HL Deb 22 March 1972 vol 329 cc713-825

3.50 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, like the noble Baroness I wart to congratulate very warmly my noble friend Lord Fever-sham on raising the subject of the Regional Arts Associations. I can join with both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord in saying that I think that this is the sector in the whole Arts field where a new initiative is most needed. My noble friend is, as he said, chairman of the Yorkshire Arts Association, and anyone who has seen him at work in his headquarters in Bradford or, for that matter, heard his excellent speech to-day, will realise how fortunate that Association is to have him as chairman. I should also like to associate this side of the House with both previous speakers in paying a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I think he has made history at the Arts Council, and although I have not yet had time to read their last annual report, which arrived late last night, I assure him that I intend to read every word, and I know that Sir Hugh Willatt, the admirable director, has written there the story of Lord Goodman's trusteeship.

At the outset I should like to submit to the House two basic propositions about the Arts in the regions. Neither was widely accepted a few years ago, but both, I hope, will now be acceptable as part of any Government's policy for the regions. The first is that we have reached a period in our social history when we ought to employ new techniques and try much harder than hitherto to offer to all parts of Great Britain equally attractive opportunities to participate in the Arts. This means doing some things differently from the way we have done them in the past. It means grappling with the fact that even a reasonably fair distribution will be difficult to achieve on account of the scatter of population and of the natural pull of London on the best artists and most affluent audiences.

The second proposition is that if we wart the Arts to flourish in any region, whether near or far from the centre of London, a larger proportion than at present of the activities in that area must be locally based, promoted and financed. In other words if nine-tenths of the total Government support for the Arts in the English regions—I leave Scotland and Wales on one side for the moment—continues to consist of direct subsidies from the Arts Council plus events produced, packaged and subsidised in or from London, and then sent round the Provinces (although this has been the traditional method, and it is still extremely valuable), such a drastically centralised policy could not create that independent artistic life and vigour of spirit at which we are now aiming in each of the various regions of Great Britain.

Regional policy, given its broadest meaning, has essentially to do with the quality of life in one area compared with another. Is the choice of jobs equally wide? Can one earn as good money in this region as in that? Taking work and leisure together, is the place where I now reside as good to live in as somewhere else? The difference between one neighbourhood and another does not depend only on the road and rail communications, on advance factories, investment grants and depreciation allowances, or on any other material advantage. Of course where the physical environment is bad there is every reason to spend more resources on its improvement. But the environment has another dimension, which we may call the cultural or the spiritual dimension. Where this dimension is neglected life is unsatisfying, there is an urge to move away from the place because there are not enough opportunities in the neighbourhood to enjoy the intellectual, artistic and sporting activities which can be found elsewhere.

It is true that more and more British families can now get in their car and go off long distances in search of their particular form of entertainment. Valuable though these expeditions are, they are not a substitute for a satisfying environment where one lives and works. Can anyone quartify just how much it matters that there should he a choice of cultural and intellectual events in this or that region? I certainly cannot. But it seems certain that young people feel the lack of these facilities more every year—much more to-day than ten years ago. I know from business experience that such facilities play a considerable part in deciding whether managers and technicians can be persuaded to move in and help in building the economic prosperity of an area that has had above average unemployment.

One of the most hopeful signs in society to-day is that the achievements of science and technology are not dazzling us as they did. We are putting them in better perspective and now there is a growing desire to see technology, not exactly demoted, but matched by more food for the spirit. The fact that for the first time we are having a debate on the Arts in the regions proves how widespread the desire is. How do we bring about this better balance? Surely by creating communities in which the cultural interests and enthusiasms of the members are stimulated by the provision of ample outlets. It is possible that in time, so great is this new and growing desire, such communities may come into being of their own accord. But their growth is likely to be more rapid and better balanced if they can get advice and some financial help from an outside source which understands their needs. For this task the Regional Arts Associations are the obvious instrument. My noble friend and the noble Baroness have pressed us to expand their activities with all the vigour we can command. This is our intention, and before I tell the House what we have in mind I should like to add one or two points to my noble friend's admirable description of the Regional Associations as they are to-day.

In comparison with the admirable expansion of the Arts Council of Great Britain why have the Regional Arts Associations lagged behind? Why was it that I found, on taking office, that all the regions of England, taken together, were receiving in grants which they could spend themselves less than half the grant going to the Coliseum, the second opera company in London? We shall not get the policy right now unless we understand how this situation arose. In my view the choice of priorities in the allocation of Government money for the Arts had been, up until comparatively recently, logical and, within its chosen field. brilliantly successful. The Arts Council had all along been passionately concerned with the quality of the professional arts in their highest manifestations. The results justify the policy. British music, drama, opera and ballet enjoy a higher international reputation than ever before. Further, the standards set at the top must have had an influence on all the artistic activity going on underneath the great national companies. I ask your Lordships to take British television, for example. Is it likely that our television would be acknowledged to be artistically the best in the world, if the live Arts in Britain were not setting a very high standard?

Having said that, I must observe that the concentration of subsidies on the national companies of international standard urgently requires to be supplemented by devolving money and decisions to the Arts Associations in the regions. I am not suggesting that the Arts Council should switch grants from their major clients to minor activities in the regions, but I am suggesting they should look at the Regional Arts Associations in a new way and give a new momentum to their growth. The Arts Council may reply—and I perfectly understand the nature of their argument—that they have been spending a growing proportion of their total funds on the regions. Their direct grants to important activities outside London and their subsidies to touring have increased year by year. As has already been said, the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has been indefatigable in visiting all parts of the country. And it is also a fact that, while the Regional Arts Associations are getting started, locally-based companies are glad to announce that they have received grants direct from the Arts Council in London, because such grants are certificates of a high standard of performance.

But, my Lords, the regions wart to grow up. They are grateful for the direct grants and for subsidised touring, but in their eyes that is not the same thing as artistic events promoted by themselves for themselves. They wart themselves to take the decisions to what extent to encourage their local activities, whether professional or amateur, even if from time to time the standards may well fall below those which the Arts Council set for their clients who receive subsidies direct from London. I ask the House to be sympathetic to this demand from the regions, because, if the personality of any region is not encouraged to develop from its own roots, life there will not be satisfying. Your Lordships will require no convincing that this is true of Scotland and Wales. Their strong desire to do things for themselves has been met by the establishment of the Scottish and Welsh Arts Council. But what about England? I find a similar demand is growing, for example, on the North-East Coast, in great cities like Liverpool and Manchester, and in the extreme South-West, in Devon and Cornwall. We must rejoice that everywhere there are signs of reviving local patriotism, and adjust our Arts policy to meet it.

My next point concerns the difference between the Arts Council and the Regional Arts Associations in their respective needs for publicity and promotion services. The audience for the major clients of the Arts Council is not the same as the audience for the Arts in the regions. The first is small, it tends to be socially concentrated and way above the average in knowledge; the second is potentially many times more numerous, but widely scattered and far less knowledgeable. The result has been that the Arts Council could safely leave advertising for the audience to their major clients. They could do the promotion themselves. It is different in the regions. The audience for the Arts in the regions is certainly not to the same degree ready-made. It cannot be relied upon to queue at the box-office, except on the rare occasions when the most famous stars are on the bill.

Many of the smaller theatrical companies and orchestras, performing here, there and everywhere, always on the road, cannot have the money, or the expert staff, or the intimate knowledge of each place where they perform, which are necessary to do successful promotion' themselves. Over and over again, I have been told in the provinces that they lack expert assistance and help from a body of local enthusiasts who are ready to promote any artistic events presented in an area. This is where the Regional Arts Associations come in. They are the people to organise publicity and promo-lion throughout their region. The Arts Council could not undertake this operation from London, but that is not to say that the Regional Arts Associations do not need expert advice from some central point on the techniques of promotion, such as Mr. David Dougan, the Director of the Northern Arts, has so successfully carried out from Newcastle.

Another difference between the Arts Council and the regions is that the Council get all their money from the Government. They have only one patron to lobby and, as the noble Baroness and I know, they are pretty good at the job, as we can see from the Estimates for 1972–73. The regions, on the other hand, must get their revenue from local authorities and private patrons as well as from the Arts Council—and of course they ought to, because the more people and institutions they can touch for money, the wider will be the interest in their work. Ideally, I suppose, they should get one-third from each source and at present only the Mid-Pennine Association achieves this division. What one can say is that all Regional Arts Associations need to be expert in fund-raising. Some associations are becoming very good at putting themselves on the map, but others have a long way to go. Taking together the two arguments for a publicity service for the regions—first, the promotion of artistic events in ways the producers cannot afford; and, secondly, the associations' own need to raise funds—I think your Lordships will agree that a new initiative is required.

I am glad to say that the Arts Council are considering as a matter of high priority what effective and practical steps should be taken to provide and improve central services to the regions, with particular emphasis on the spread of information about the Arts to win new audiences. There has been doubt about where the central services should be located. My noble friend Lord Feversham is Chairman of the Standing Conference of Regional Arts Associations and some members of that Conference, very conscious of the gap to be filled, would like to see a secretariat responsible to themselves established somewhere outside London and handling these central services. I have told them that I think that would be a mistake, and I judge from my noble friend's speech that he is of the same mind. I am sure it would be a great loss if the Arts Council's unique experience were not to be fully available to the regions as they grow up. I would, however, go along with my noble friend, and with some of his colleagues, that the usefulness of this experience must be conditioned by the extent to which the Arts Council are willing to take notice of what the different regions wart to see promoted in their areas, and wart to promote themselves.

The feedback of information from the regions to London is one of the valuable results that would follow from the offer of strong central services by the Arts Council. In time, we could expect many more events which started in the regions to come to London for a season; and I must add—and I believe there is a growing awareness of this in the Arts Council—that the regions wart to help activities like the minor festivals, brass bands (which have already been mentioned), musical and dramatic societies, and exhibitions of amateur art and the crafts. All of that work may at times fall below the standards set by the Arts Council. But would this be so terrible so long as money was not diverted from the Council's major clients?—and no one may be apprehensive that this diversion is in our minds. We have provided the Arts Council with over £2 million more spending money next year than in the year just ending, which means that there should be enough both to maintain the major clients and to do more for the regions.

This leads me to the organisation of the Regional Arts Associations. A very great deal depends on the enthusiasm of their councils and their staffs, and this enthusiasm is of course much influenced by the size of their job. The more responsibility that is given to a voluntary body the more people wart to serve upon it. The local authority representation has from the very beginning been of the greatest importance, and the willingness of private persons and firms in the area to work for the spread of the Arts is always essential. I hope very much that the custom, which is now well established in horse-racing, of firms sponsoring a particular event, like a festival or a new opera, will grow in all parts of the country.

Turning for a moment to Scotland and Wales, the situation in both those countries differs from that in England because the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils are in a very constructive way regional as well as national institutions; and I should like to pay tribute to Colonel Crawshay and the Welsh Arts Council for the vigour with which they are developing Regional Arts Associations in Wales. They have enough money to give their Regional Arts Associations a good deal more than some of the English ones get, and I hope that we are going to hear from the noble Baroness, Lady White, and from my noble friend Lord Brecon more about the regional Arts in the Principality. I understand that my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh and the Scottish Council's new director, Mr. Sandy Dunbar, have some very interesting plans in mind for Scotland. As has already been mentioned, there are no regional associations as yet in Scotland, and we shall look forward to hearing what my noble friend Lord Haig, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and my noble friend Lady Elliot will tell us. It will be very interesting to know whether they think that regional associations are warted in Scotland or not. The Arts Council of Great Britain, on the other hand, like practically every other London-based institution, can hardly be expected to feel quite the same jealous concern for those neglected areas which, collectively, are known as England. All the more reason, then, for supporting the English Regional Arts Associations, about whose finances I must now say a word.

Among the English Regional Arts Associations, the Northern Arts in particular—but there are others who are coming along very well—have shown us what can be done in under 10 years. I very much hope that the right reverend Prelate who is to speak will confirm what we all think: that this is a model for the rest of the country. Nevertheless, of course, one is told that it would not have been wise to give large grants to very new bodies; that it takes time to collect the council, to appoint the staff, to survey what is going on in the area and to vet applications for subsidy. On the other hand, this is something of a chicken and egg situation. Your Lordships may remember what, in a similar quandary, Julius Caesar said. Caesar said: With money I can get men and with men I can get money. That is exactly true of the Regional Arts Associations to-day. The Arts Council gave the English associations in 1970–71, the year before the present Government came into office, £317,000. In 1971–72, which is just ending, the associations received £480,000. It was not enough. I saw that for myself when going round the country; and I have never made any secret that that is my view. The initial grants for 1972–73 have been fixed, though not yet entirely allocated, at £700,000—very much better, but in certain respects still too low; I will come to that in a moment.

We hope, of course, that the local authorities will increase their subscriptions at least in the same proportion; that is, by giving 40 per cent. more to the Regional Arts Associations next year than they did this year. I do not favour making it mandatory on local authorities to contribute to the Arts. I think that how much to spend on improving the quality of life in a given area is essentially a local decision. Each year the local authorities decide to be more generous, and it is precisely the function of the Regional Arts Associations, which they can carry out better than anybody else, to keep up the pressure on the local authorities. I think the authorities would be well advised to give more support to the associations, first because the associations can encourage activities which benefit their ratepayers, and which could not be sustained unless they were performed in areas larger than those of a single local authority; and, secondly, the size of the central grants will always to an important extent depend on how much the local authorities are willing to put up. Their subscriptions in effect call forth more Government money.

Your Lordships will see that the organisation in the regions has to be built on a principle of co-operation between the various Arts and the different interests in the region, backed of course by powerful publicity and promotion. This is different from the organisation at the centre, where one panel of the Arts Council looks after drama, another panel looks after music, another panel looks after literature and so on. In the same way, there are other specialised bodies in London looking after the film as an art form, the crafts and various other branches of the Arts. The problem in the regions is how to form alliances among all these specialist activities so that at ground level they all support and help each other. If the right reverend Prelate was here I would say to him that I hope very much that the Church will become associated with these regional bodies, looking after life as a whole. I see much advantage in drawing together the Arts, the museums and libraries and other forms of leisure activities, and I should particularly like to see more experiments with Arts centres—and here we could learn something from the French.

My Lords, I have talked for a long time. I must quickly summarise under three heads what we are going to do for the regions. First, the grants from the Arts Council to the Regional Arts Associations are, for the second year running, to be increased by some 40 per cent. Secondly, the Arts Council are urgently considering adding to the central services which they offer to the regions—and they have the money for this. Thirdly—and here I come to the point raised by the noble Baroness about capital grants in the regions—the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced yesterday a policy for the assisted areas which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is, I should think, at this very moment explaining in another place. We are studying the place of the Arts within these new regional arrangements and our aim is to accelerate the construction of Arts and other cultural projects in the assisted areas. We shall therefore consult with the Arts Council and other bodies concerned en the scope for a special addition to the capital finance available over the next two years. This should enable some very worthwhile schemes to get started much sooner than we had thought possible. I am not yet in a position to give the House exact details but I will do so as soon as I can.

Your Lordships will see that a new initiative is opening for the Arts in the regions. I hope that before long this will lead to concrete results in many parts of Great Britain, and particularly in the areas where high unemployment and a lack of cultural facilities exist together. They are not always I think unconnected. Anything which your Lordships care to suggest in furtherance of this policy will be very carefully studied. If the House gives me leave to do so I will intervene again to try to answer questions which may be raised in the debate and Which affect the Government's policy for the Arts in the regions.

4.22 p.m.


My Lords, it is particularly gratifying to me that in the same afternoon as we are conducting a debate about the Arts there has been a Statement from the Government about the increase of pensions to old-age pensioners. I think that there is nothing artagonistic between those two; they both demonstrate the fact that we hope to live in a civilised community. I think that a community where people are appreciative of the Arts is a community where people look after the old, the sick and the poor. I think that is really the essence of the whole matter.

