

The enhancement fund will help arts organisations to enhance the quality of their output and management. I have asked the Arts Council to propose criteria that will achieve those objectives.

The Minister will be aware of the concern that the fund will not be used to help smaller regional theatres. What reassurance can he give to theatres such as the New Victoria theatre in my constituency, which has operated for the past four years on a subsidy grant less than that agreed by the Arts Council?

The hon. Lady will understand that I mean no disrespect to that theatre when I say that I cannot comment specifically on it. The fund represents moneys that were made available to meet the needs of the hour. They are not confined to the great national companies but include the needs of local companies. I hope that the Arts Council will propose a range of uses of the enhancement fund that will meet local and national needs.

May I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury most warmly on their remarkable achievement in substantially increasing the overall amount of money for the arts which demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to the arts? Will my right hon. and learned Friend clarify and make it quite plain that one objective of the imaginative enhancement fund is to make it easier for the Arts Council to channel more money to arts bodies that provide art of the highest quality?

My right hon. Friend is an extremely hard act to follow. This year's good settlement merely follows on from his tremendous efforts during his five years as Minister for the Arts, culminating in last year's settlement. The aim of the enhancement fund is to enhance the activities of excellent companies. It is not confined to companies that have run up deficits.

When the Minister first announced the enhancement fund he said that he would take a close look at the proposals. Does his close look constitute a different approach to the arm's length principle from that of previous Ministers for the Arts?

No, it certainly does not. In previous years my right hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) very properly top-sliced certain sums of money for particular uses. For instance, there was an incentive fund of £5 million and my right hon. Friend made provision for an additional £3 million this year for different sorts of incentive schemes. Because of present needs, it is right that there should be an enhancement fund, but I do not propose to enter into the details of its distribution. If, however, I obtain money from the Treasury on the basis that there are needs to be met, I am entitled to examine whether those needs have been met.

I do not believe that the arm's-length principle means that Ministers should resemble the Frankenstein monster, although some may see a comparison, with life breathed into one in September to argue with the Treasury in October, to announce the provision of money in November and then to go back to sleep again in December for eight months. My duty is to ensure that the arts are safeguarded by the proper distribution of funds.

I, too, congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on an excellent settlement. May I thank him for his approach to arts matters? Will he confirm that both the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera house will be eligible for further assistance from the fund?

They will certainly be eligible, but we shall have to await the Arts Council's deliberations.

Appointments

30.

To ask the Minister for the Arts how many appointments he has personally approved since assuming his responsibilities as Minister for the Arts.

Twelve, Sir. Seven were for the British Film Institute, including the reappointment of Sir Richard Attenborough as chairman. Four were for the Crafts Council. The other was for the British museum.

I am certain that the Minister has backed the winner in the leadership contest for the Conservative party. When the goodies are handed out, will he impress upon the new Prime Minister the need to have the Minister for the Arts in the Cabinet? The right hon. and learned Gentleman would enjoy that, and the arts world would benefit from it. Now that the lady has almost gone and we can talk freely among ourselves again, will he drop the absurd Thatcherite obsession with attacking local authorities? Will he make it clear that when he makes appointments to the regional arts boards he will keep up the number of local authority nominees?

I had the winner yesterday afternoon. I hope that I have got the winner tomorrow as well. The status of the Minister for the Arts will be a matter for the new Prime Minister. As for appointments to the regional arts boards, I have had a number of constructive meetings with local authority representatives. Our wish is that there should be a strong local authority presence, nominated by local authorities, on the regional arts boards. The fact that one third of the places are reserved for local authorities is a sign of the importance that we attach to an arts funding partnership with the local authorities.

As those appointed to arts bodies can make good use of the excellent increase in the funding obtained by my right hon. and learned Friend, may I, too, congratulate not only him but the whole of the Government team at the Treasury, led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it is due partly to his support and firm encouragement that the arts are able to benefit in this way?

On appointments, will the Minister confirm that every single regional arts association has written to him, protesting in the strongest possible terms against the proposal in his letter to the chairman of the Arts Council that he personally should appoint the chairs of the new regional arts boards? Does a single person or a single arts body support the Minister in this extraordinary centralist move? Will he withdraw it?

The jury before which the proposals have to be judged is not composed of the regional associations as they are now constituted. We have to try to ensure, in accordance with various reports—including those of Committees of this House—that there is proper accountability for moneys that are spent. The money spent by the regional arts boards is overwhelmingly Treasury-obtained finance, although we also maintain a sense of regional ownership and the partnership with local authorities. The hon. Gentleman should await the deliberations of Tim Mason's committee, as I shall.

