HC Deb 07 March 1994 vol 239 cc7-8
9. Mr. Brandreth

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what support he is giving to the voluntary arts; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Sproat

I fully recognise the great range and quality of voluntary arts activity in this country and the vital contribution that it makes to our cultural life. Government funding of the arts is channelled through the Arts Council, and I note that it is providing financial support for the Voluntary Arts Network, which was established in 1991 as a national umbrella body for amateur arts organisations.

Mr. Brandreth

Is my hon. Friend aware that public funding of sports participation runs at about twice the level of public funding for participation in the voluntary arts—£25 compared with £11 per head? Does he agree with the network's aim of redressing that imbalance while encouraging greater participation in the voluntary arts?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. A document recently produced by the Voluntary Arts Network, "Strengthening Foundations", headed the section on sport A useful but not exact analogy". It is a useful analogy, and we will consider it. I take this opportunity to salute the excellent work done by Sir Richard Luce, Mr. Peter Stark and my hon. Friend in promoting volunteer arts.

Mr. Enright

Does the Minister agree that investment in the voluntary arts brings a far better return than investment in commercial arts, such as the £200,000 that the Department lost to Unicorn Heritage plc, not to mention the huge amount of taxation that was given back to some of the company's investors?

Mr. Sproat

It is extremely important to support both the voluntary and the professional arts. Unicorn Heritage plc was treated no differently from any other company finding itself in the same circumstances.

Sir Anthony Durant

Will my hon. Friend comment on work on the Albert memorial? Will some money be spent on that?

Mr. Sproat

Yes, money will be spent—but that matter arises in a later question.

Madam Speaker

That is quite right.