I am slightly disappointed in the extremely interesting and carefully thought-out speech of the noble Viscount the Paymaster General. He spoke of the Arts as though they were a merchandise. At no stage did he refer to any particular Art or give any instance of how a particular Art was to be advanced in the regions by one method as against another. To him the Arts appear to be some sort of capital commodity. I can only say, and I say this advisedly, that I think this is an unfortunate approach and that one or two things that he said were even more unfortunate. I think it was unfortunate that he could have called up the question of half a grant to the Coliseum and contrast that with the grant made to the Regional Arts Associations. The Coliseum, unarguably, is a great democratic centre of British opera. It is one of the glories of our cultural life. I should deplore very much a suggestion that we should seek to set one sort of activity against another when the solution is simply for the Government to provide a bit more money.

Implicit in what the noble Viscount said was the criticism that the Arts Council had provided inadequately for the Arts Associations. I shall have more to say about that later. But I have one simple question to ask of him when he comes to make his "encore" speech. The question is: where was the additional money to come from? If, as he promised, he undertakes the chore of reading the Report which we have just belatedly published—and I hope its contents will more than justify the delay—he will be able to see exactly which grants we have made to everyone. Some are as low as £5, some as high as many thousands of pounds and in one case there was a grant exceeding £1 million. Can he say which of these grants we were not to give in order to increase the subsidy to the Regional Arts Associations? I ask that question, for unless we were to take the money away from somebody, how could we provide it to the Arts Associations?

I come now to the question of the cultivation of the Arts in the regions. I hope I may be permitted to enlarge the title of to-day's debate, for I think it is important—and I have a lot to say, and I will say it as briefly as possible—that the things I wart to say are those which are necessary to be said to bring this debate into perspective. First and foremost, the matter we are concerned with is not how the money is administered in the regions; it is not whether the cheque comes from a London office or from a York office or from a Newcastle office. What we are concerned about is that the cheque should buy the best artistic results. I believe it to be lèse-majesté (it may be sacrilege, or even blasphemy) to suggest that a senior Minister of the Crown is capable of confused thinking, hence I should not presume to make any such suggestion; but there is a faint vestige of confusion in the belief that there is greater regional autonomy and regional authority in passing your cheque through an Arts Association.

May I point out that all the major artistic organisations in the country—in the regions, outside them and in the Metropolis—have their own extremely powerful local bodies. Often they are bodies better suited for the job than are the people who run the Arts Associations; because they have been doing it for many years and they often find it a more attractive job to be the chairman of a great theatre or of an orchestra or of an opera. These are wholly regional associations of gentlemen. They bring to the job a totally regional approach. Why is it more regional, except in the most political sense—and I cannot acquit the extremely talented Paymaster General of being a slightly political animal—to pass the money to one set of gentlemen in the area who then invigilate and control it and then pass it to another set of gentlemen in the area both of whom enjoy apparent autonomy, both being totally regional? That veers on a proposition that could hardly be supported locally.

I do not believe that it is in the best interests of many of these organisations to suggest that they should be put under the control of the Arts Associations. In congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, in raising this matter to-day, what was significart was that he put his case with a studied moderation by no means equalled by the noble Viscount the Paymaster General. It is often the case that the convert is more vehement than one who was born to the faith. What Lord Feversham said made excellent sense. He said that there is an area of activity within the regions which quite obviously has to be cultivated within the regions. This does not diminish the importance of the regional associations. Speaking directly, if I may, to Lord Feversham, I think that the regional associations are important; but a knowledge of the scope of their activities and what they can usefully do is an absolute prerequisite for their orderly and rational growth. One must know what functions they can perform and how they can perform them and whether it is not in the best interests of the Arts concerned that they should do so.

Let us take orchestras. Let us take the Hallé Orchestra—one of the glories of regional life and a very great orchestra. This body needs to associate with all the other regional orchestras. In its dedicated and devoted concern for regional matters—and we make no apology for our policy and have no regrets; for we should not have pursued it if we had—the Arts Council established, under their auspices and with their guidance, a regional association of orchestras to which the Hallé belongs. It meets its fellow orchestras. There are five in all: one in Scotland and four in England. The orchestras meet each other in this association, they discuss their respective problems and they can advise and guide each other. With the greatest respect, what use would an Arts Association be, in this context, to the Hallé? The Hallé would, I think, bitterly resent the suggestion that it should be put under the control of anyone who had not the highly expert guidance, based on an enormous corpus of knowledge all over the country in determining its affairs and paying it its grant. Regionalism is a splendid thing. As a political theme it is something with which I am not remotely concerned. It is not the job of the Arts Council to advance the politics or interests of any political Party. It is our job to seek to achieve the best artistic results. We believe that with these major organisations—the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, orchestras, and theatres—these results are best advanced by the system of control at present operated.

My Lords, let us take the situation in the theatres. Despite the suggestion—indeed, more than a suggestion, the statement—that we could not be expected to be zealously concerned with the interests of remote neglected areas in parts of England (that was the statement of the Paymaster General) we have established throughout the country over the last number of years something approaching 60 repertory theatres. I do not claim particular credit for this; it has been the policy from the outset. But with more money, we have been able to do it more intensively. These theatres are, in a sense, a major contribution of the Arts Council to the culture of this country. The theatres could not have been established and worked under the direct control of Regional Associations: they need to have a central body determining comparatively what grant they are to have. They need a central body to furnish them with centralised, expert advice about what to do.

On this matter the noble Lord, Lord Faversham (it is the one matter on which I have any kind of complaint about his speech), and the Paymaster General—about whose speech I have a myriad of complaints—neglected the findings, I think, of the extremely expert Committee, an entirely objective and disinterested Committee, who reported on the Arts Council. I think that I prefer to use the Committee's words rather than my own. They said: From what has gone before it will be clear that the Arts Council give as much advice as money. The notion that the Arts Council are deficient in advice could, quite frankly, be entertained only by a person inadequately briefed about the work that we are doing. We bestow advice; we press advice; we shower advice on people; we torment people with advice—and we know what we are talking about. We have experts on the theatre; experts on the Arts; on music and on literature.

I do not claim that the Arts Council are an infallible body; I do not claim that there is a day of the week when we do not make mistakes. What I do claim is that the suggestion that we should seek to reproduce all this in 12 or 14 Regional Arts Associations is fanciful. It would show a total wart of economy and a complete lack of understanding of the appalling sparsity of people able to do these jobs. When we advertise jobs in the Arts Council the tragic thing we find is the tiny number of people who are capable of doing them; who are prepared to accept what, by commercial standards, are the niggardly salaries that we are able to offer, and who have the knowledge, understanding and human experience to be able to travel round the country advising people on theatrical matters and, at the same time, avoid artagonising them.

The Arts Council have a very good record in this matter. If your Lordships bother to read this Report (which I would recommend only to those who are absolute zealots on this particular subject) you will find that it is shot through and through with commendations of the activities of the Arts Council and their advice in relation to the regions and everywhere else. This, of course, has led me much further than I intended to go. I have no wish to present any appearance of artagonism to Regional Arts Associations. We instituted them. We promoted the national grid which brought them about. We believe them to be excellent institutions. But when we hear the matter presented on the footing that they are probably able to speak for the regions, my answer is, "Yes, but in some things, and in some things only." We are concerned with the Arts. This business about amateur theatricals. the crafts and the like, is something about which one needs to be very sceptical indeed.

The noble Lord, Lord Feversham, is a young and enthusiastic exponent of the Arts, which is exactly what is warted in this country at the present time, because we are all too old. Nobody is going to take guidance from people of my age, and the age, alasa of many of us here. The noble Lord is a young and enthusiastic man. But I think that he sees the position in this country at the moment in relation to the youths who have left school through rather rose-coloured spectacles. The idea that vast numbers of youths rush through the school gates proclaiming their passion for Wagner and Ibsen, anxious to burst down the doors of the local concert hall and theatre is, if I may say so, an attractive one but—


My Lords, is the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, aware that that is not what I said? It is what he is saying.


My Lords, I am, of course, aware that it is what I am saying; but I do not think it is an unfair paraphrase of what the noble Lord was saying. If he did not say it, let me say this. I welcome the fact that he said something that sounded like it, because it enables me to express my own opinion that it is so remote from reality that we must take care that we do not even come half to believe it.

What we are doing in the Arts is this. We are building up new audiences at a snail's pace. We are just about holding our own, and little more. Faced with the situation all over the country; faced with something of the inadequacies of our education system; faced with some of the horrors of our system of television and faced with many of the inadequacies of the media of communication that exists to-day, we are just about holding the position by the immense and prodigious efforts that we are making in the Arts Council and elsewhere. That is the situation, and it is absolutely "pie in the sky" to believe that there is this vast number of youths, all trained and indoctrinated to the Arts. This is what we wart to produce. This is what we are seeking to do. This is what it is all about. It is all about teaching people to understand what makes a better life; teaching people to appreciate the delights and joys of great music; teaching people to appreciate the delights and joys of great literature; to be able to appreciate paintings. But it is a confidence trick to pretend that masses of people can be flung into concert halls and galleries and that they will immediately appreciate and enjoy what they find there. This alasa is far too hopeful a notion.

In conjunction with the education authorities we have to endeavour to make people, to make parents, understand that if children are to have this richer life, they must be taught something about it at an early age. If children are to appreciate music, they must go to concerts early. If children are to appreciate the drama, they must go to the theatre at an early age. In fact, anything that is worth having can be bought only at the price of effort. It cannot be bought by switching a knob or by purchasing a magazine; it can be bought only by long and steady concentration and a belief that there is something worth attaining at the end of the task.

I find it rather sad to be saying this in what is, after all, my valedictory speech; because after this I shall come back only to hound my absolutely first-class successor—if I may so commend him to the House—by saying how wrong his policies are. This is the last time I shall be defending my own, and I do so without a flicker of repentance. I believe that what we have done in the regions is absolutely right. We have spent two-thirds of our money in the regions. If I may venture for a moment to say a word about Scotland and Wales, the position there is rather different. Both of these countries have their own special and individual cultures. I took the view, the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, took the view and I know that the noble Viscount the Paymaster General takes the view, that they must have a total degree of autonomy because of a special regard for their own cultures and the necessity to cultivate the Arts with an eye on the needs of those particular cultures. It would have been quite wrong to try to maintain any kind of control or authority, except in the most formal sense, over the Scottish Arts Council or the Welsh Arts Council.

When I came to the Arts Council, now some seven years ago, I was a much younger and a much less wise man in these matters. But one thing I have learned something about is the distribution of subsidy. I discovered that there was in existence, and had been for some time—although it would be wrong for me to suggest that this is in any way the responsibility of my predecessors who handed on the baton each to the other with the situation greatly improved as the result of their individual exertions—something of a situation in Scotland and Wales. My advisers said to me, "We have not yet determined how to divide the subsidy." We had a single subsidy which had to be divided between the three countries. "What is the trouble?" said I. They replied. "We have not found a formula."

My Lords, there are a number of possible formulas for deciding how to divide money between the areas. There is something called the Goschen Formula, which seems particularly inappropriate. There is a formula relating to rateable value. There is a formula relating to the number of left-handed men in the area. There is a formula relating to the number of marriages existing beyond ten years—one can count any number of formulas. But certain it was that, as a result of the existence of these formulas, the officials (the best of them delight in a situation of this kind) were having a whale of a time exchanging immensely lengthy correspondence. I said to them, "Let us go to Scotland." It is an interesting country, and, I am told, slightly dangerous to visit across the Border at particular points. But bring enough alarm clocks and beads to bribe the natives and you can possibly hope to arrive in safety at Edinburgh. To my delight, we arrived at this great capital city, which I have visited frequently before, and were received most courteously and kindly by the Arts Council. I sat down beside Colin Mackenzie, who is one of the three absolutely splendid chairmen of the Scottish Arts Council whom I have dealt with since my period of office. He said to me: "We have here all the calculations." I said to him: "I do not really wart to see the calculations. What do you wart?" He told me what he warted. "Good", I said, "donea"—whereupon several people fell off their chairs; and he, I think, sent for some sal volatile. Since then we have had no trouble about the allocation.

We had to make some minor adjustments. We claimed that some of the institutions were national institutions, such as the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House, and he claimed that the Scottish Edinburgh Festival was a national institution. We made an allowance to him for that, and he made us an allowance for our national institutions, and peace reigned. Only the other day a new and extremely vigorous and imaginative Director General of the Scottish Arts Council arrived, who revived the question on the basis that in the seven years that have passed there was still a little leeway to make up. Well, again we had a quiet and peaceful discussion, and I hope and think that whoever is speaking for the Scottish Arts Council hereafter will confirm that peace has once again been achieved in the shortest possible period of time. Those two areas are self-contained, autonomous areas. I do not answer for what they do. I used to visit the theatre in Scotland, and nearly every play was about Bonnie Prince Charlie. I decided that, fascinating as I found this topic, one needed to be a Scot to accept it twice nightly. But whatever they use it for, that is their concern.

In Wales the same situation prevails. They have, if anything, a greater problem. They have hardly a building in the whole of Wales which is suitable for the use of artistic presentation. How right it was that the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, so urgently stressed the need for providing new buildings. If I may say so, compared with the question of providing new buildings the question of greater provision of Regional Arts Associations is a monumental trifle: and that is not to diminish its importance. What is needed are places where these things can be done.

I should like now to come to London. The impression has been put about—I am sure innocently and I hasten to acquit the Minister of doing it—that while he personally is immensely enthusiastic about regionalising the Arts (and I read somewhere that he has earned a great deal of popularity on this matter) the Arts Council are not. All I would say is that not only is he welcome to all the popularity, but he deserves all the popularity: and I say that with complete sincerity. But, as a corollary to his acquisition of popularity, there is a faint suggestion that the Arts Council ought to be unpopular, because we are supposedly not concerned about the areas. I do not see how that suggestion can be anything but endorsed by the remarks made by the Minister earlier in his speech.

Let us look at London. It is thought that London is a place replete with cultural amenities, where anyone can step out at any hour of the day and see everything. We have 30 theatres. At least 28 of them ought to be razed to the ground. To sit there is perfect torment. Provision is often made for the trunk alone—and in my case not even for the trunk; rarely is provision made for any other portion of the human anatomy. The toilets are inadequate; the bars are ridiculous; the access is a torment: it takes you 15 minutes to get out, and if any member of the Royal Family happens to be attending it takes you the better part of an hour. These are supposed to be the splendid amenities possessed by London. We have hardly a respectable theatre or a respectable building, except for the few that have been put up as a result of public enterprise. We have the Festival Hall, now not in its first youth; we have the splendid old Albert Hall, for which we owe precious thanks to the Prince Consort, and which is still doing good service; we have two small halls on the South Bank; and now the City Fathers—God bless thema—have decided that they will build a Barbican theatre and a Barbican concert hall. But apart from these, and the Fairfield Hall in Croydon, which an imaginative council built, there is hardly anything throughout the whole of outer London to supply the needs of the population. When people talk about deprived areas for which we have so small concern in the remote parts of England, I would venture to suggest that they should cross the Waterloo Bridge, or any bridge, and take a 14 miles walk: and if they can find any cultural amenity in any part of the area which they traverse, I am prepared to give them a large Arts Council prize.

