To ask the Minister for the Arts what proportion of the Arts Council grant in 1991–92 has been allocated to the north-west of England; and if he will make a statement.
The Arts Council grant to Merseyside Arts and North West Arts and its own estimated direct spending in the region amount to nearly £9·5 million. This represents 4·9 per cent. of the total Arts Council grant.
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the importance of the Arts Council grant to many of the cultural activities of the north-west. It is especially important to our orchestras, such as the Hallé and the Royal Liverpool philharmonic. Has my right hon. Friend any plans to assist the Royal Liverpool philharmonic with its ambitious project to expand and with its original costs, incurred by its taking over a new building in the centre of Liverpool?
I have met the chairman of the Hallé, and I know about its ambition to have its own concern hall in Manchester. That will require a good deal of money, but I hope that it will manage to raise considerable sponsorship, together with some support from the Arts Council. The appeal for the Royal Liverpool philharmonic is going well. I was delighted to be able to launch it some months ago. I hope that the Royal Liverpool philharmonic will soon have a redecorated home, and that the Hallé will have a new one.