HC Deb 18 December 1995 vol 268 cc1214-5
9. Lady Olga Maitland

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what assessment she has made of the effects of the overall funding provision for national heritage, with special reference to the arts. [4643]

Mr. Sproat

The areas covered by my Department are being funded on an unprecedented scale. The lottery has increased the amount available for the arts by some £224 million, more than doubling the amount provided previously.

Lady Olga Maitland

I thank my hon. Friend for the excellent news. The arts have done extremely well. Not only does the Arts Council provide £186 million but the national lottery provides nearly £200 million. Will my hon. Friend deal with the problem of donations to the arts from the national lottery? The arts can receive money for capital costs but not for revenue costs, so an orchestra can receive resources for a trombone but not funding for the conductor.

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend is right. As well as the £186 million which the Arts Council of England will receive—there are other grants for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—local authorities pour millions of pounds into the arts, as does the national lottery. My hon. Friend makes an important point about revenue costs which many people in the arts and sport would like to see resolved. My right hon. Friend and I are looking at how the lottery spends its money to see what can be done.

Mr. Cohen

May I suggest that the Minister view the annual London lecture given by Jeremy Isaacs of the Royal Opera house and broadcast on Carlton television yesterday? Mr. Isaacs said that, because of a shortage of public funds for the arts in London, standards were beginning to slip. Will the Minister start to put some funds back into the arts in London?

Mr. Sproat

Of all the people who could complain about arts funding in London, the man who has just received some £55 million for the Royal Opera house is hardly the one to do it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) said, we are putting £186 million into the Arts Council, and more than £200 million will go to the arts through the national lottery. We are also putting money into the arts through local councils. So the arts, which receive almost £700 million a year in London and elsewhere, do not have too much cause for complaint.

Mr. Jessel

Should not the tickets purchased by audiences be regarded as part of overall arts funding? As last month the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £3 billion extra in purchasing power in people's pockets, why do not the arts bodies set out to attract a substantial part of that increase, which is 600 times as large as the marginal cut in the Arts Council's budget?

Mr. Sproat

My hon. Friend's question is as sensible as his playing the other day at that concert was marvellous. No one who heard him as the soloist in Schumann's piano concerto will forget it. He was wonderful. What he says is right. Perhaps I may take the opportunity to say that it is not only a matter of tickets; sponsorship by business of the arts is about £82 million this year, which is not a bad contribution.

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