It is therefore utterly ridiculous to start a competition between the regions and London in these matters. The regions are deprived, and London is deprived. And the reason for those deprivations is an inadequacy of money. What, I again ask the Paymaster General, are we supposed to do in the way of sustaining and fertilising these Arts Associations? Let us look at the reality of the matter. We have a sum of money which we bestow almost entirely on existing customers. We give them a bit more as the need arises. Some of these sums of money we were pledged to long before the Arts Council came into existence or was in its very early stages. Take the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. A constant source of attack from all regional quarters is that it happens to have the one sizeable grant that this country gives to any artistic institution. It is rarely explained that that is required not only to maintain this opera house, which produces opera of absolutely splendid international quality, but also to maintain what is probably the best ballet company in the world. The idea that we should destroy this institution because a Regional Arts Association has an idea that it might wart to promote some new institution somewhere else appears to me to be a travesty of good administration.


My Lords, where does the noble Lord get the impression that anybody has suggested that we should destroy this sort of thing in order to give money to the Regional Arts Associations?


If the noble Earl will give me time, I shall be happy to supply him with a list of the innumerable people who have made the suggestion by implication, expressly, in writing, orally, in print and in any other number of fashions. Anyone acquainted with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden knows that it is subject to ceaseless attack.


The Spectator last week.


I am happy to be reminded by the noble Lord, Lord Snow, a most distinguished member of the Arts Council, that in the Spectator last week there was the most recent attack. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Boyle, will be telling us that we should not take any notice of the Spectator. I will not comment on that. I am only telling him that that was where the last attack was made. There was something to that effect in the Economist this week. You will find it everywhere and at all times. It is based on a mistaken belief that you should approach the subsidy of the Arts in a comparative fashion; that each year you should say: "The Opera House has had a good run. We have had it for 30 years. Let us close it down now and start a new orchestra in Westmorland." Of course we need orchestras in Westmorland. We need so much that the imagination boggles at what is required. What the Government should do is not to seek to stir up unreasonable and corrosive rivalries between different parts of the country, but to work day and night in trying to provide the funds necessary to give us an average density of culture in all parts of the country.

My Lords, I have kept you for too long. I should like to conclude simply by saying this. In the provision for the Arts—and I speak for the Arts; I do not speak for amateur theatricals—it appears to me almost ignominious that in a society that believes in self-help we should be considering subsidy to amateur theatricals. Of course if people wart half-a-crown (if such a coin still existed) or a pound for some paint for their theatricals, that is one thing, but I remember in my own day amateur theatrical societies all over the country who would have thought that we were demented if we offered them subsidies to enable them to put on their productions of the Gondoliers and the Ghost Train. These are the delights for which they enjoy making personal subscriptions. Are we to deprive all mankind of any possibility of doing something for itself? Are we now to provide dart boards under Government subsidy, and special organisations for sharpening the darts? I do not believe that that has anything to do with the Arts or the Arts Council. I am the last man to disparage these thoroughly worthwhile activities. I deprecate the idea that they should enter into competition with an organisation which endeavours to establish that we have artists of the first quality, composers and musicians of the first quality and writers of the first quality. This is a notion totally at variance with any question of what people are doing for themselves in their own homes. If people wart to scrape the violin, I cannot think of a better way of their occupying themselves; but that you should race to the town hall to get yourself issued with an "E" string strikes me as a typical absurdity arising from the idea that you can mingle two or three completely different approaches.

My Lords, I am happy that we have had this debate. It has given me an opportunity, at the very end of a fascinating and stimulating term of office, to say what I believe on these things. I am sure that we shall, ultimately, live in a better world, a world in which people can see great plays and great pictures, hear great music and come to realise that there are achievements of human beings which are beyond their own reach. This is what makes human beings conscious of the fact that they are distinguished from the animals, and conscious also that they must within themselves contain a certain humility. This will determine their behaviour and will make us a fine, a free and a cultured people.

4.51 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we shall all feel better for this debate this afternoon, if only because we have heard Lord Goodman's confession of faith, which has enlightened and amused us all. Where we are to find the common thread through the discussion that has been going on, I am not quite clear. But one thing on which I think we can all agree is that we are all tending in different ways to look at the great upsurge in artistic appreciation, in artistic sensitivity—whether it be in painting, sculpture, literature or music—which has taken place in the last fifty years or so. I would give most of the credit for that to the B.B.C., which from its early days has been set on a course of enlightenment for a rather unsophisticated artistic populace. I can remember hearing—it must be nearly fifty years ago now—the first live broadcast from Covent Garden. It was an excruciating noise, but how important it was for the future; and how we have all benefited from the enlightened views taken by the early B.B.C. pioneersa They continued until the outbreak of the last war, and during the war we had the establishment of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, which later, as we know, developed into the Arts Council. We have heard in the last half hour, in thorough-going terms, exactly what the Arts Council have been up to during the years since the end of the war.

This afternoon's Motion, however, is specifically directed to the Regional Arts Associations, and I see them as a somewhat different thing from the Arts Council. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that the Arts Council are the body to deal with the Arts. The Regional Arts Associations are the bodies to deal with the administration, financing and co-ordinating of the Arts in the regions which they serve. This, believe me, is no easy job. I saw something of it in the early days in London after the end of the war, and I saw what happened because there was no co-ordinating or regional body to see that things were properly worked out. I remember one week (I think it was in 1965 or 1966) when no fewer than four ballet companies opened—three of them, I believe, with a performance of Swan Lake. That was due to sheer lack of co-ordination, and it should never have happened. The ballet companies suffered; the public suffered, and so did the theatrical managements.


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but he may be interested to learn that this is a situation which can no longer obtain. Organisations have been set up to coordinate both concert and ballet programmes, and they work well.


Yes, indeed, my Lords, but I am now talking about something which happened in the past. Some of the problems, however, will continue to occur in the future, I am sure. But the Regional Arts Associations will see that performances do not overlap, and that if a distinguished quartet or a distinguished singer is performing in a particular area he may perhaps be invited to give more than one concert and so on. That is the kind of co-ordination which is so badly needed and which I see as being the job of the Regional Arts Associations. To do this, I think they should take a page out of the Government's book, because the Government, very wisely, administer the Arts at one remove through the Arts Council.

I believe that the local authorities would be well advised to adopt the same course, certainly so far as co-ordination and administration are concerned. Nobody could expect the London Borough of Croydon to give up the administration of its wonderful Fairfield Halls, and nobody would expect the G.L.C. to give up the administration of what it is now achieving on the South Bank, although a great deal of this "pushing things out" to other bodies is going on all the time. The National Theatre will not be run by the G.L.C.; the Hayward Gallery, which the G.L.C. built, has been leased to the Arts Council. The local authority is there rather as a fairy godmother, providing some essential finance.

On the score of finance, I must say that when I read the documents for this debate I was rather shocked because I found that in running the Regional Arts Associations the Arts Council provide over £500,000 per annum as against the local authorities' £263,000, or some similar figure. That, to my mind, is not adequate—not that I would go with the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, to a sixpenny rate, because, interested as I am in the Arts, a sixpenny rate I should put down as plainly outrageous. What is needed in the Arts is a rate of somewhere between a half and one new penny.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? In fact did not suggest that it should be fixed as the product of a sixpenny rate—that was just a figure which was related to the 1948 Act.


Yes, my Lords; but what is important is that I think it frightens people off. They think that if once they start, they are on the slippery slope towards sixpence. I worked out what it would come to in my own case, and I found that it came out at something like £8 a year—though that may still seem a modest sum—for the administration of the Arts. That seems rather a lot for one house, whereas if the amount were somewhere between a half and one new penny this would be somewhere between £1.50 and £2. This is the sort of expenditure that any reasonable household would be glad to bear.

At any rate, a great deal of education among the local authorities clearly needs to be promoted if the funds to run the Regional Arts Associations are to be forthcoming. How this is to be done I do not know. It is not an easy task, and I know how local authorities can tend to be dominated either by one personality or a group of personalities who may be allergic to one or other form of artistic creativity. Nevertheless, it has to be done. It is a fact that in one London borough in the early years of this century the dominating personality did not believe in the education of the masses, with the result that that borough had no public library. But he did believe in mens sana in corpore sano, so that that borough had the finest recreation ground almost in the country. There is that type of mentality, and we have to break down the local authority's attitude and attempt to make it more catholic in its approach to a variety of subjects. The authority has to be prepared to support all-in wrestling as well as symphony concerts.

I should like to say one concluding word about London—which is the only region I know well—as against the rest of the country. This calls for great restraint because there is a tendency for all things to be put in London. The fact that London is particularly the Mecca of all musicians, and the artistic world in general, intensifies the problem. Some years ago, when the proposals for the National Theatre were first abroad, it was proposed to build a new opera house in connection with the National Theatre. This particular scheme had gone some way when I received a message from the then Minister of the Arts, no less a person than my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge, that she warted to talk to me about this project. She put it to me very clearly, and in kindly terms, that if the nation—not London, but the nation, because the Government were to make a 50 per cent. grant—was to have a new opera house, it must be in Man-chester and not in London. This was rather shattering; but it was so obvious when one looked at it squarely and fairly in the face that I agreed with her and I had to go through the task of persuading my colleagues that she was right. That was perhaps the most painful part of the whole process. Nevertheless, there it was; and that is the situation that London will constantly be having to face.

If those sacrifices (and I understand that there is no opera house in Manchester, which rather disappoints me) can be made at the centre, in view of all that London has, or that can be adapted—in spite of what my noble friend Lord Goodman says about the London theatres, which I can heartily endorse—then London must be prepared to make that sacrifice. The coming reorganisation of local government will enable the Regional Arts Associations to make their position anew when they are dealing with larger authorities who, in the first instance, will be allergic to "coughing up" the larger subscriptions in the reorganisation. This is the opportunity for the Regional Arts Associations, and I wish them every success in their step forward.

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, as one of the "natives" to whom the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, referred, I should like to say a few words on behalf of Scotland. In what I say as a member of the Scottish Arts Council in the unavoidable absence of my chairman, the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, I shall try to indicate what the Scottish Arts Council might think, because we have not yet got down to discussing this important subject. As my noble friend Lord Eccles has said, under the present system in Scotland the Arts Council carries out a dual role as a national body and as a kind of Regional Arts Association. To have to change our posture at this moment when the Scottish economy is at a low ebb worries me. The whole of Scotland has a population not much larger than the average Region in England, and the Scottish Arts Council have a machinery which, in my view, is coping very efficiently with the demands put upon it.

The views of our new director, Mr. Sandy Dunbar, one of the founders of the Northern Arts Association, on this matter of Scotland's entry into the regional arts sphere, are, as one would hope and expect, strong and optimistic. I should like to believe that in 1975, when local government reorganisation takes place, we can launch four or five Regional Arts Associations in Scotland. Like Mr. Dunbar, I believe that we should move slowly, keeping the financial factor in the forefront of our minds, but with the ultimate aim of setting up some form of Regional Arts Association which will be tailored in such a way as to suit the Scottish scene. We have to look at this matter from both the short-term and the long-term points of view.

The short-term priorities are to carry out our role as originators of policies for Scotland of administering available support for the Arts so that audiences and viewers will get good service and the artists themselves be properly provided for. Under the watchful eye of my noble friend Lord Eccles, we have to exercise a very strict control over grants to our major organisations; and here I think that we sometimes have difficulty in getting the three main recipients of the first half million of our overall million pound budget—Scottish opera, Scottish theatre ballet and Scottish national orchestra—to keep within their limits.

I should like to refer briefly to Scottish opera. This organisation is at present using about a quarter of our annual budget, and as they say that they cannot exist and function fully during the season 1973–74 without an increase of subsidy to £300,000 and to £340,000 in 1974–75, a special extra allotment for Scottish opera seems advisable if this magnificent and flourishing company are to survive. This would seem fair as they are one of the four main companies in Britain, and the Scottish Arts Council receive only one-twelfth of Arts Council funds for use in Scotland. We cannot in fairness to the other Arts channel a larger quota of our funds in the direction of opera.

While the needs of the big centres are being looked after through the provision of concerts and exhibitions, and performances of opera, the ballet and the theatre, we are, through the good offices of Miss Spink, the Scottish Arts Council organiser of the tours of Scotland, and helped by local authorities, attending to the needs of the small artistically-minded minority in what the noble and gallart Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, might refer to as the "tribal areas". We are helping to foster and sustain the recently founded Association of Art Centres who are doing good work cementing the efforts of Art unions and music and Art societies and centres throughout Scotland. Strings of interesting vehicles are kept trailing in a doubtful climate through our complicated and devious routes of communication between Scottish rural areas. Small audiences of enthusiasts in outlying halls are thus being given much needed sustenance in a climate of general cultural deprivation where in some instances television, let alone BBC2, is unable to reach them.

With all these heavy responsibilities weighing upon us, we are not likely to respond easily to the prospect of a complementary body coming into existence complicating the already difficult organisation with possibilities of occasional rivalry and friction between two bodies. In the short term, we should not contemplate the delegation of responsibility to any form of Regional Arts Association, but stick to the present system of centralisation. The prospect of tapping into sources of much more money than is at present likely to be available from local authorities and from industry and the private local sector if we are to change our methods of administration are not very great. It would not be wise to move faster than the rate of demand from a larger audience and the rate of financial support allow us. I understand that just across the Border more than half the support for the Northern Arts Association comes from local sources, from individuals, industry and local authorities.

Looking at the long-term prospect, I am certain that the Scottish Arts Council should be preparing for a healthier economic climate, when we hope that the North Sea oil and a deep water port at Hunterston will bring more industry to Scotland, when the difficulties of Rolls-Royce and Upper Clyde will be ended. Then will be the time to appoint well-paid, energetic officials to give a positive and active stimulus on the ground, to extract more money from industry and the private sector, to make personal contacts with local authorities and others at grass-roots level. We could then consider pilot schemes in the Highlands and Islands, the Central Belt and the Borders.

Having outlined what appears to be our best approach to meet short-term and long-term responsibilities and commitments in Scotland, I should like to move to one or two outstanding problems which require special support and attention now, and which I believe should be given prior consideration. In my ventilation of these immediate problems I would ask the forgiveness of your Lordships for overlapping the confines of this debate. I do so because Arts debates take place somewhat infrequently, and I wart to take the opportunity of underlining some of the problems which the Scottish Arts Council are having to face at the present time. One of our urgent problems is housing, or perhaps re-housing, the Arts. New premises are needed almost everywhere in Scotland—premises which will have to be proportionally paid for from the Housing the Arts Fund: funds which I believe this year will provide for Scotland something in the neighbourhood of £100,000, a greatly increased sum for which we Scotsmen are grateful, but nevertheless find inadequate. One way of increasing these funds would be to allow money given to the Arts Council or to Regional Arts Associations to be set against tax—preferably for a period of three years, rather than seven, since it is difficult for any man or any business to undertake commitments for a longer period of time. If the Government really wart to increase private or industrial support, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer should make donations to all the Arts tax-deductible.

Help can also be given by encouraging greater effort on the part of local authorities; and in Scotland. when the new streamlined local authorities are banded together with more money at their disposal, they will I hope make a serious attempt to give more help towards new buildings. Help is also required from universities and arts clubs and other institutions. In the North-West of Scotland the Highlands and Islands Development Board must act vigorously, and perhaps an equivalent body may soon be set up in the Borders. All these public bodies will be realising the increasing need to make a concerted effort, in the words of the Northern Arts Association, "to revitalise their Regions economically, industrially and socially". If the right premises are there, then no doubt audiences will be attracted to go to them and will be willing to pay the price of tickets, which has to go up according to inflation, and these audiences will be sufficiently attracted to leave their television sets. If audiences are to be attracted to-day, they expect and wart more than a hard seat in a draughty converted mission hall, with a cup of tepid tea in the interval. Standards have risen. The Arts must compete with rival forms of entertainment, and audiences today expect the best in the Arts as in the cinema, restaurarts, hotels and airports.

