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Regional Funding: Arts and Culture

Volume 626: debated on Thursday 29 June 2017

The Government want everyone to have the best access to arts and culture, wherever they live. That is why I am delighted that 60% of the national portfolio organisation funding announced by the Arts Council this week and 75% of lottery funding from 2018 will be invested outside London.

May I begin by congratulating the hon. Gentleman on his first appearance on the Front Bench? He will know that austerity has forced midlands local authorities to cut spending on culture, so Arts Council England’s announcement that it is investing extra money outside London is very welcome and I am delighted that it will support City Arts, Primary, Dance4, Nottingham Playhouse and other organisations in our city, which the Minister is welcome to visit.

European Union funding has also been transformational —I do not think that Nottingham Contemporary could have been built without it—so will the Government guarantee to replace that regional support for the arts when Britain leaves the EU?

The Government see the value of collaboration in arts and culture funding. She is right to point out that this week’s announcement is excellent news for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. I will do all I can, working with the chief executive and chairman of the Arts Council, to ensure that the sector’s priorities are addressed across this country.

I warmly welcome the new Minister to his place. What advice does he have for smaller regional museums such as Congleton Museum, which has an exciting expansion opportunity for which it needs to secure grant funding?

Congleton Museum has already done extremely well to be awarded £65,000 to buy the hoards of Cheshire. There are a number of grants available and I would be happy to work with my hon. Friend and any other Member and give advice on how to secure those funds.

Ashfield, like many former coalfield constituencies, receives way below the average in lottery funding. Is not it time that the lottery publish not just how much money it spends in each constituency, but how many tickets are purchased in each constituency, so that we can see whether the poorest areas are subsidising the richest?

I am extremely grateful to the hon. Lady for that interesting point. I will be happy to discuss it further with her and see if we can move that forward.

I welcome this week’s announcement of more funding for the arts and museums largely in Nottingham city, but did the Minister hear me mention this week the potential for a mining museum in my constituency of Mansfield? Will he meet me to help us further celebrate that heritage and culture and see whether we can make progress on that?

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place and congratulate him on his election to the House. I gently point out that seven of the new joiners in Nottinghamshire are outside the city itself, but I will be happy to meet him to discuss what can be done to assist him in his plans.

I very much welcome the Arts Council’s decision to increase funding outside London, but the Minister must be aware that many brilliant institutions such as the People’s History Museum are primarily dependent on local authorities for funding. Will he consider following the Arts Council’s lead and give us back some of the money that has been slashed from local authority budgets, so that we can start to fund again some of this country’s most innovative cultural institutions?

I listened very carefully to the hon. Lady. Of course, some local authorities do see the value of investing in arts and culture and make a massive contribution, alongside the Arts Council grants, to extending their footprint, but I am happy to look into the case that she raises.

The Minister will be aware that Doorstep Arts is a home-grown theatre and arts company resident at the Palace theatre in Paignton and has just become the first organisation in Torbay to be part of the Arts Council’s national portfolio. Will he join me in welcoming that and the £382,000 of funding that it will receive from the Arts Council over the next four years as a result?

I shall be delighted to do so, and I would be happy to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency to see some of the excellent work that he has been doing with the tourism sector.