HC Deb 28 November 1968 vol 774 cc714-5
31 and 32. Mr. Channon

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what is his policy in regard to financial support for the smaller ballet companies;

(2) if he will take steps to provide more assistance to ballet outside the London area.

Miss Lee

During 1967–8, ballet companies receiving subsidies from the Arts Council gave nearly 1,300 performances. Over 900 of these were outside the London area.

To assist them in determining future policy, the Arts Council set up in 1966 a Committee of Inquiry into Opera and Ballet. Its report is likely to be published early next year.

Mr. Channon

Would the right hon. Lady agree that it is disturbing to learn that grants are being withdrawn from some of the smaller ballet companies which do many performances outside London? Will she look at this matter to make sure that as a result ballet performances outside London do not diminish?

Miss Lee

I am anxious to see the maximum opportunities outside London, but I would be alarmed if a political Minister were to be the judge in these matters. I am bound to accept the decisions that are made by experts.

Dr. Gray

Will my right hon. Friend insist that, as a condition of grants, ballet companies should undertake regional tours away from the centres in which they usually perform?

Miss Lee

I have given the figures, 900 performances out of 1,300, which show that a great deal of this is being done. We are anxious to stimulate still more activity, but we are at the same time concerned to maintain very high standards.