HC Deb 25 January 1988 vol 126 cc14-5
36. Mr. Caborn

To ask the Minister for the Arts when he next plans to visit the Crucible theatre in Sheffield.

Mr. Luce

I enjoyed my visit to the Crucible theatre in February last year and I admire the work it does.

Mr. Caborn

When the Minister next visits the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, will he take up the difficult financial position in which it finds itself, particularly after the statement by the Arts Council that over the next three to five years the parity of funding should be equal to that of the local authorities? With the restrictions on the local authorities, that is difficult, if not impossible. Will the Minister also take up the matter of clause 28 of the Local Government Bill, which is going through the Lords? Powerful statements were made last night by Ian McKellen at the Olivier awards, supported by the editor of The Observer. The Crucible is a civic theatre and it will be one of those affected by clause 28. In Sheffield it is seen as major censorship of a progressive theatre.

Mr. Luce

The evidence is that the Crucible is an enterprising theatre. A total of 60 per cent. of its resources is now raised from private sector earnings, and it deserves credit for that. It has 82 per cent. audiences on average, and has had throughout 1986 and 1987. It is a good candidate to negotiate an incentive funding arrangement between itself and the Arts Council and to take advantage of the three-year funding now available so that it can plan a stronger financial base in the next three years.