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Slavery Abolition: Bicentenary

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support her Department has allocated to events marking the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade; and if she will make a statement. (144545)

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, together with the Department for Education and Skills, has given £925,000 to the Understanding Slavery Initiative, a partnership between the National Maritime Museum and a number of other cultural institutions which has been running since 2003-04, helping teachers to deal with the sensitive issue of slavery in the classroom.

The Department has also announced a £500,000 capital grant for the new International Slavery Museum (ISM) in Liverpool being developed by National Museums Liverpool. This funding builds on the £250,000 annual contribution to the ISM's running costs which the DCMS has already pledged. The ISM will replace the groundbreaking Transatlantic Slavery Gallery in the Merseyside Maritime Museum and will prove to be a magnificent new national institution and a worthy legacy of 2007.

The Department is principally working through the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to promote sector engagement in activities happening in 2007 and beyond.

MLA's Strategic Commissioning programme has supported a number of regional projects in 2007 between schools and museums and archives across the country. Organisations have worked with the MLA regional agencies to produce new learning resources’ including exhibitions and websites that draw on local stories about the impact of slavery.

All 41 Renaissance Hub museums have engaged in events and exhibitions to mark the bicentenary. For example, in October 2007 the museum in Docklands will open the only permanent gallery in London that examines the city's involvement in transatlantic slavery and its legacy in the capital.

The MLA Partnership will also be supporting sector and community engagement with the visit of the Amistad replica to England: London (1-12 August 2007), Liverpool (20-26 August 2007) and Bristol (29 August to 6 September 2007).

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded over £13 million to more than 140 projects related to the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade and the slave trade generally. In addition, HLF have given a grant of £10 million to Bristol city council for the Museum of Bristol: The People's Story, which will include a new gallery on Bristol and the slave trade.

Arts Council England has funded 44 projects related to the bicentenary, making grants totalling £1,234,549 so far this year.

The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) has so far committed £647,945 to projects looking at the bicentenary and modern forms of slavery. BLF has also set up the Abolition 200 website designed to let communities know about what is going on around the bicentenary, to develop project ideas, and to make links and look for funding.

The Department is also committed to ensuring a legacy from the bicentenary commemorations. We are working with MLA, ACE, HLF and the rest of the sector to improve the diversity of the staff employed by our museums and galleries, along with the audiences they reach.