HC Deb 30 April 1984 vol 59 cc17-8
24. Mr. Freud

asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State answering in respect of the Arts what is the per capita grant for each of the English regional arts associations.

Mr. Waldegrave

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall place a list of grants by the Arts Council of Great Britain in the Library.

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) is ingenious, I am sure that he will get in his supplementary question.

Mr. Freud

Had I been ingenious, I should have asked the Minister whether, having answered the question from the hon. Member for Chipping Barnett (Mr. Chapman), he would wish to revise his answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Mr. Murphy).

In respect of question 24, as there has been a new application of fertiliser across the garden of the theatre, does the Minister now realise that the concept of financial distribution to regional arts authorities is wrong in that it takes no account of growth, demographic movement or regional trends? Might this not be a good time to start again?

Mr. Waldegrave

In one sense the Arts Council is starting again. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the criteria that he mentioned were not used in the past. Money that has gone to support individual activities that are judged to be valuable has riot depended on the population or other criteria. Now that the Arts Council is moving into a new area, with more resources in the regions, I have no doubt that it will wish to consider such suggestions.

Mr. Buchan

As the Government intervened, before the Arts Council grants were made known, to earmark some funds for centres of excellence, especially in London, they thereby cut the total amount available, including the amount for the regions. Does that not mean that for the entire arts, except for the four centres of excellence, there has been a cut in grant provision to below the rate of inflation? That is the problem facing the regions.

Mr. Waldegrave

There are two objectives: the maintenance of the arts in the great metropolis—the original objectives set by Keynes—and the spreading of resources into the regions. The Arts Council is making room by difficult and, in some cases, unpalatable decisions elsewhere to give itself resources—not just next year but for many years—to provide more money to the regions direct and through the regional arts associations.