HC Deb 30 January 1995 vol 253 c666
2. Mr. Rooney

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what discussions he has had with the Yorkshire and Humberside regional arts board about improving arts opportunities and facilities for the disabled.

Mr. Sproat

The Government are committed to access to the arts for people with disabilities—as members of audiences, as performers and as employees. My Department works with the Arts Council in pursuit of that objective and the council liaises closely with individual regional arts boards.

Mr. Rooney

I thank the Minister for that reply, but does not he consider the work of Access for Disabled People to Arts Premises Today as extremely important and very good value for money? In those terms, does he agree that its grant of £43,000 last year was miserable?

Mr. Sproat

I agree that the work of the ADAPT trust is extremely important. Its grant last year went up by 10 per cent., which is something for which we should all be grateful.

Mr. Chris Smith

The Minister cannot be proud, however, of the fact that many arts facilities in Yorkshire, Humberside and elsewhere are not, as yet, fully accessible to disabled people. Nor can he be proud of the fact that the disability unit within the Arts Council was ended last year, as a direct result of Government cuts. Will he now give a guarantee that when the ADAPT grant comes up for renewal in June of this year, it will at the very least be kept at this year's level?

Mr. Sproat

I look forward to hearing what the various members of the trust have to say about the grant; we shall consider that on its merits. What the Arts Council did with its unit was entirely a matter for the council itself. It decided that, instead of one unit examining the issue of disability in the arts, all its departments should consider the issue. That is what is now happening, and I think it a very sensible way to proceed.