Skip to main content

Arts Council Funding

Volume 572: debated on Thursday 12 December 2013

9. What steps she is taking to reduce differences in Arts Council funding spent in London and the regions. (901611)

Arts Council England makes its funding decisions independently of Government, but it must take care to ensure all areas of the country have access to its funding. We have discussed this with the Arts Council and continue to do so, and the Arts Council has indicated that a priority in its forthcoming investment round will be to achieve a better balance from public funding and lottery investment across the country.

The Minister might be aware of the recent report, “Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital”, which stated that in 2012-13, £69 per head was spent in London while £4.60 per head was spent in the English regions. That represents a ratio of 15:1, which does not exist anywhere else in the world. How long will it take to get this fixed?

Well, the balance in lottery funding between the regions and London was 60:40 under the previous Government, and it has now gone up to 70:30. The Arts Council chairman is well aware of the issue and wants to go further. The Arts Council has set up the strategic touring programme and the creative people and places fund to help to rebalance arts funding in the regions, and our brilliant Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced proposals to support touring theatre with tax relief.

When this matter was last raised here, the Secretary of State seemed to imply that the answer was for London-based companies to do more touring, and the Minister has said that again. Do they not recognise that Londoners deserve to have the benefit of our great arts companies, such as Northern Stage, the Live Theatre and the Northern Sinfonia? If more touring by London companies is not the answer, what is?

As always, the hon. Lady makes a fantastically brilliant point. It is important to strike a balance. This is not just a matter of London organisations going out to “the regions”. I am very excited about more co-productions between, for example, the National Theatre and the regional theatres, to enable productions created in regional theatres to come to London so that we can get some of the fantastic benefits of the brilliant arts going on outside London.