§ 34. Mr. Janner
asked the Minister for the Arts when he next proposes to make an official visit to the Haymarket and Phoenix theatres in Leicester.
§ The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Richard Luce)
I would like to visit Leicester again before too long.
§ Mr. Janner
I hope that the Minister will come back to Leicester so that he has the opportunity to pay tribute to the excellence of Leicester city council in promoting the 644 arts, and to the work of the Haymarket and Phoenix theatres, which is in jeopardy because of the cuts in the value of the Arts Council grant last year and uncertainty in the future. Will the Minister offer some hope of continuity and permanence in the work of those great Midlands theatres?
§ Mr. Luce
I know very well the reputation of the Phoenix and Haymarket theatres. That is one reason why I look forward to coming to Leicester again.
The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to a cut in grant. He may like to know that there was, in fact, an increase in the Arts Council grant to the Haymarket theatre of 25 per cent. in two years. That does not imply a cut. The support for the theatre has increased in real terms, which shows that the Arts Council values the work of the theatre in Leicester.
§ Mr. Jessel
Does my right hon. Friend consider that it would be good for the theatre in Leicester and in other provincial centres if the Arts Council did more to promote the work of touring companies?
§ Mr. Luce
My hon. Friend asked about touring companies. He has pointed to something very important—the need for more touring to strengthen the arts in all parts of the country. I am glad that the Arts Council has now established an independent production company, for which it will provide one third of the investment required. The rest will come from the private sector. In return, the Arts Council will promote up to six new touring productions a year. That will certainly benefit the country.