What is absolutely clear is that I will not shrink from establishing a framework that is, to my mind, consistent with ensuring that the bodies to be transferred—if, indeed, they are to be transferred; most do not want to be under the existing arrangements—can be reassured that the new structures will be strong enough to bear the weight of the evaluations needed for them. That is the important point. It has nothing to do with amour-propre and who appoints whom; it has to do with how we can best enhance the quality of artistic life in this country.

31.

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will list all appointments made by him to arts bodies in the last year.

Yes, Sir. I have arranged for the list to be published in the Official Report.

Does the Minister accept that much of this country's activity is ridiculously overcentralised and that it is time that we brought some democracy into arts appointments? Should not there be guaranteed places for local authority members appointed by their local authorities, rather than by the Minister? Does he further accept that the minority ethnic communities and user groups of arts centres and theatres should be able to appoint and elect people to arts authorities, rather than the Minister's sitting in splendid isolation in London deciding who should be the members of every regional arts authority?

That prompts the large question, whether the quality of the people appointed in such a way would ultimately be any better. I am closer to the hon. Gentleman than he recognises. I have already proposed that one third of the membership of regional arts boards should be local authority representatives.

Hang on a minute. I am coming to that. I got the point the first time, although I do not always.

We are asking the local authority associations to find a way of proposing a mechanism so that they can determine

Institution

Position

Name of Appointee

Appointed

Advisory Committee on the Government Art CollectionMemberMr. R. Shone30 July 1990
Arts CouncilMembersMs. B. Anderson1 April 1990
Mr. E. Hall1 April 1990
Miss C. Mulholland1 April 1990
Professor Sir Alan T. Peacock1 April 1990
Sir Brian N. R. Rix1 April 1990
Mr. A. Smith1 April 1990
Professor C. St. John Wilson1 April 1990
British Film InstituteChairmanSir Richard S. Attenborough1 October 1990
GovernorsMrs. B. Anderson1 October 1990
Mr. T. Clarke1 October 1990
Ms. B. Ferris1 October 1990
Ms. P. Hoon1 October 1990
Mr. R. G. Hughes1 October 1990
Mr. A. Sapper1 October 1990
British Library BoardChairmanCommander L. M. Saunders-Watson19 March 1990
MembersThe Lord Adrian1 May 1990
Professor A. J. Forty1 April 1990
Mr. D. A. E. R. Peake1 July 1990
Mr. R. E. Utiger1 May 1990
British MuseumTrusteeProfessor C. Renfrew19 October 1990
Crafts CouncilMembersMr. A. H. Doggart11 October 1990
Mr. J. Jones11 October 1990
Mr. J. Newton11 October 1990
Professor D. Vaughan11 October 1990
Greater Manchester Museum of Science and IndustryChairmanMr. A. Goldstone27 January 1990
Library and Information Services CouncilMembersMr. S. A. Brewer1 January 1990
Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey Bart1 January 1990
Councillor C. Heinitz1 January 1990
Mr. C. J. Koster1 January 1990
Mr. D. Leabeater1 January 1990
Mrs. S. I. Martin1 January 1990
National Museums and Galleries on MerseysideTrusteesProfessor G. J. Davies1 January 1990
Mr. J. Entwistle1 April 1990
Mr. A. Swerdlow1 April 1990
Lady Vaizey1 April 1990
Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of ArtMembersMr. G. Jackson-Stops1 August 1990
Dr. J. I. R. Montagu1 August 1990
Mr. A. G. Reynolds1 January 1990
South Bank BoardChairman designateSir Brian Corby11 June 1990
Theatres TrustChairmanSir David L. Crouch6 April 1990
TrusteesMr. I. Albery6 April 1990
Baroness Birk6 April 1990
Mr. G. L. Harbottle6 April 1990
Mr. R. M. Marshall6 April 1990

Private Sponsorship

32.

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement about the growth in private sponsorship in the arts since 1983–84.

who goes on to boards. I am anxious that there should be a proper partnership with local authorities, with the minimum amount of trouble and fuss.

Following is the information:

Business sponsorship of the arts now stands at over £30 million a year, more than double the level in 1983–84. Much of this growth is due to the Government's highly successful business sponsorship incentive scheme.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that that dramatic increase is welcomed by everyone connected with the arts? Does he further accept that many Conservative Members prefer privately funded to publicly funded generosity?

I hope that most of my hon. Friends— indeed, most Members of the House—believe that a balance must be struck. I appreciate that I will never convince at least one of my hon. Friends—I am more hopeful about others—that we want substantial private contributions, although I am firmly committed to a strong level of Government funding. I hope that that level will increase year on year, which is what we managed to achieve this year.