Secondly, it is wrong to spend large sums of money on training and subsidising talented musicians and actors and then to ask them to perform in substandard conditions. We should no more expect our artists to perform in obsolete conditions than we should expect people to live in slums. How many noble Lords would like it if after a major role in Othello they had no bath or shower to wash of their black grease paint? Thirdly, we should consider new forms of buildings and new patterns of social recreation. A theatre or hall should be a place to which the public can resort for a play, a lecture, a film, a meal, or just a chat with friends at all hours of the day. We should not separate the Art forms, but design new buildings where all the Arts can be shown to best advantage. In Scotland we have examples of new buildings in Musselburgh and Motherwell and at Stirling University where the MacRobert Centre, a 500-seat theatre with a studio-theatre alongside, and an art gallery and a magnificent restaurart, is a model of its kind.

Now I should like to move from the sublime to the less sublime. It is true that both Edinburgh and Glasgow have bought their cities No. 1 touring theatres. It is true that the Government and the Edinburgh Corporation are jointly building a new opera house in Edinburgh; but throughout Scotland the need for modernisation and new building is very urgent. In Glasgow the St. Andrew's Hall was burnt down ten years ago and has never been replaced. The Scottish National Orchestra have to turn people away from their concerts in the City Hall because it seats only between 1,200 and 1,300 people. The same concerts in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, attract 2,000 people. So in Glasgow the Scottish National Orchestra play to approximately half the audience in a city twice the size of Edinburgh. The Citizens' Theatre is elderly, located in a depressed area, and is schedeuled for demolition for road widening. The Glasgow Corporation have proposals for a new cultural complex to comprise a new building for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and a new theatre for the Citizens and a new 2,000-seat concert hall for the Scottish National Orchestra. But so far this project is unrealised. If the Government can give £2¼ million towards the, E4½ million needed to build the new Edinburgh Opera House, surely they will look sympathetically at Glasgow's no less urgent need for a new concert hall and theatre.

Plans are under way—plans which will need subsidies—for theatres in Dundee, Pitlochry and Inverness, and there are projects for converting or building small theatres or Arts centres in places such as Gatehouse of Fleet, Kilmarnock, East Kilbride, Eastwood, Cumbernauld, Airdrie, Hawick, Livingston, Kirkcaldy, Dalkeith and St. Andrews. In my own part of the world an Arts centre is very badly needed as part of the proposals made by Professor Johnson Marshall a number of years ago. Forty miles over the Lammermuirs is really too far to have to travel on a winter night, though I accept such a distance as being feasible for a symphony concert or a good exhibition; and to help people with their transport problems Arts Council grants are available to help pay for mini-bus travel by organised groups. I would give priority to a new gallery in Edinburgh—a gallery large enough to exhibit major Hayward-type exhibitions. London is really too far to travel to see international exhibitions.

A project which is under discussion at present is a St. Katherine's Dock-type development suitable as a studio-workshop where artists and craftsmen can work together in a creative atmosphere. We hope to find some suitable building. preferably in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and we have agreed to appoint somebody, either voluntarily or on a fee basis, to go into the possibilities of acquiring and setting up such a building. We have recently purchased new premises in Glasgow, which will be our new headquarters, which we hope to turn into a gallery. We have also helped to set up several craft workshops for potters, weavers and printmakers. All these projects are helping artists as well as the world of interpreters and the audience. They show that the builders are being kept pretty busy by the Scottish Arts Council and that our plans for the future are very much alive. Bricks are needed, and because of rising costs and the increasing and serious need for housing of the Arts, I urge the Government to increase still further their Housing the Arts Fund allowance. In saying this, I am not wishing to speak against the theme of the Regional Arts Associations and the theme of this debate.

I should like to say how glad I am to have been able to contribute to this debate on behalf of Scotland. I hope that the time is not far off when we can ourselves form Regional Arts Associations. Finally, in answer to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, about the Scottish Arts Council's view of the way in which the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Scottish Arts Council have co-operated, we feel that our cooperation is entirely and optimistically happy.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise to the House for the fact that owing to another engagement of long standing I am afraid I shall have to leave the debate as soon as I have finished speaking. But I should like to say at the start that I am delighted to be taking part to-day, for two reasons: first, because it so happens that I am a vice-President both of the Northern Arts Association and of the Yorkshire Arts Association, of which latter body my noble friend Lord Feversham is Chairman. May I say that I am proud and pleased to be associated with both of them. I can well remember some years ago being present at the annual general meeting of the Northern Arts Association. In those days Mr. Sandy Dunbar was still the principal officer. One other person I should particularly like to mention. We have had present with us for some time this afternoon the noble Lord, Lord Crathorne, and I think we should remember the enormous contribution made by Lady Crathorne over many years to the Northern Arts Association. No-one could have been present at that annual general meeting without realising the genuine, spontaneous, local enthusiasm and creativity which went towards its making. I would emphasise that when we speak of Regional Arts Associations we are not speaking of something imposed by the Government or of institutions which people think ought to exist and to which they come along with a certain sense of weariness in confronting the agenda. On the contrary, my experience in both the North of England and Yorkshire is that these are associations which are backed by spontaneous enthusiasm and a desire for creative work. My second reason for speaking in this debate is that I have myself only recently moved from the South of England to the North, and therefore I can endorse all that has been said about the importance of the environment in the older industrial areas of this country.

Having made those remarks, my Lords, may I make one or two comments on the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to which we listened a little while ago. May I first say that there are two points on which I would like to dissociate myself from him. The first is when he suggested of the Paymaster General that his approach to the question of the Arts was analogous to one's approach to merchandise. I have known the noble Viscount for many years; I have had the privilege of being a colleague of his in the House of Commons for many years, and for anyone who knows my noble friend the suggestion that he looks on Arts or values purely on the analogy of merchandise is, frankly, quite extraordinary.


Hear, heara


My Lords, it is a suggestion from which I would dissociate myself completely. The second point on which I should like to comment is that I thought the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was considerably less than just to what has been achieved by many local authorities by way of Arts education in the schools, and I am thinking particularly of the West Riding of Yorkshire. I am afraid that some of my friends must think me boring in extolling the virtues of the West Riding authority and the particular contribution of their Chief Education Officer, Sir Alec Clegg. No authority in the country and no chief education officer can have done more to stimulate education in the Arts, and particularly education in music, than the West Riding authority and Sir Alec Clegg. Of course it is a mistake to be overoptimistic. One thinks of the wise remark of Freud which I think we should always remember, that it is no mark of a powerful or generous mind to be over-optimistic about the human race. Even so, real progress has been made in the schools over the years. I thought that on that point the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was less generous than he might have been to the work of the education authorities.

Having said that, there were two other points to which I turn with greater pleasure, having been appointed to the Arts Council by the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, and having had the experience of serving under the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, on that Council. I would go a considerable way with him on these two points. First, I think it would be unfortunate if in this debate or on any other occasion we tried, as it were, to play off the Coliseum or any other major institution against the local Arts Association in terms of resources. I say that for this reason: I know very well just what visits from central opera companies mean. The visits of the Coliseum opera company, of the Welsh national company, and of the Glyndebourne company have all meant an enormous amount to us in Leeds. They mean an enormous amount right beyond the university community; although I think that we should not forget that university communities of the size of Leeds are themselves the size of an average town—something between 15,000 and 20,000 people. This is even more true if one takes into account the whole of higher education in a big city. Therefore when central opera companies go on tour the visits mean a very great deal.

Although it is perhaps not so relevart to this debate, the other point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was that we should never forget the part that the Arts Council have to play at the centre (and I think this is important) in helping to establish the traditions and the standards of a great orchestra, a great theatre or a great opera company. It is surely true of an opera company, just as it is true of a university, that the transition from excellence to upper mediocrity is terribly easy. I can remember the days before the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, became associated with the Arts Council, when one opera company that had long been supported by the Arts Council had to have its support withdrawn. I remember thinking that this was both sad and inevitable; and I think that the part played by the Arts Council in helping to entrench and to preserve certain standards of excellence among established institutions is something that we should never forget or underrate.

I come next to the precise functions which Regional Arts Associations have to fulfil. If I may say so, I thought the criticisms made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, of the Government for their priorities would, with me, have carried that bit more conviction if he had then gone on to express his ideas of the precise function which a Regional Arts Association ought to perform; and if I may I would like to—


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord but if he reads our report he will find that we have most carefully indicated our view of what a Regional Arts Association should do, and our assessment of its value.


My Lords, I am looking forward to reading the report. We were issued with this magnificent report only just at the start of the debate, and I will certainly read it with great care. But let me mention three or four particular functions where, to my way of thinking, Regional Arts Associations have a particular part to play. First, they can be a focal point for funds from local authorities, from the Arts Council itself, from industry, from private individuals and indeed a whole range of charitable organisations. I believe that as a focal point for funds Regional Arts Associations have importance; and I would say exactly the same when one considers the place of the Regional Arts Association as a pressure group on local authorities for greater support of the Arts. I am not sure that this is not one of the most important functions of all. We know that local authority finance to-day is extremely strange. There are many pressures on local authorities for greater expenditure. It is most important to have a focus that can be recognised as something local, something supported by a wide range of opinion, which can all the time put on pressure for more support for the Arts.

Thirdly, of course, Regional Arts Associations have their own panel system, their own system of expertise which allows decisions on priorities in expenditure to be taken on an artistic basis. This is very important and it is in a sense the bedrock of Arts administration. I know from my own experience on the music panel of the Arts Council what a difficult job this is, either at national or local level, and it is most important that it should be performed as well as possible.

Lastly, there are the promotional activities of the Regional Arts Associations, and I would list these under more than one head. The Yorkshire Arts Association, of which my noble friend Lord Feversham is President, has established a quartet, now for three years, at York University. It engages in the buying of paintings and sculptures. But there is another no less important function, and I know that Mr. Michael Dawson of the Yorkshire Arts Association feels this very much; namely, the importance of the Arts Association helping to provide that element of professional stiffening which makes all the difference between a poor amateur performance and a good one.

I am not myself, alasa, an executive musician of any kind; but my mother was a good amateur cellist, and she always said you could not have a good amateur orchestra without a seasoned leader at the head of each department. All my experience makes me think she was right in that. All praise to the school in London where once, when I was presenting prizes and they were giving a musical performance, the performance was interrupted for five minutes while someone in charge went round each section to make sure that the instruments were in tune. I thought how much my mother would have approved that action. I think this can be one of the more important functions of an Arts Association, to help provide just that professional stiffening which can turn what might otherwise, by to-day's standards, be an inadequate performance, into a good one. Let us face it, we do not wart to be snobbish, and yet in these days of magnificent recordings, the development of solid state physics, and better hi-fi equipment than ever before, our tolerance of amateur performance, in music at any rate, is rather less great than it used to be generations ago. We demand rather higher standards of finish in amateur performances than might have been the case in the past.

There are only two other topics to which I would refer. I am sorry I shall not be able to be present to hear the answer, but I would ask the Paymaster General this question. Are we absolutely clear that the new Local Government Bill gives the new authorities the legal capacity to pay grants to Regional Arts Associations? I am thinking here, too, of the point that these new and larger authorities will be very carefully looking at one another to see what each is doing, and if there is any doubt in one authority it will be transmitted to others. I am not saying for a moment that these grants should be compulsory, but I think we need to get the legal position under the Bill absolutely clear.


My Lords, if my noble friend will allow me to intervene, he has raised an important point, and although I understand that under Clause 142 they have this power, there is, I think, an argument for making the position somewhat clearer. I hope that at some stage during the passage of the Bill we may have an opportunity to consider this question. I agree very much that the clauses as they stand now are a little disappointing to those interested in the Arts in the regions.


My Lords, may I say that I am delighted, as I am sure the whole House will be, to hear that reply from the Paymaster General. I am grateful for it.

The very last point I wish to mention is concerned with housing the Arts. I agree with what has been said by a number of speakers about the importance of a more ambitious programme for the housing of the Arts, not all of them enormous projects, but projects of every size and scale that are needed in this country. I wonder whether I might say one thing to the Government on this point. It has always struck me that in Britain we exercise a tighter and more detailed control of public building than almost any country in the Western world. If one is describing the British political system, the degree of detailed control of even quite modest public building projects has always seemed to me an extraordinary thing and something that differentiates our system from other countries. It is a curious matter, looking back, that we were so quick 15 or 18 years ago to decontrol any form of private building—a point on which the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and I had our own views at the time—while maintaining absolutely detailed control where public building is concerned. If I may say this to the Paymaster General, it is my feeling that if the Government were able to relax a little more on this front, having a slightly more liberal regime over public building in general, and over housing the Arts in particular—we know that more money has been advanced for minor works for schools, for which we are grateful—I believe it would do more to raise morale than almost any comparable step. I wish the Paymaster General well in any efforts he may make in this direction.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware of the National Music Federation, which does precisely what he was inviting the Regional Arts Associations to do in the way of providing professional stiffening for amateur performances. That is an organisation which does just that.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. Indeed the National Music Federation contributes a great deal, but of course its resources are limited. I believe this is a field where, if the Regional Arts Associations could also play a part, it would be useful.

5.38 p.m.


My Lords, I am indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady White, for promoting me in the speakers' list. I understand she has another engagement and will return to speak for Wales at No. 14 in the place where my name appears. At first I thought I might apologise to the House for intervening in a discussion on Regional Arts Associations because my experience of promotion of the Arts is confined to Scotland; but since the noble Earl, Lord Haig, has established the precedent of talking about a national and not a Regional Arts Association I presume that I can follow.

I speak, my Lords, as someone who has been associated with the repertory theatre in Scotland, and it may be of interest to your Lordships to discuss for a moment not simply the amount of money that is spent on the Arts but what we do with the money, what is the standard that we seek to observe in the organisations which benefit from the assistance of the Arts Council. May I say right away, as a Scot, how important the development and support of the Arts is for the industrial and economic revival of Scotland. I have recently been engaged in two exercises, one as Chairman of the Forestry Commission, trying to influence Civil Servarts to accept the fact that Scotland is a reasonable place to live. This is extremely difficult. I am also engaged in a Government-sponsored project to bring European investment to Scotland, in order to relieve unemployment. Here again I come up against the same kind of attitude on the part of people who are asked to move: they consider Scotland to be a rather dull, grey kind of place, with a rather quarrelsome, narrow-minded and dour outlook on the part of the population. I am sure that what is happening in the Arts in Scotland will help to dissipate that rather unfortunate image, and can in fact encourage investment, encourage people to move there, and encourage ambitious young people to stay there.

Whatever we may have politically, we in Scotland have in the Arts complete home rule. I think we should acknowledge this fact, because it is so often part of the Scottish character to complain about London direction and London Government. Not only have we complete home rule, but the Arts Council have been extremely generous in their support for the Arts in Scotland. In 1967, the figure was £450,000; in 1972, it is £1,160,000. And I must say that with that kind of support and that increased backing the Scottish Arts Council should express their appreciation.

I am concerned, however, about how we spend the £1,160,000, and I was delighted to hear Lord Goodman's definition of the purpose of Arts Council expenditure: that it should be directed towards attaining the best artistic result. Because we have limited resources we must of necessity discriminate, and I believe that to spend the money to achieve the best artistic result, and to support and encourage excellence in the Arts, is a worthwhile objective and one that should guide those people who have to make the agonising decisions between one art form and another art form in the claim for funds.

In support of my theory that we should encourage excellence I should like to pay tribute to the Scottish National Orchestra, under the conductorship of a distinguished Scot. This is an orchestra that has to cover a very large area. It performs in Orkney and Shetland; it performs in Aberdeen, Inverness and Dumfries, and covers an area stretching for 400 or 500 miles. This involves considerable costs. The fact that the orchestra is based 400 miles from London means that it has limited recording opportunities and is denied that source of income which is available to the large London orchestras. Its costs are high and, as has been said earlier by the noble Earl, Lord Haig, the major concert hall in the City of Glasgow takes only from 1,000 to 1,200 people, so this limits the income available to the orchestra. It is increasingly gaining a European reputation, and its European tours are largely supported and sponsored by private subscription. I think that in our aim of encouraging excellence the Scottish National Orchestra must stand high on our claims.

