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Arts Council (London and Croydon)

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

Arts Council England is able to supply figures for only the first three quarters of 2010-11, as the financial year is not yet complete. From 1 April 2010 to 1 December 2010, London received total funding, including lottery and grant in aid, of £191.4 million. Croydon received total funding of just over £210,000.

I hope that my hon. Friend will agree that that is a pitiful share of the total London budget for London’s largest borough. Neither the Fairfield Halls arts complex, nor the London Mozart Players, one of our best chamber orchestras, gets any funding. Will he talk to Arts Council England about why it is pursuing a zone 1 policy so beloved of the former Mayor of London?

I hear what my hon. Friend says and I commend him on his work, particularly with the Croydon Art Society. I know that the London director of the Arts Council met the director of culture in Croydon in January, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that the arms-length principle means that Ministers cannot interfere in the Arts Council’s funding decisions.

I went to an event that was sponsored by a number of organisations funded by the Arts Council in London, where I saw the work of a group of young people who, through the future jobs fund, were apprenticing themselves to organisations such as the Royal Opera House and other cultural bodies in London. They are coming to present what they have learned through their experience to the House of Commons in a couple of weeks and I wondered whether the Minister would come and listen to them along with the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, who has already accepted my invitation.