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Urban Regeneration

Volume 459: debated on Monday 16 April 2007

The role of culture in regeneration has recently been strengthened by a joint agreement signed by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, the Department for Communities and Local Government and a number of non-departmental public bodies.

During the Easter recess I visited Dot To Dot, a community arts project in my constituency. It has a good record of involving the community in its projects. A lot of its work is done with mosaics; it gets people from the community to put the tiles together, and it has found that when the mosaics are put up, there is a significant reduction in vandalism and graffiti. Does my hon. Friend agree that, when there is community ownership of that kind, we get the best out of cultural projects in urban regeneration?

My hon. Friend’s constituency has some real deprivation and culture is making a positive contribution, particularly at the Making Space centre in Leigh Park in Havant. We have moved forward from the days when culture was not on the table when planning and housing developments were under way. I look forward to visiting her constituency over the coming months to see what is happening there.

We are blessed in Crewe with a live theatre housed in an Edwardian gem. Does the Minister agree that what we really need is a little flair in connecting the theatres and the arts movement in the north-west, so that we can get some of the benefits of having so many bright people in the region, and can use them outside the large urban areas?

My hon. Friend will know that there has been an increase in funding to the arts of 73 per cent., and the lion’s share of that funding from the Arts Council has gone on theatre. I am happy to look into the theatre infrastructure in her area and into the wider arts community to see what more can be done with the Arts Council.