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Arts Funding

Volume 456: debated on Monday 29 January 2007

8. What discussions she has had with the Treasury on the financial settlement for the arts in the 2007 comprehensive spending review. (111459)

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. [Laughter.] I am sure that there is more to come.

I was at an Arts Council training event in Bradford last Monday, with representatives of a variety of west Yorkshire-based arts organisations, who were extremely concerned about the 2007-08 spending review. May I ask the Minister to make the point, when he has discussions with our right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that investment in the arts brings social regeneration, tourism, job creation and community pride, and that a pound spent on the arts is a pound well spent?

I thank my hon. Friend for that and make it clear that, across the House, we all understand the real contribution that arts and culture have made to regeneration throughout the country. If we look at cities such as Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow—

And Sheffield. If we consider such cities, the arts have made a tremendous contribution, as they have in schools, with creative partnerships touching the lives of many young people. I hope that it is understood, and certainly we continue to make the case to colleagues in the Treasury, that the work that we have been doing over the past few years has huge benefits throughout the country.

Is the Minister aware that the British Library, for one, is acutely concerned about its future? Will he give the House an assurance that he will fight hard to ensure that the greatest library in the world is not jeopardised by a very miserly settlement such as is being threatened at the moment?

The hon. Gentleman is right: the British Library is a No. 1 institution in the world. It has made huge efforts over the past few years to modernise; it has been pivotal in the digital revolution that we are experiencing in this country and in ensuring that all the records in its keep are online for people not only in this country, but throughout the world. It has been very helpful in our negotiations with the Treasury and has provided us with very useful information. I am pleased to be going to the British Library on Wednesday.

Last Friday, I visited the Wilbury Way primary school in my constituency to see the work being carried out by creative partnerships: a partnership between primary schools and community arts organisations to develop learning among young people. Will my hon. Friend do everything that he can to persuade the Chancellor of the efficacy of such arts projects, which provide learning opportunities to our youngest pupils?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that question. The Chancellor has been able to see the Ofsted report on creative partnerships, which demonstrated that the programme is not just successful in relation to the arts but in increasing attainment across the school curriculum because of the benefits provided by creativity. My hon. Friend spotlights a programme that is valued in the schools in which it operates, which are mostly in deprived areas. That programme has touched the lives of pupils in more than 3,000 schools across the country.