HC Deb 15 February 1988 vol 127 cc698-9
42. Mr. Boateng

To ask the Minister for the Arts how many black artists and companies received financial support from the Arts Council in each of the past five years.

Mr. Luce

The arts present an opportunity for multiracial activities. Records held by the Arts Council do not differentiate between grants given to black and to Asian artists and companies. Records are incomplete, but suggest a substantial increase from about 10 in 1983–84 to 64 in 1987–88.

Mr. Boateng

I am much obliged to the Minister for his answer. He will be well aware of the good work done by organisations such as the Minority Arts Advisory Service and theatres such as Temba and Tara. Does he share with me a concern to ensure that the Arts Council's target figure of 4 per cent. of total funding is met by some of our great national institutions and by the regional art associations? Will the right hon. Gentleman accordingly agree to publish in the Library the results of the survey being conducted by the Arts Council?

Mr. Luce

If the hon. Gentleman will take this in good heart, I should just say, before I answer his question more fully, that I observed his artistic performances at the weekend, and I think that there is plenty of room for artistic improvement in his work.

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, it is right that the Arts Council has agreed to devote up to 4 per cent. of its expenditure to supporting ethnic art. This year it is devoting about £750,000 to supporting cultural ethnic minority art.

Mr. Hayward

I thank my right hon. Friend for his earlier answer. May I encourage him to keep records and to award money merely on the basis of merit, and on no other basis?

Mr. Luce

My hon. Friend is right. There is a great variety of culture to be encouraged. The more it is encouraged, the more it enriches cultural life.