Scottish opera has been discussed by Lord Haig, and it is true that the Scottish opera, and particularly their recent accomplishments in the productions of The Trojans and The Ring, have established an almost world-wide reputation for this company. I understand that for the recent performances of The Ring in Glasgow people flew from the United States to see it, since The Ring has not been regularly performed in this country. So that here again is a candidate which should get support.

At the same time, when we are talking about supporting the Arts it is clearly necessary to insist on reasonably good management of the monies that are provided. We were in a panic situation at the turn of the year in Scotland because there was a question of raising £40,000 in a few days in order to stave off the bankruptcy of Scottish opera. Now I do not blame the Arts Council for lack of support in this regard. I think that some of the companies which receive Arts Council support should do a bit of better budget- ing and should manage their finances, perhaps with some guidance and experience from business people, so that they do not run into this kind of situation. I am delighted that the Arts Council encourage training in management and administration, and I regard this as very important. Because of the nature of the people involved in the Arts, there is frequently a disregard of such things as budgets and such things as the limitation on expenditure which are too often interpreted as limits on the creativenesss of the artist. Neverthelesss, in all of these agencies, in all of these departments, which receive Arts Council money there is a role for someone or some group—the board, extra members of the board—to keep an eye on how money is spent.

I wart now to say a word or two about a rather controversial field, a dangerous field, because whatever I may say in this direction will be misinterpreted. We have to think a little about the quality of what is produced from the expenditure which is made. My particular experience is with the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, where I was a director for nine years. I resigned last year, along with two others, because I found myself completely out of sympathy with current trends in the theatre. On that occasion the Guardian sent a journalist up to Glasgow to interview the artistic director and all others involved on the artistic side of the theatre. They examined the declining fortuntes of the theatre and said, "This is not the fault of the director; it is obviously the fault of the board." This is a recurring theme in local repertory theatre affairs since the Nottingham John Neville case, and one can see it in a whole lot of theatres; that when there are declining fortunes in the theatre the board are frequently the whipping boy. And if the board try to intervene on matters of artistic judgment they are misinterpreted by the communicators as being unduly interventionist, as being fuddy-duddies, and in the words of (I think it was) Harold Hobson the people in Glasgow were described as "puritanical baillies".

My Lords, I think that in the management of repertory theatres the board have an important role to play, not simply as a supporters' club, not simply as the people who drum up money and audiences, but frequently because they are resident in the area, whereas directors are often only passing through as they advance their careers. The local boards have something to say even in connection with programme selection. In my own experience, of 67 plays suggested by the theatre director only three were vetoed by the board. On one occasion a production of Marlow's Dr. Faustus, in which the vices are portrayed, the threatre director chose to interpret and present the figure of the symbol of Sloth as the Queen, and so an appropriate mask was made of Her Majesty, an appropriate voice cultivated so that Sloth would be portrayed on the stage as the Queen. Whatever views may be held about Royalty and the Royal Family, I would not regard that as a fair artistic interpretation, and consequently the board intervened and there was a great deal of excitement and denunciation of the board for interfering with the creativity and the integrity of the producer.

I mention this because it is not a case referring particularly to Glasgow; it is the kind of situation which has arisen elsewhere. In last season in the choice of plays suggested was Edward Bond's Saved—which some of your Lordships know and in which a baby is done to death with human excrement in the pram —What the Butler Saw; Genet's The Balcony, which is a fartasy in a brothel; The Cenci, in which there was one execution and one woman raped three times in the first Act in the presence of her husband. During all the time this was going on, there were almost nude male figures dashing about the audience asking you, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ", and "Was Jesus Christ hanged on the Cross?" The relevance of these questions to a rape proceeding on the stage escaped me. I suggest to artistic directors and people in charge of the theatre that now we have gone beyond the initial excitement of the abolition of censorship they have some responsibility to audiences, and they should not attempt to artagonise audiences.

This year in the same theatre Hamlet is being produced with Ophelia in drag. Ophelia is a six-foot handsome young man who is painted and decorated to play Ophelia. Genet's The Maid, which is a play, as your Lordships probably know, based on a perfectly legitimate and under- standable lesbian relationship between a woman and her maid, was played this year by males dressed up as females, which made it a bit difficult to understand the implications of Genet's intentions. Arthur Miller's delightful play, The Crucible was similarly played in drag. The result of all this excitement, enterprise, imagination and inventiveness on the part of producers has meant that the Edinburgh Civic Theatre, in a city half the size of Glasgow, got 56 per cent. Arts Council and local authority grant. but the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, because it has no comparable revenue from the box office, gets 70 per cent. Arts Council and local authority grant.

It occurs to me that at some stage the Arts Council has a responsibility for being interventionist and even discriminatory, and I do not believe that it is wise to say that if a theatre has declining fortunes therefore it must be propped up more. I think there ought to be a more close investigation of why there is this declining fortune in the theatre. Last year the Edinburgh Civic Theatre had paid attendances of £58,426; the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, in a city twice the size, had paid atendances of £28,957, half the attendance of the Edinburgh Civic Theatre. This year, Nottingham, I am delighted to say, has an attendance of 74.5 per cent., which is a remarkable record for any repertory theatre. The comparable figures for Edinburgh and Glasgow are 52 per cent. and 44 per cent. respectively.

This is a debate that is concerned about encouraging regional Arts. I sub-scribe completely to the theme of the debate and to everything that has been said about encouraging greater support for the Arts, but I would also suggest that in spending money we should also look at the quality of what we are producing. I was reading the other night—and I will close on this, because I have spoken too long—Benjamin Britten's address on receiving the first Aspen Award. He said: There is nothing wrong with offering to my fellow men music which may inspire or comfort them, which may touch them or entertain them, or even educate them directly and with intention; on the contrary, it is the composer's duty, as a member of society, to speak to, or for, his fellow human beings. It is the easiest thing in the world to write a piece virtually or totally impossible to perform, but oddly enough that is not what I prefer to do. I think that the wise words of our most distinguished composer might well be read occasionally to some of the artistic directors. Benjamin Britten says: In the richer capitalist countries money and snobbishness combine to demand the latest and the newest manifestations. I think Benjamin Britten is right to warn against these dangers. May I quote finally the words of one of our distinguished producers, just dead, Tyrone Guthrie, who said: When I see the avart garde theatre, thank God I am derrière garde."

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, let me say at once that I shall detain the House for only one or two minutes, because I do not propose to join in the debate on the broader issues which have been put before the House by the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, in starting this discussion. Indeed, I should be wholly unqualified to take part in a debate of that kind. The only reason by which I can in any way justify my intervention is that I happen to live in the far South West of this Island, and it was kindly suggested to me by the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, himself, that it might be useful if one or two of us were to speak upon the particular problems confronting our own region, the region about which we know something. It may not be wholly out of order if I say a few words about the special problems of the South West, because these problems go some way to justify the case that it is important that the Arts Associations of the region should be autonomous bodies who can have special regard to the particular needs of the region which they happen to serve.

The first dominart, and of course unalterable, fact about the South West of England—and this is true whether you are talking about economic aid, the reform of the courts, reform of local government, or the desirability or possibility of some kind of regional government, whatever may be the context in which you are discussing it—is the fact of its geography. The truth is that if you look at it dispassionately, the South-West of England is extremely awkwardly shaped and very inconveniently situated. I do not know whether fundamentalists—possibly the Bishops can help me about this—still believe to-day that the dry land was separated from the seas in the time of the original Creation of the world, and that the area of dry land has remained the same to-day as it was when it was originally established. I can only think that if anybody believed that and took a look at the South West of England he would have some difficulty in continuing to believe in an all-wise and benevolent Deity, because the South West of England is administratively an unmanageable problem and it presents all kinds of planning difficulties.

The basic difficulty arises in this way. If you are trying to set up a region or demarcate the area of a region for any particular purpose, you usually have to, find an area which has a sufficiently large population base as a foundation for the particular operation which you have in mind. When you come to the South West of England, in order to get a region with a population base comparable to the other regions of England you have to encompass within the area a vast square mileage, and it becomes automatically the largest region in the country. In the case of the South West, whether you have been doing it for the purpose of economic planning or anything else, you create a region which stretches from Land's End up to Bristol or beyond, and along the South Coast to the border of Hampshire, and you create a region which is, in length alone, about the same length as the distance from, say, Gloucester almost to the Scottish Border. That is why it is such an unmanageable problem to try to create a satisfactory region in the South West.

The second point about the region is that, within this general problem of size is another problem, which is that the population within the region is most inconveniently and awkwardly distributed. The biggest conurbation in the South-West is at Bristol, which is up in the North-East corner of the region, and the second largest conurbation is down in the South-West of Devon, at Plymouth. In the ordinary way, the tendency has been for organisations on a regional basis to establish themselves and to carry out their functions at Bristol, which is a matter of permanent resentment particularly to people who live at the other end of the region, especially in the counties of Devon and Cornwall.

The third factor about the South-West region is that it is not possible to say that there is really any community of interest between the people who live down in the Cornish peninsula and the people who live in Somerset or Dorest. The only community of interest that they have is that of maintaining their communications by road and railway. The last factor to which I would seek to draw your Lordships' attention is this. More than two-thirds of the population of the South-West region live in rural or small urban communities. Less than one-third lives in the larger conurbations. Those are the characteristics of this region, and of course those characteristics present substantial difficulties to the South-Western Arts Association.

I suppose one could put them under two heads. The first is that, because we are isolated and so far away from London, it is very difficult to get professional artists into the South-West and to come beyond, say, Bristol. The second difficulty is for these scattered rural and small urban communities to mount and sustain their own artistic activities and centres. Having said that, and having pointed out the difficulties of which the South-Western Arts Association are of course all too well aware, I must also say that, despite the difficulties, the need for the assistance of the Arts Association and the stimulation of the interest and participation in the Arts in these rural areas is very great indeed. Emphasis has already been laid by a number of noble Lords who have spoken in this debate upon the fact that in these depressed, or liable to be depressed, areas, unless some kind of cultural amenities are provided the brightest and liveliest minds are going to look elsewhere to pursue their fortunes.

Mr. Ian Watson, who is the Director of the South-Western Arts Association, has been kind enough to send to me an account of the history of the Association, and indeed some description of its approach to the problems of which I have been speaking. He summed it up in this way, if I may quote from a letter that he wrote to me: You will see how we are attempting particularly to grapple with the problem of Arts provision for small, dispersed and for the most part rural communities. We are con- cerned above all to have the Arts regarded in our region as an integral part of social, economic and industrial development, and it is precisely for this reason that much of our work at present is concentrated in the development areas of Cornwall and North Devon. May I say, respectfully, that I think that that approach is entirely right. It follows, too, that it is vitally necessary to bring home to the local authorities, who are responsible for the wealth and health of these depressed and scattered communities, that to assist in the provision of cultural and artistic amenities in such places is part of their duty; and, indeed, is part of the duty of industrialists and persons engaged in commerce who operate in such places as those.

May I conclude with two slightly personal references? The South-Western Arts Association had not, until quite recently, received any support at all from the local authorities in the region. I am glad to say that that position has now been rectified. It was in fact rectified on the initiative of an old friend of mine, Mr. Gerald Whitmarsh, who was then Chairman of the Devon County Council, which is my native county. It was on his initiative that the first efforts were made to get local authorities to give assistance to the Arts Associations. I should like to put it on record, as did the South-Western Arts Association, that it was largely owing to his efforts that that unfortunate situation in the South-West was reversed; and the contributions which are now being made by the local authorities in the South-West are steadily increasing.

The other personal matter upon which I shall conclude is this. It so happens—and this is the reason why I was prevailed upon to take part in this debate at all—that the latest professional theatre and music group which has been established in the South-West, and the first of such groups to be established in the County of Cornwall, goes under the title of Foot's Barn and is directed by my nephew. As I said, I was prevailed upon to take part in this debate partly because of the assistance which he and his group have received from the Arts Council and from the South-Western Arts Association. So I mention that with a little pride, because—I hope the House will agree—in a family like mine, where most of us are engaged most of the time simply in talking, it is refreshing to find a member of the family, even among the younger generation, who is actually doing something.

6.8 p.m.


My Lords, before I say anything else, I must apologise for the fact that a long-standing engagement from which I cannot escape will prevent me from being in the House when the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, concludes this debate. He has already forgiven me, and I hope the House will do the same. The noble Lord, Lord Snow, who is to speak next—and it is always a delight and an exhilaration to listen to him—has been kind enough to forgive me, too. Someone—not, I am glad to say, a Member of your Lordships' House—remarked to me a day or two ago that he understood there was to be a debate to-day the purpose of which was to say that less money for the Arts should be given in London and more should be given in the regions. As to the first part of that proposition, I need hardly tell your Lordships that I profoundly disagree. I should gladly see more money—very much more money indeed—given to the Arts in London. Not only is it essential that the great metropolitan enterprises should be not only metropolitan but international in quality and in esteem—the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet, the National Theatre and the great London orchestras—but there are in London, as elsewhere, very many enterprises which need and unequivocally deserve support and which are struggling for existence.

I should deplore—and I am quite sure that most of your Lordships would—any reduction in the support given by the Arts Council to the Arts in London. It ought to be increased. And, my Lords, when we consider that more than two-thirds, I think, of the Arts Council grant is disbursed outside London, that London, with about one-fifth of the population of Great Britain and with a metropolitan and international role to play, gets rather less than one-third of the total, that does not seem to be any disproportionately large share of the cake. All the same, my Lords, while I should deplore any increase at the expense of London in the support for the Arts outside London itself, I find it heartwarming to see the remarkable growth in recent years of the Regional Arts Associations and their activities and I should like to see that carried much further, as I am sure it will be in the years to come. I hope that the preoccupation of the local authorities (who occupy a central position in any such expansion) in the next few years with all the problems thrust on them by the reorganisation of local government will do nothing to set back or to inhibit that process of development and expansion.

I have seen the growth of the Regional Associations from its beginnings. The first pioneers were the South Western Arts Association, about which the noble Lord, Lord Foot, told us a good deal from his own personal experience, and the Midland Arts Association. They were set up primarily to counterbalance the effects of the Arts Council's considered decision to close their regional offices. That decision was before my time at the Arts Council it was enforced by the shortage of funds available to give more direct help to enterprises in the regions, and I am entirely without doubt that it was, in the circumstances at that time, a wise decision. Those two associations were embryonic, with limited purposes. The South Western Association was at that time really a consortium of local authorities in the South-West to provide jointly a subvention for their own orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and it did not go very far beyond that. It was the far-sighted enthusiasm of Alderman Blenkinsop in Newcastle-on-Tyne, with his friends in Tyneside and Teesside, that established in the early 1960s the new model that was embodied in the North Eastern Association for the Arts (as it was at first called) and made it the pattern for the Regional Associations that we know to-day. I was at that time Chairman of the Arts Council, and I watched the development of the North Eastern Association, and of the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra that Sir Humphrey Noble did so much to bring into being, with the utmost interest and delight. It seemed to me to be a model of the way in which such things should be done.

A local Festival of the Arts should be built around a core of local enthusiasm, interest and talent—Aldeburgh is the perfect example—and once you nave that essential core you can add to it and build on it from outside. The idea that was once urged on me at the Arts Council of potted festivals that could be sent on a circuit of selected towns filled me with horror. Just as a local festival of the Arts, to be thoroughly healthy, must be built around a core of local enthusiasm and local interest—this is a point which was made by the Paymaster General—so a Regional Arts Association, if it is to flourish, must be generated by local interest and enthusiasm, and that was what was done by Arthur Blenkinsop and his friends in the North-East. That enterprise grew and prospered, and other cities and areas were fired with a spirit of emulation and followed suit until the whole network of autonomous Regional Arts Associations—and the word "autonomous" is very important—was built up as we know it to-day. Some of them are good and strong, some of them are weaker. There is very much still to be done. But it is most encouraging to know that the network now covers almost the whole of Great Britain (I am sad that my own native county of Buckinghamshire should be one of the few laggards), and it is most encouraging to see the figures of the growth in recent years of their basic grants from the Arts Council: 1970–71, £285,000; 1971–72, £405,500; and for 1972–73 the grant will be £700,000, or perhaps a little more.

