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Arts Council England

Volume 475: debated on Monday 12 May 2008

8. If he will make a statement on the activities of Arts Council England in Wirral, South constituency. (204455)

Arts Council England’s activities in Wirral, South include funding through the Grants for the Arts programme, Creative Partnerships, Artsmark and the Arts Award scheme. I realise that this is a trip through the tunnel, but Arts Council England’s investment in the wider region also includes major organisations, such as the Liverpool Philharmonic and the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres.

It is indeed a trip through the tunnel. The Minister’s answer highlights the fact that, notwithstanding the refocusing of Arts Council England’s funding, it tends to go to major facilities in sub-regional or regional centres. Does the Arts Council not need also to focus on areas outside those centres, and on local communities and suburban areas in particular?

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend’s remarks. When I was preparing for this question, I asked which applications from his constituency had been received and turned down by Arts Council England, and I was told that none had. I was further told that although the Big Lottery Fund has given £1.5 million to his constituency over the past 12 months, with a much higher success rate for applications than elsewhere, it is nevertheless trying actively to encourage more applications. I urge him to work with voluntary, community and other arts organisations to encourage more such applications from his constituents.