§ 8. Mr. Martin Linton (Battersea)
How the lottery reforms will benefit the performing arts. .
§ The Minister for the Arts (Mr. Mark Fisher)
The National Lottery Bill will radically reform the lottery, making the process easier for applicants, distributing grants faster and therefore more effectively, and ensuring that in future more is spent on supporting artists and activities, rather than just on bricks and mortar.
§ Mr. Linton
Is the Minister aware of pioneering schemes such as the ladder of development which has attracted a grant of £275,000 from the lottery's arts-for-everyone programme to the Battersea arts centre, an organisation which specialises in enabling young performing artists to get their feet on the first rung of the ladder? I should add that I am the chairman of that organisation. Has the Minister seen a letter from the director of Battersea arts centre to the Prime Minister congratulating him on the impact of the new deal on young performing artists, many of whom have in the past used the dole while getting on to that all important first rung of the ladder?
§ Mr. Fisher
My hon. Friend is quite right to state that Battersea arts centre is enormously resourceful in accessing lottery money. It has received £810 million for refurbishment and—
§ Mr. Fisher
Yes, £810,000—there is a slight difference. It has now also received a further grant for development. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the potential of the new deal for young artists at a crucial stage in their career. Young artists want a chance to work and to get their work in front of audiences. The Government are determined, through initiatives such as the new deal, to help them to do that.
§ Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)
As I am not persuaded by the argument that the introduction of a sixth good cause will not adversely affect the money going to the five existing good causes, including the performing arts, may I ask the Minister at least to monitor what happens? Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there is a need to help the performing arts institutions which, although not national institutions, are not regarded as regional institutions either—especially if they are in the outer London boroughs? The Old Bull arts centre in Barnet is a very good example of such an institution. It puts on some very good work, some of which, I understand, has recently fallen out of favour with new Labour.
§ Mr. Fisher
It is absolutely essential that the benefits of the lottery grants, and especially those for the arts, get to every part of the country, feed grass roots and community developments and bring on a new generation of artists and audiences. I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that that is a priority, and it is something which is very close to the Government's heart.