My Lords, this is no Party matter. My noble friend (if I may so call her without regard to the conventions of this Chamber) Lady Lee of Asheridge did great work in fostering this field all over the country while she was the Minister responsible for the Arts. My noble friend the Paymaster General, as the figures show clearly, is continuing it, following out the thought expressed by the Prime Minister when he said in the debate on the Address last November in another place: … we are increasing our support for the Arts and crafts, we are putting special emphasis on building up the regional organisations for the Arts, because we believe that it is in this way that we shall best transform all these areas".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 2/11/71, col. 46.] This is a policy that is shared by all Parties; a policy that we should all wish to support in any way we can. I should like to see what already in some places exists: a system within the regions of cross-representation and coordination between all the various bodies in the region, whether they be concerned with music, museums or galleries, with drama, films or crafts, or indeed with any other aspects of the environment; a system which will enable the Regional Associations to take a larger part in fertilising the artistic life of the community. That is what is needed, and that is what I am sure we shall see developed in the years before us.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, I think I should begin by declaring an interest, in so much as I am a member of the Arts Council; and while I am saying that, I might perhaps get rid of one tiny, minor misunderstanding. There is not a completely clear distinction between the central organisation of the Arts Council and local authorities acting with regions on the other side. In fact, the Arts Council in their central activities have many arrangements with regional authorities in supporting repertory theatres, musical companies and the like. So let us not make the thing too black and white. That is a pure matter of practical administration. The second interest I should declare is that I am actually a member (and I think deputy chairman; I am not quite sure of that) of the committee which looks after the finances of the Regional Arts Associations, and I should not be doing that unless I were convinced that this is a good thing, unless there were great value in Regional Arts Associations and unless we could, with good fortune and not too great an excess of optimism, make something successful out of them.

We have listened to a more brilliant, spectacular, dazzling defence of high artistic appreciation from the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, than most of us are ever likely to hear. I have never liked public utterance much. and after listening to that, I have decided that I shall probably cease from it altogether. In fact, all he says is true; and it is most important that, whatever we do, we do not destroy, tamper with or corrode the very high level of artistic achievement which the Arts Council have encouraged and in part promoted.

There are incidental sillinesses—there are bound to be in any human activity—some of which were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. These are things which will happen. We are all irritated by them and we all do what we can to see that they do not happen. That is rather a small feature in the whole exercise. There is, however, a difference between the case for the appreciation of high art and that for the making of art. It is here that I find myself rather deeply involved with the Regional Arts Associations. There are considerable differences in development between the appreciators of art and the individual persons who make it. This is particularly true of the solitary artist. While orchestral music, opera and drama need collections of people working in groups with elaborate apparatus and much money, individual and solitary artists, like painters and writers, need no such things. They are usually quite different persons; they do not like to work in groups. On the other hand, they have their own importance—at least, I hope so; certainly they think they have. It is about them, since they are the only ones I know about, that I wart to say a few words.

I believe that there is a truth implicit in the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, and the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles. It is that there is too much homogeneity in our entire artistic situation. It is a curiosity of this country that, for historical and social reasons, high art has been uniform over the country and for as long as one can go back we have had no real regional differences. This is a fact. It would in my view do us a great deal of good to have the kind of differences that are to be found between the Jewish art of New York, the art of the Southern States South of Tennessee and the art of the West Coast of America. Here we have none of these things. Here there has been no regional art for as long ago as I can envisage. What we call regional art is something different. It is the story of the young man coming from the North, poor, making his way, coming and capturing the town. David Copperfield is a Southern example of this; but there are many in contemporary literature. This is what we call regional art; but it is not. It is really class art, owing to the extreme stratification of our class structure. It is nothing like so evident in the literature of any other country that I know.

This is a handicap to us. We could do with fertilisation from different parts of the country. Unfortunately, the country is much too small. Despite the strictures of the noble Lord, Lord Foot, about the isolation of the South West, the country is no bigger than a pocket handkerchief. That means that the magnetic attraction of London is stronger than that of any other capital city in the world. In Paris, it is still possible to write about Bordeaux—indeed one of the greatest French novelists set all his work in and around Bordeaux. It is still possible to write about Provence. In Germany, the same is true owing to both the history and the geography of the country. Here the situation is different.

Here I see a real place for Regional Arts Associations if they have imagination, leadership and some money. I believe that money, administration and buildings we could all cope with—and if not we ought to be thrown out and others should occupy our positions on the Arts Council and in Government. But the actual impresario-like activity of encouraging talent, of bringing out talent—that, I believe, is a point to which we should direct the attention of the Regional Arts Associations. It is far from easy, but it would do a great deal of good if it could happen. We must even occasionally try to encourage writers—this cannot be done by legislation or by money—to continue to reside in the districts where they were born. Scottish writers do it, the Welsh do it; but it is very rare in England. I was born in the Midlands but I have lived in London for much the largest part of my life.

While what I have just said is generally true, there are one or two exceptions. The Northern Arts Association for example—which seems to be on the whole the most successful of those I know—has at least one or two writers and good novelists who still live in and around Newcastle and who have every intention of remaining there. The Arts Association of which the noble Lord, Lord Boyle of Handsworth, spoke also has one or two writers who have resisted the temptation to move—perhaps they do not feel it. A corps of a few people can make an immense difference. It is possible to create a whole artistic society out of two or three people of talent, a certain number of people round them and a certain number of spotters of talent. Spotters of talent are just as important as is talent itself. Again, Regional Arts Associations ought to be on the look-out for anyone with this peculiar intuitive gift.

It is highly desirable that we should encourage all these Arts Associations to believe that it is possible to have an artistic life—in a sense not completely divorced from London but at least with a respectable independence of it. It is a great pity that reviewing in local papers has become more scarty and, on the whole, much less interesting than it was when I was a young man. A few good, credible writers and spotters of talent could alter that state of affairs within a few years. I believe that here, with just a little effort, the Regional Arts Associations could play a part which would do a great deal of good. This could be helped, too, by the universities. I suspect that they have a part to play in the development of the regional arts rather as they have in parts of the U.S.A. The difficulty here is that, with characteristic English irony, in an attempt to make us as homogeneous as possible we are always moving people from one part of the country to another when they go to university. In our passion for residential education we put people in the train from Newcastle and send them to Exeter, and we send others from Exeter to Newcastle to get the same education. That is a different argument but I am sure it would be valuable if the universities had some slightly stronger regional sense than they have and if they regarded it as one of their duties to try to act as promoters or sponsors of the individual artist in general.

Art is a big word. It encompasses quite different things. Writers and painters are very different from producers of plays or arrangers for orchestras. With these qualifications and with these warnings—we must not be too hopeful—I am very strongly in favour of spending more money on the Regional Arts Associations. We should not spend less on London, and if possible more; but certainly more on the Regional Arts Association.

I will finish by relating a rather absurd experience yet it is one that brings out a little of what I am saying. For my sins, I have walked around innumerable factories in the Soviet Union. I have never yet been to one factory there which had not its artistic circle and writers' club; and once or twice in these writers' clubs I have met people of high talent. One later got a national, and almost an international, reputation. Remember that the idea that high art exists on its own is a mistake. High art, in literature at least, often comes out of a whole mass of indifferent people trying with more energy than talent and more ambition than either. But it is out of that attempt that the really important people finally emerge. So, my Lords, with not too much hope but with resolve I believe that this is well worth trying.

6.31 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad to have been in the House long enough to hear some seven or eight of the previous speeches, and not least, the one made just now by my old friend and tutor the noble Lord, Lord Snow. If at one point I seem to separate the Arts Council and Regional Arts Associations too much, I hope and believe that I do not come under his censure. More positively I hope to support his notion of, his plea for, regional art and its importance and to develop that point just a little from a particular approach.

In expressing my appreciation of what I have heard I must also express my great regret and apologise to the House because I could not be present for the earlier part of the debate. Like other noble Lords I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, for mounting this debate and giving an opportunity to publicise these Regional Arts Associations; to appraise their contribution to our national and regional life and to recognise in this way their significance—I would hope, their increasing significance—and to take stock of the situation generally. I am particularly glad to say something from a North-East point of view. As the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, reminded us, what was then called the North-Eastern Association for the Arts was born there somewhat over ten years ago, as a unique experiment in stimulating artistic activities. There, in the North-East, the idea of the Regional Arts Associations was born. Its overall aim was to give pleasure, not to an exclusive few but to many; to help to transform the interests of individuals and to broaden the horizons of the whole region.

I am not surprised, but certainly highly gratified, to know that Northern Arts, as it is now named, has provided in that way a helpful model, and even personnel—we have heard mention of the name of Mr. Dunbar—for many other parts of the country. I hope it is in regional terms that our artistic concerns will be developed. But to take the North-East as a standpoint from which to review the Regional Arts Associations is to be at once aware of questions that the sponsorship of the Arts inevitably brings out in a region where industrial, economic and social problems are rife, and where serious and devastating unemployment is no novelty of the last twelve months.

In this context some might say—indeed, some do say, "Are not the Arts a luxury? Must not jobs have top priority and wages be our major concern?" And in a world where poor productivity is a deadly sin some would say, "Have we not sin at its deadliest when we support art, which is entirely unproductive?" Have we now, so to say, unexpected economic support for a puritanical suspicion of the Arts and artistic endeavour? It is, I say, in the North-East that those objections gain their most powerful thrust; but, for that very reason, it is in the North-East that the answers can best be given. For what is increasingly evident is that what at the end of the day matters most, as an area like the North-East is being economically transformed rapidly—though not as rapidly as some of us would wish—is not just its life, in the sense of its breathing or even its economic prosperity, but its quality of life and its true well-being.

The contribution of Northern Arts to the economic conditions of the region is not that it provides, so to say, an escape-hatch to make life tolerable especially for people, mainly the young, who are tempted to emigrate, a sort of "pie in the High Street" instead of "pie in the sky"; the contribution of Northern Arts is not that it encourages the wives of executives to persuade their husbands, or rather to allow their husbands, to bring them to the North or that they will all be persuaded to move North if there are opportunities to hear the Northern Symphonia Orchestra, or to attend the Billing- ham International Festival or to see the British première of the National Ballet of Amsterdam in Sunderland or exhibitions of Japanese prints in Cumberland. All those events may, in fact, have that beneficial result for those tempted to escape from the region, or for those wives who can be persuaded, with their husbands, to go there. But while those events may have that result the contribution of the Arts, North, South, East or West, is something far deeper and far more important and much more far-reaching than those reflections might suggest. Regional Arts Associations are active reminders that our common life—acknowledging all that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Snow—is best understood even now regionally, and that without the Arts there will be no inspiration to our common life—which means no true satisfaction and no fulfilment and no self-realisation; which in turn will be shown in industrial and social discontent of which we have indeed many evidences around us.

In fact with the North-East in mind—if I may introduce what is possibly a slight note of dissent with respect to the publicity for Northern Arts—I sometimes find it written that the region is not noted for its cultural traditions, which is a rather polite way of saying something not quite so attractive. I recognise the facts which lie behind that remark. They were, of course, just as true of South-West Lancashire in my boyhood as they have been of the North-East for a long time. That is why, in particular, I am glad to think that something like 3,000 people come to see Auckland Castle where I live and such artistic treasures as the Zurbaran pictures. All that being granted, there were nevertheless in the North-East cultural traditions and, in a way, notable cultural traditions. which, in a past age, represented the total response of man to his environment: linking work, home, recreation, the cobblestones, the whippets, the rivers, the slag heaps and the moorland. The trouble is that that cultural synthesis has now fragmented and what I applaud and support the Regional Arts Associations for, in particular in the North-East, is that they represent in our own day an essay towards a new synthesis: an endeavour to bring men in those areas to a fullness of life, to a self-realisation, where there shall be no hard and fast contrast between work and leisure, drudgery and entertainment, technology and the Arts, science and religion.

I hope it is significart that I share with the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York a chaplain for the Arts and recreation, and that we are developing an Arts centre in an old rectory not far from Tees-side. All this is to say that I see these Regional Arts Associations as social and cultural movements of the highest significance which bring together and, so to speak, epitomise the whole life of the region—bringing together industry, commerce, local authorities, trade unions, universities, mass media, in a common and well-recognised task. But what I, and I am sure Regional Arts Associations would like to see, is that when these members are brought together in a common task it should not only show itself in financial support and administrative planning.

My point is that in a way these groups should so co-operate with each other as to share in a much deeper and much more far-reaching task—what the noble Lord, Lord Snow, called regional art—working in this way even more creatively for the wellbeing of the region by discovering ways in which the Arts themselves can build on the technology of the regions to produce new artistic forms and new possibilities. For instance, I should like to see Close the Coalhouse Door, bringing together as it did social and industrial change and human aspirations, matched by (shall I call it?) Open the Crucible; open up the chemical synthesis, new techniques in the manufacture of steel, and somehow develop art forms around these forward-looking themes. The Regional Arts Associations, not least in industrial areas like those in the North-East, have, it seems to me, a unique function of outstanding importance in pointing towards and working towards this new culture of which so many of our struggles to-day are but the birth pangs. It means indeed that Regional Arts Associations should be more, not less, regional in character, until regional art becomes a real option for the particular region.

But the significance of these associations is not finished yet. The Regional Arts Associations have surely another important contribution to make to our con- temporary society—this time to our social institutions, even when I accept that complicatory analysis which the noble Lord, Lord Snow, rightly mentioned. For each of these Regional Associations combines in what at least can be the best possible way local initiative and central planning, individual responsibility and national help, self-help and central oversight. It was, it seems to me, looking at the matter sociologically, a major breakthrough in the construction of social institutions when the Arts Council agreed to work through Regional Associations. I have no doubt that the degree of local interest and involvement, local influence and the move to regional art, would not have gone as far as it has gone and I hope will go without the local roots and local responsibilities that these Regional Associations demand, discover and encourage. If we value, as I hope we do, this local interest, this local dimension, these local possibilities; if we see that it is especially in terms of the local situation that our best hopes for the contribution of the Arts to our national life will be fulfilled—and here one comes to the nub of the question—could not this be shown in a much more decentralised finance?

I do not wart to be narrowly provincial or to introduce a jarring note, as it were, in respect of London, though I do not spend in London quite the same number of days as the noble Lord, Lord Snowa I was very encouraged by what he was saying in this connection. I recognise that Northern Art is receiving something like £115,000, well ahead of other regions, which might be as low as £13,000 or perhaps on average £50,000. But what is £115,000 and those other regional grants in relation to the total grant? While obviously it is all national money, it is collected from all the regions. As the noble Lord, Lord Snow, said, I do not wart London to have less, but I passionately hope that the regions will have more. But the arithmetic of the matter is sufficiently clear for it to be seen that those desirable ends cannot be obtained unless there is more money all round.

