HC Deb 23 May 1994 vol 244 cc1-2
1. Ms Lynne

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what representations he has received regarding arts funding in the north-west.

The Secretary of State for National Heritage (Mr. Peter Brooke)

I received a number of letters when the Arts Council made its allocations for 1994–95 to regional arts boards.

Ms Lynne

Is the Secretary of State aware that the Hallé orchestra in Manchester is facing financial difficulties? Is not it ironic that, just when the Arts Council is encouraging that orchestra to be more artistically ambitious, its funding should be cut? Does he think that more money could be made available, in recognition not only of the orchestra's excellent music but of its services to children with special educational needs?

Mr. Brooke

The Arts Council's decision in relation to the Hallé was a matter for the council; but I am conscious that the council has conducted an internal review of regional orchestras and that the whole council has considered the matter.

Mr. Dickens

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that, throughout the north-west, we have not only excellent orchestras but excellent music societies, opera societies, choirs, brass bands and many talented artists? Can those people expect to get some money from the national lottery?

Mr. Brooke

I join my hon. Friend's tributes to the musical qualities of the north-west. As for the national lottery, it will be up to organisations to bid, and it will then be for the Arts Council, if bids come to it, to decide whether they are within its terms of reference and acceptable.

Mr. Barry Jones

Does the Secretary of State know that the Under-Secretary made a good impression when he recently attended a performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra? Bearing in mind the excellence and world standing of that great orchestra—I should declare my life membership of the Philharmonic Society—may I persuade the right hon. Gentleman to allocate about £500,000 to enable the orchestra to get out of a rather sticky financial situation? The right hon. Gentleman should also remember that next year it must perform in the Liverpool Anglican cathedral.

Mr. Brooke

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary always makes a good impression. As for the allocation of £500,000, would that I were so rich! I am delighted with what has happened in respect of the Philharmonic hall. I am conscious that the orchestra will be moving into the cathedral during the closure of the hall, and I hope that that time goes well.

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