HC Deb 05 July 1982 vol 27 cc16-7
37. Mr. Freud

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to his answer to the hon.

Member for Isle of Ely on 9 March, Official Report, c. 382, what supporrt he gave to National Arts Day; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Channon

This was organised by a group of private individuals. I sent them a message of support, attended the press conference they organised on the day and a number of other events.

Mr. Freud

While that is clearly a welcome and auspicious beginning, will the Minister consider throwing even more weight, and possibly even some money, behind next year's effort? Does he not agree that if we can afford a goose ecologist in the Falkland Islands, it might be a good idea to have a centrally funded National Arts Day coordinator in Britain?

Mr. Channon

If there is genuine public demand for that, there is much sense in what the hon. Gentleman says. On the other hand, if the whole thing is a waste of time it would be a mistake to encourage it any further.

Mr. Jessel

Was not National Arts Day a gigantic flop that failed to have any impact? If it cannot be better run, would it not be better to drop it?

Mr. Channon

It should be better run or dropped. I am not criticising the organisers, but it should either be more centrally organised and have some impact, or it should be abandoned. I should welcome views on the matter and hope to discuss the matter with some of the organisers in the near future.

Mr. Blackburn

On reflection, does my right hon. Friend agree that National Arts Day did for the arts what Larry Grayson has done for rugby football? Will he give an undertaking not to become involved in National Arts Day unless it is better organised? Is my right hon. Friend aware that few hon. Members, including the Conservative Party arts and heritage committee, had any knowledge of National Arts Day?

Mr. Channon

I sense that in some quarters of the House National Arts Day was not regarded as a howling success. I shall bear that in mind.