The Regional Arts Associations are to be a forward movement, a catalyst for a healthier society of the future, matching central planning with local initiative, giving a humane dimension to technology, encouraging regional art. They will need all the finance, and indeed all the publicity, that we can give them. While their work will always and obviously be rightly and primarily to stimulate and encourage enthusiasm, ingenuity, enterprise and energy in many people, there must be the administration and the finance adequate to a task of this magnitude. Belonging to an institution, if I may say so with my fellow Bishops on the Bench, where most projects have to be organised on a shoestring—and indeed sometimes we look in vain even for the shoestring—I greatly hope that the Regional Arts Associations can fare better. I do not see an association as a mere organisational device—though in saying that I do not think ill of organisation and administration. The Arts Associations will not be guilty of talking as though there were a gulf between artistic excellence and commercial efficiency and realism. What I say is that the Regional Arts Association should have such staff and such administrative support as makes the more possible what I see to be their unique, far-reaching, forward-looking function in so far as they aim at integrating the life of the whole machine, and, whether through their social structure or their art forms, bringing to that region fulfilment of life and self-realisation to its people.

I should like to conclude with just a picture. Your Lordships will, I think, hardly disagree that Durham Cathedral has been, and is, one of our greatest artistic treasures. When I say that I do not forget York Minster—not least in the presence of the most reverend Primate. But I recall first seeing Durham Cathedral some forty years ago, for the first time, from a train, as do so many, and wondering what it stood for to the people around it. There, with its castle on the rock, was it integrated with what were then the smoking chimneys of the houses below? I am glad to think that the answer would have been more rather than less. Likewise, as I approached York this morning on the train from the North, the same kind of thought came to me, as it comes to me many times as I approach York and see York Minster majestic on the horizon. As I look across from the train, it rises above what?—the sewage works. Some might find that a jarring, if not an offensive contrast. But what we need to do surely is so to develop the Arts within society, so to inspire men by regional Arts within a region, that it becomes easier, and not harder, to overcome that kind of reaction: to see arts and technology together, recreation and work together—yes, worship and sanitation together: for the word "sanity" should characterise both—as the way to a humane and fulfilling existence. It is because I see these Regional Arts Associations as of unparalleled significance in this task of synthesis that I hope, whether by finance or other means, they will be encouraged to become increasingly autonomous so that they can play an ever-effective role in this search for a new culture and this pilgrimage towards a better humanity.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, greatly to my regret, duties in another part of the building prevented my hearing all but two of the earlier speakers. I had the pleasure of hearing Lord Feversham's opening speech and that of my noble friend Lady Lee. I am extremely sorry to have missed almost all of the Paymaster General's speech, and especially sorry not to have had the opportunity of listening to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. I felt that it would be wrong for such a debate to pass without having some reference to Wales. I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, is to follow me, so that there will he two Welsh voices at least in the chorus this afternoon. This seems entirely appropriate in our discussion on the Arts outside London, which is what we are really talking about to-day. How many societies are there in the world where the national heroes—apart from those who perform at Cardiff Arms Park—are those who are crowned or chaired Bards? That is absolutely true of the Welsh-speaking community in Wales. The people who have their moment of glory and stand out in the Welsh-speaking society of Wales are those who have composed the ode or the epic which is adjudged the best at our great national Eisteddfod. I repeat that there are not many societies which have those values.

The interesting thing about Wales is that the indigenous arts are those of an impoverished community—poetry and choral singing—neither of which requires expensive equipment. It is partly because of this that we have been until fairly recently so much lacking, in buildings especially, which the performance or display of other Arts would require. Space is required and, so far as drama or opera is concerned, relatively elaborate equipment. It is for that reason that no country has greater cause for gratitude to the Arts Council than Wales, because within the last decade we have at last been obtaining very much improved opportunities for the other performing Arts. This has been done in a very interesting way, particularly in collaboration with the university colleges. We are a small country, with a total scattered population of some 2¾ million, though perhaps not quite so awkward in shape as the area in the South-West described by the noble Lord, Lord Foot. We have many of the same problems: sparsely populated rural areas, and so on. Therefore, I think that the theme for us in Wales is that all those who are concerned in the Arts or with artistic endeavour should collaborate to the greatest possible degree and use their facilities to the full by means of co-operative arrangements.

We are especially happy now that we have a new hall at the University College in Cardiff; we have a great hall and theatre under construction at the University College of Aberystwyth, a new theatre in the University College of Bangor in North Wales and, by no means least, we have a small theatre being built with considerable help from the Arts Council at the Adult Residential College at Harlech. All these are already beginning to make a great difference to the opportunities available to people in those parts of Wales to experience the best of artistic endeavour. I do not think that any one of these projects could have come about without the encouragement and financial help which has been received by the Arts Council. We are indeed grateful.

I should now like to say a word or two about the subject of our debate to-day: the Regional Arts Associations. We have in Wales the Welsh Arts Council—we are already decentralised to that degree—but this is of course a national and not a regional institution. Within the Principality we have two associations of the kind that we are discussing to-day, one covering the six North Wales counties and the other covering the three Western counties and also West Glamorgan, including Swansea. Therefore, three-quarters of Wales—in area though not in population—is covered by these organisations. We have not so far established an Association for the South-Eastern part of Wales which would include Cardiff and Newport. This is partly because of the concentration in Cardiff, naturally enough, of many facilities. For that reason, it has perhaps proved to be more difficult to establish any separate Association in that area.

The North Wales Association is supported by all but two of the six local authorities involved. I myself regret that these two local authorities have not played their full parts. I know they have reasons which seem good to them, but an undue burden falls on their neighbours if they do not participate fully. So far as the West Wales Association is concerned, I am happy to say that all the local authorities in that area do play their parts. Notwithstanding this, I know that the Welsh Arts Council are somewhat concerned that they have to contribute out of their funds to the two Welsh Associations roughly in the proportion of five parts of their annual revenue to two parts coming from local resources. I understand that this compares roughly with the one to one ratio of the majority, at least, of the English Associations. As I have said, this causes concern to the Welsh Arts Council. On the other hand, we must recognise the characteristics of those parts of the Principality. For the most part, they do not have very much in the way of large-scale or heavy industry, and there are considerable physical difficulties related to the scattered population.

I think this raises some other problems concerning the relationship between the Arts Council and the Associations. We have heard a great deal today about the desirability of autonomy for the Associations. I can understand that, but if one is looking at it in the context of the more thinly populated parts of the country and not the great conurbations or industrial areas, then complete autonomy does not make much sense. For example, we in Wales must work very closely with the Welsh Arts Council to make any sense at all. I can instance as one problem the relationship with the Welsh National Opera Company. When this company performs as a full company in Cardiff, Swansea or in the summer season at Llandudno, it is under the direct sponsorship of the Welsh Arts Council, who look after the whole operation and finance it. But when they send out the smaller company, such as Opera for All, to the smaller centres, this becomes the responsibility of the Regional Association. Plainly you must have very careful dovetailing in a situation of that sort.

Similarly, the Regional Associations simply are not large enough or strong enough to sustain much in the way of specialist officers of their own and they must depend largely on the specialist staff which serves the Welsh Arts Council. I do not wart to labour the point unduly, because it must be applicable to many other parts of the country; but certainly in Wales we have a particular problem of co-ordination. While local initiative is extremely important and in fact is being shown already in the two Associations that we have, we should not stress autonomy to the point of deluding ourselves into supposing that the. Associations in Wales are likely to be strong enough, financially or otherwise, to stand entirely independently. Very careful co-ordination with the Welsh Arts Council, as I said, seems to be essential.

I am happy to tell your Lordships that we have a good deal of local initiative in certain areas. If I may be forgiven for speaking for just one moment about my former constituency in Flintshire, we have there a quite notable example of a local authority which not only supports the North Wales Association but is also embarking upon some very ambitious schemes of its own, including a £750,000 project for a new theatre to house between 500 and 600 people, a theatre workshop, and so on. I am sure this will receive support from the Welsh Arts Council, possibly from the Housing of the Arts Fund. I am delighted to find that this very progressive council is undertaking this admirable scheme as part of its total civic complex, including the new civic buildings, the new county library organisation, the very fine new law courts and other administrative buildings. They have properly said that this great civic complex will not be complete unless we make provision for the Arts. This seems to be wholly admirable. One may admit that Flintshire is perhaps more fortunate than some parts of Wales owing to its proximity to the English Border; it has within a 20-mile radius a catchment area of about 1½ million people, and it is able to embark on more ambitious schemes than other parts of North or West Wales may be able to do.

My Lords, I should like to conclude with the thought on which I started. In our small community, co-operation between the various bodies concerned with the Arts is of paramount importance. I am encouraged to say this by the Report from the Arts Council which, as the Paymaster General said in his remarks, we have only just received. I received it half an hour before this debate, but I have had an opportunity to look at the pages concerning the work of the Arts Council in Wales, and I was interested to see that the Report makes this point: While the Welsh Arts Council and Regional Arts Associations may be the only public agencies committed entirely to the encouragement of the Arts, there are several other bodies in Wales which directly or indirectly also have responsibility for promoting or encouraging the Arts". They are referring to the local authorities, the universities and other institutions of higher education, the broadcasting and television services, the National Museum, and so on.

They go on to say: Collectively these investors spend large sums of money on the Arts. Compared with England, their resources are not large, and whereas in England they can afford to function separately, it is clear that more could be achieved in the Arts in Wales if these agencies were committed to a pattern of co-operation in respect of ambition and effort and did not continue to function completely separately in Arts provision and patronage". That is very true and wise in our circumstances in Wales. I am sure that the Welsh Arts Council are doing their best to encourage such co-operation, and I hope that the other bodies concerned will reciprocate.

We have in miniature in Wales the same problem as one has in the United Kingdom as a whole. However anxious one is to foster artistic endeavour and appreciation at the periphery, one really cannot do that at the cost of sacrificing certain national institutions. I am thinking particularly of the Welsh National Opera Company. This is something of which we in Wales have every right to be extremely proud. It has reached very high standards; it has recruited its own orchestra for the first time recently; it supplies some of the finest singers, both principals and chorus, to Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells. We must not stint the Welsh National Opera Company. I am sure that the Arts Council nationally are fully aware of this. It is a constant struggle to keep the Welsh National Opera Company solvent, or anything approaching it. We must make certain, whatever else we do, that we do not allow an institution which has developed so splendidly as this has done to founder. I am sure that we shall not do so. We must recognise that, however much we do elsewhere in Wales where we have a particular sphere of excellence, as in the Welsh National Opera, which I think we can rightly claim to be outstanding, we must make certain that our policy is such that it is maintained and fostered.

7.4 p.m.


My Lords, as the hour is late, I propose to keep the House for only a few minutes. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, for having put down the Motion on the Order Paper on the work of the Regional Arts Associations. No doubt when he was referring to regions he had in mind certain parts of England. I hope he will not mind the country of Wales joining in this debate so that we may say something about the Welsh Arts Council and its work. The Welsh Arts Council has divided Wales into three regions; two of these Arts Associations are already operating and a third will be doing so by the end of the year.

The Welsh Arts Council have been a very active organisation. I was delighted when the Paymaster General paid tribute to the chairman, Colonel William Crawshay, and for what he has done during the past four years. He has given a great amount of time and energy, at, I am sure, great personal cost, to the Arts in Wales and I should like to express on behalf of everybody our thanks to him for what he has done. The Welsh Arts Council have a great deal to their credit. I am sure that the policy to do in Wales as you have done in London—that is, to retain the national institutions to be looked after by the Arts Council, and for the setting up of the Arts Associations—is the right one. The Welsh Arts Council, I am sure, must continue to be responsible for the Welsh National Opera Company. I support what the noble Baroness, Lady White, has said: that this is something which started a long time ago almost on an amateur basis. If ever this was allowed to fail or founder it would be an absolute tragedy because the singers and performers that we have produced in Wales, through the Welsh National Opera Company, have been quite outstanding. It is right that Arts Associations shall go on and do more to support the other types of Art that we have: local arts such as local repertory theatre, local galleries, music and drama festivals. How right the Paymaster General was when he referred to those areas of high unemployment, with their areas of dilapidated, old buildings, such as in the valleys of South Wales. It is indeed difficult to get chief executives and their families to take up positions with companies in those areas. I can speak of this from personal experience from companies with which I am associated.

However, the Arts Associations must have the full support of local authorities and it is disappointing, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, said, to hear that some of these local authorities have not been helping as they might have done. I believe that when these Regional Arts Associations are fully operational the interests of the local authorities will be alerted, and they will no doubt contribute to their local arts when it can be seen that their ratepayers are receiving a direct benefit, and having the Arts brought right into their county towns in that way. It is in these local groups of artists, musicians and writers that the inspiration for the Arts starts to grow and should be cultivated. From these local areas Wales has already provided many great singers and actors for the Arts in this country.

In the 25th Report of the Arts Council—that is the one before that which was handed to us as we came into this debate—I note that the section relating to Wales refers to the desperate lack of facilities for promoting the Arts. By this I presume they mean theatres, galleries and exhibition halls. I should like to make what I hope is a practical proposal to help these needs. In April, 1974, we shall have local government reform: in Wales we have at present 181 county boroughs and district councils, and this number will be reduced to seven county councils and 36 district councils. Nearly all these existing councils have council chambers and many other buildings in our local towns, and if the reform of local government is to achieve its real objective there must be many council chambers and other buildings which will no longer be required. These could be used by the local Arts Associations.

Most of these council chambers and buildings are in the centre of the towns; they have all the necessary facilities, car parks, et cetera. Many of them can be adapted quite easily into small theatres and galleries. Here is the opportunity—particularly for those local authorities who will not contribute money—for these facilities to be made available to the Arts Associations for a nominal rent with the maintenance dealt with by the local authority. I know that some towns in fact have two or three council chambers, and I think that in the end they wart either one or none, and a good many of these buildings could be made available for good use. Perhaps the same conditions apply in England, and I suggest that the Arts Council certainly should give thought to this idea at an early date, if they have not already done so.

The University of Wales, as we have heard, are already helping in making available the theatres at Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff, and they should receive our thanks for this very practical help. Large sums of money have been spent on our universities and our schools, and when we consider for how short a time in the year they are being fully used we see that far greater use might be made of their buildings and facilities. When the number of county councils in Wales is reduced to seven they will be larger and will perhaps regard matters with a completely different outlook. Then, I think, they will all contribute to these local art councils and associations, and I am sure they will benefit from them.

7.13 p.m.


My Lords, I remember that when we nationalised coal (I was then in the House of Commons) I got a letter from a constituent who made biscuits. He sent me a tin box with a letter on top. I noticed that he was a biscuit manufacturer so I thought, "How nicea I haven't been in the House of Commons five minutes and he recognises my virtues already." But he pointed out that what was inside the box was something quite different; it was like solidified mud. And he went on to say, "I don't suppose that this letter will have any practical result whatever, but at any rate it has allowed me to let off steam, which is more than my boiler will do with your bloody coal." I do not suppose the practical result of what I have to say will matter very much, but I feel moved to speak and not go off back to my late constituency—where there are big goings on in the art world this week—because it is now too late.

After nearly 50 years of experience I see this matter a bit differently from some of your Lordships. I see the trend and the movement that is taking place not only in population and in politics and everything that has to do with it; as a movement towards a more equalitarian society and the necessity for people to understand how to cope with it. Up to now we have had three great movements in population and economics. The first one was when the populations increased rapidly in the Industrial Revolution and were gathered together, in towns and cities, round the places where they worked and communities were living. They were very strong communities, too. The second movement occurred when the railways came and the population followed along the tracks. The third was the coming of the motor car and the urban sprawl, which I think all of us in this House to-day have seen for ourselves. But I reckon that the problem that is imminent and really upon us is what we are going to do about leisure.

Much has been said to-day about the relationships of the Regional Arts Associations and London; about the Arts Council and the money that is spent on Covent Garden and so on. I remember joining with Ellis Smith, the late Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, in a tirade against the cost of Covent Garden Opera. Well, I think there is place for both. Anybody in the regions who is thinking of supplanting the Arts Council as it is at the moment really ought to think again. The Arts Council has done one of the most magnificent jobs that I ever remember in terms of social benefit. I went into Lancashire as a conductor of a choir which became an opera company in 1925. It started from very small beginnings, eventually getting on to the stage of the local theatre in Oldham, making money on the more popular shows and spending it all on producing Grand Opera.

The social problems connected with that choir have remained with me always. I used to knock on doors and ask if Jack was in—I had heard that he was a good tenor singer: would he come and join the opera company? Noa Jack would not come to join any opera company. He was not at home in the presence of those who were employed. There was a snobbery between the employed and the unemployed, and he was an unemployed: he had only one pair of trousers and he was not coming. What a job it was over those yearsa But we eventually won through and persuaded the two to mix.

There was no encouragement from the Arts Council then. There was not an Arts Council. We had to do it on our own; and we did. We used to have a standing arrangement with the Carl Rosa Opera Company that if we could not cast the parts as they should be cast then they would step in and help us.

Mention has been made of the amateur. The amateur creates audiences for the professionals. The performance of young players, too, is nothing like it was when I was young. To-day they are sophisticated; their technique is superb. If your Lordships had been at the Free Trade Hall last Saturday night to listen to young people in an orchestra—60 of them, with a forty choir, coming from one school, the Cheetham's Hospital School in Manchester—you would have been amazed. Some of them were no more than eleven years old. Mature even at that age. Some of our amateur opera companies, too, are really first-class. There is one in our village. I would not have thought, for instance, that we could have produced an Adele or Rosalinde in a production of Die Fledermaus in our village, so superb as we did a few weeks ago. Indeed, the quality of the performance was such that the production was fit to take anywhere.

The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, who is now standing listening at the other end of the Chamber, made some nice comments in appreciation of the Hallé Orchestra. In those days of poverty and unemployment, it was possible to get the 32 players for £135 for six performances for the complete week. Now the sum would be more like £500 or £550. That is the difference between now and the makeshift way in which we had to cope in those days. Which leads me to my next point. I do not know where these Arts Council reports get to or who reads them, but I have one here that I have read. It is the opera and ballet report of the United Kingdom and it carries the signatures of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and Lord Harewood. It is a fine document for the future. It is a document that I take very seriously, long term, perhaps, but it is one that should give us heart and encouragement to be more adventurous. And if we are not adventurous at this stage in our democracy it is questionable whether we ever shall be.

I was inspired by that document; I remember what it said. And when I was Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire I was emboldened to ask the leaders of four major authorities in the North-West—Lancashire, Cheshire, Liverpool and Manchester—to join me and other persons knowledgeable about operas, such as conductors and business managers of the Liverpool Philharmonic and the Hallé Orchestras; the heads of music from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester; and the head of the recently amalgamated College of Music and the Northern School of Music, to look into the need, the potential and the financing of those opera houses and opera companies based on the North-West. People like Sir Maurice Pariser, who for years blazed the trail for improved standards and quality of living in the North—people of that calibre make an impression on whole communities and it can last for a generation. I confess that a bit rubbed off on me. Their response was instant. It was enthusiastic, and they readily agreed with me that such an examination should take place. They set up a working party which produced a unanimous report at the end of last year. They said that there was a need. They agreed with the report made by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, that there was a need for a new purpose-built opera house designed to the highest standards, which would hold a new opera company. I cannot say what their actual recommendations were, because the report is now in the hands of the local authorities concerned.

We have gone even further, and to the North-West Regional Arts Association I am indebted for having had a seminar in September at which Lord Harewood took the chair and which included the whole of my committee, consisting of the heads of the education services in the two cities and the two counties. The subject of that seminar was the formulation of an opera company. We know the experience of the Scots, we know, the experience of the Welsh and we are not disposed to make many of the same mistakes. We are going very steadily; it may take us a long time but I hope that eventually our recommendations will be accepted. The seminar asked the same working party to go into the question of cost, administration, the cost of the necessary accommodation; whether existing theatres could be used, whether there could be an arrangement with existing opera companies, storage, working out a scheme for defraying costs before we do anything at all. This inquiry is well on the way, and the report will be brought to my committee at Manchester Town Hall on April 28. I will not say anything more about it now.

I should like to finish by indicating some practical things that the Regional Arts Associations are attempting to do. These associations are comparatively new organisations, but they are learning fast and there is no doubt that they can be of great assistance to districts like ours all over the areas. We have a population of 20,000 in seven villages. We used to have a festival every five years, but now it is held every four years. To give your Lordships an example of what we put on, last May the English Chamber Orchestra was not too dignified to come to our village to play in the civic hall; neither was the Stratford-upon-Avon Theatre Company, nor many of the top artistes in the country. It is remarkable what development takes place, because after each of these festivals there is an injection of enthusiasm into existing institutions that is absolutely delightful to see. There are the male voice choir, the mixed voice choir, the three arts groups, the little theatre—the local council putting £12,000 in one village into a little theatre which will be rented from the council. A number of societies, historic and otherwise, take part, too. But you have to interest everybody in the district. You cannot just go into such a district and impose art. It is just a waste of time taking a big symphony orchestra to places where the people are not really interested in symphony orchestras. People have to show some eagerness and some desire to do something about it themselves.

I do not agree that old people cannot give some advice, if they have been associated with the work most of their lives. I believe, for instance, that the two last years that children spend at school are vital. It is then that they are brought into the picture of local interest in the Arts: because in two or three years' time those children will have become responsible people, and we wart them to be our audiences of the future. We had the Welsh Opera last Friday night and Saturday night in the village. Twice a year we give performances of "Ballet for All". We are able to do this because of the financial stability that we have and because we involve everybody. Out of a total population of 15,000, I would say that at the festival 2,000 are actually involved. My Lords, I believe that there is a place for the Regional Arts Associations; and working together with the people at grass roots they can do an invaluable service. They should be given more encouragement, but I still think that the strings should he kept with the Arts Council.

7.32 p.m.


My Lords, I apologise for rising earlier; I thought I had missed my cue. I nearly denied the debate a powerful and down to earth contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Rhodes. The noble Earl, Lord Haig, has asked me to apologise on his behalf because he has had to leave for Scotland.

I am very conscious of my severe lack of qualifications for taking part in this debate, but I can only do so in terms of finance, for it seems to me that whenever the Arts are discussed money is discussed in the next breath. I think this debate has been no exception. I wish to speak only very briefly about Scotland. There is not much more to add except my support for the work of the Scottish Arts Council and for the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Haig, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. I can only suggest to your Lordships that the very ambitious programme outlined by Lord Haig seems to me a little unrealistic in terms of finance, and I should like to put forward one suggestion which may be worthy of consideration. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, said that we have our cultural autonomy. This is all very well, except when it comes to finance to supplement the Scottish Arts Council grant. As most of us are aware, a number of local authorities contribute only voluntarily to the Arts in Scotland—and as there are only about four major cities in Scotland there are only four major local authorities that make contributions.

We are talking here about regional art. And if the local authorities paid as little as 2½p in the pound, more than £1 million would be raised annually, and I should personally like to see this sum used to establish a Regional Arts Association in Scotland long before 1975. The noble Earl, Lord Haig, said that we must wait until 1975. I do not see why this is necessary. Inverness would be a very good place to start a Regional Arts Association. They are intending to build a theatre and an Arts centre in Inverness which will be able to serve the Highlands and Islands as well. I do not see why it is necessary to wait until 1975 and the reorganisation of local government before this is done. I think it could he done now and justified on an experimental basis for establishing further regional authorities after 1975.

In the Highlands and Islands we have a native language, Gaelic, which has not been mentioned so far. It is part of our national art that if encouraged and maintained will make us more conscious of our cultural heritage. I should like to feel that any Regional Arts Association would support some of the local folk singing groups which are keeping the language alive. It is increasing in popularity and I hope it will continue to do so. The B.B.C. give good coverage to Gaelic programmes in the North, and in the Borders the local lallans language and the bothy ballads are kept alive by the folk singers and small amateur arts people. I dare to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in that it does not matter if the kind of arts produced are not Arts Council arts or culture. Outside Edinburgh or even Glasgow he might suggest in Arts Council terms that there is a cultural wasteland. I do not believe this to be so, and I think those of us who live there do not think so either. Our local songs, poetry and ballads are as much alive as they ever were.

The support we wart from the Scottish Arts Council or any Regional Arts Association is not necessarily funds to pay for an E string, as Lord Goodman suggested, but some funds to get transport to go on tour and perhaps enough for lubrication en routea This is all that is necessary for promotion of these local amateur groups. The attraction to me of Regional Arts Associations, and I think to many of us who sit on these Benches, is that such funds would not be confined to professions, and I do not see why funds available through a Regional Arts board or the Scottish Arts Council should necessarily be confined to professionals even to-day.

Finally, with the steady growth of leisure, and certainly an increasing number having enforced leisure, including the retired and unemployed in Scotland, there is a pressing case for bringing the Arts or another dimension of living to where people live and not vice versa, and supporting a Regional Arts Association in Scotland before 1975 will be a step towards achieving this.

7.39 p.m.


My Lords, this debate takes me back to 1958 when I was a member of a small committee set up under the chairmanship of the first Lord Bridges. It was at that time that the Gulbenkian Foundation was beginning to operate in this country, and they had asked us how to begin to formulate a policy. We suggested that they should start by looking at the Arts as a field of support. I remember it was about that time that through lack of funds the Arts Council had just withdrawn its regional offices. This put us in some difficulty because we were convinced that the place where the Foundation should spend its funds was in the Provinces. But we took heart for one reason, that we believed that you cannot impose art upon people. Good work as the Arts Council regional offices had done, it was no substitute for local authorities getting together, recognising a need and setting up the necessary administrative machinery to meet that need.

The only regional authority then remaining was I think the South-West Arts Association, and the local authorities at that time were extremely suspicious of it. So Lord Bridges's Committee recommended the Gulbenkian Foundation to provide the salary and expenses of an Arts officer provided that the local authorities got together and actually asked for one. I believe it was partly as a result of that initiative that the present transformation has come about and here I should very much like to pay tribute to the Gulbenkian Foundation for all it has done for art in the past 14 years.


Hear, heara


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, this evening has told us about what is going to be done for the Regional Arts Associations. I am absolutely delighted that they are to receive new encouragement and new help because although they are healthy children they are still pretty lean and hungry children. Their staff are paid too little, their directors have too few staff, but I believe that a new kind of public service is growing up.

I am none too sure myself—perhaps I may just ask Lord Goodman his view on this point—that the training of Arts officers is quite satisfactory at the moment. It must be five years ago since, as I remember, he invited me to lunch with other people to discuss with him this matter of how we were to provide a service in which we could train people in this field. I know that the Arts Council have done a great deal in this respect, and I know, too, that they asked Professor Roy Shaw to look into the present arrangements. I just have the impression that the commercial side of the course is a little inadequate at the moment; and I also suspect that weekend and six-week courses might be better than the longer course at present in operation, if only because the really valuable part of training as an Arts officer is working behind the scenes in a theatre or in an Arts centre and getting your hands dirty.

The truth is that the promotion of the Arts is a job for experts, and it is becoming more and more a job for experts. I believe that in this respect offices in the Regional Arts Associations can discover talent in their region precisely because they are more closely in touch with the localities. This may be becoming more important because touring costs are now astronomical. It costs £25,000 a week, so I am told, to tour Scottish Opera; it costs £12,000 a week to take the company, which numbers only 16, of Ballet for All, and that is, of course, before any salaries are paid. These are straight touring costs. I do not know, but I think it problematical whether it would be cheaper to get companies together in the regions. But surely it is something which we ought to have a look at, which we ought to see in the next 10 years whether we can develop and whether it is cheaper to have regional touring arrangements than necessarily national touring arrangements.

My Lords, this is the point in the debate at which speaker after speaker, after dispensing compliments to the Arts Council, after expressing hopes in the direction of the Paymaster General, and beaming with a general air of benevolence all round, turns with his begging bowl to plead a special case; and I have no shame in doing this because I wart to plead an unpopular case. The unpopular case I wart to plead is the case for London—Greater London. Quite rightly, the needs of the Provinces have been emphasised again and again, but now that Middlesex, metropolitan Essex and parts of Kent, Surrey and Hertfordshire are within the Greater London Council, the 32 boroughs of Greater London are in some respects just as provincial as any other part of the country; and they are as distant as Stockport is from Stoke-on-Trent, or Bath from Bristol or Sheffield from Leeds.

Five million people live in the outer regions of this benighted area. And the Greater London Arts Association, of which (I must declare my interest) I am at the moment, for a very short time, President, employs 70 voluntary officers as members of advisory panels and is spending £25,000 on organising 32 arts festivals and 30 associated events this summer. Three-quarters of these events are bringing in local amateurs—for instance, choirs, orchestras and actors—and the object is to try to persuade the boroughs to contribute more to the G.L.A.A. than they do.

Persuasion is certainly needed, my Lords. This is the one region where support from the local authorities has been deeply disappointing, and I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, is doing his best to stimulate support. The 1972 festivals to which I have referred would never have occurred but for the fact that the Evening Standard financed the central administration, obtained grants from I.B.M., from Guinness and they also had the annual grant from Marks and Spencer. But we cannot rely mainly on support from industry and individuals, and so I look to the centre, to the Paymaster General, to the Arts Council, to see whether something can be done. I was very relieved indeed when I heard that Lord Goodman thought that the citizens of Sidcup were no less deserving than those of Macclesfield. I was delighted to hear his heart beat as poignantly when he contemplated the cultural wastes of Barking as of any other place in the Provinces, and I ask him to clasp to his bosom Norbury and Tooting, Morden and Clapton with exactly the same warmth as he regards the remoter parts of Bootle.

The outskirts of Greater London are in just as much need of small Arts centres as any provincial town. They do not need large theatres, or large buildings; they need small buildings. Of the 120 multi-purpose centres, only six are in Greater London, and that means that one-twentieth of the Arts centres provide for one-sixth of the population. There are so many old people, so many children, so many physically handicapped who get little or no live entertainment in all this great area which lies around the centre of London and which, of course, pullulates with life. So often in these places there is no centre where people can paint or play music, and where local societies can operate. That is the greatest need of all. But every effort requires organisation, and that is where I think that Regional Arts Associations come in. That is where the local communities and societies really get their encouragement.

The great advantage of the Greater London Arts Association is that it is not a pressure group for any vested interest. It is not a statutory body. It is totally independent of local and central Government, and that is a point that has not perhaps been stressed enough to-night. These regional associations are not the servants of the local authorities, any more than they are the servants of the central authorities. In the strictest sense they are go-betweens and they are not dependent for their artistic policy on any outside body. They are midwives, not mothers—at any rate, in London this is so; but I admit that associations differ. Nor, on the other hand, should the Regional Arts Associations be a mere clearing house for grants or an information service.

We have had to-night, it seems to me, a very interesting clash of views between central organisation and regional organisation. This happens again and again in our national life, and there is a great deal to be said for both points of view. I am always being submitted to tremendous attacks in the university world for not coming out as a wholehearted destroyer of the binary system. I agree that the binary system has in it many great defects, but when the people who wart to abolish the system are asked, "Do you wart the University Grants Committee to disappear?" they are sometimes bereft of an answer. This is, of course a problem: how do you judge the central body which is there to provide the standards, which is there to provide the very highest endeavours in a particular walk of life? How do you reconcile this with trying to foster greater regional, local interest?

We all know the problem in government; the Commission which is sitting on the Constitution is, I imagine, obsessed by this problem. Although I am wholeheartedly behind the Paymaster General's desire to increase and stimulate greater incentive in the regions (and there was no real divergence, it seemed to me, between his view on that and his view that the Arts Council central activities should be supported as they have been supported in the past), for once, if I understood his speech aright, we were not being asked to choose priorities; we were being told, "You can have both." I should like an assurance from him this evening, if he can give it, that that certainly is his policy. This is a very interesting and admirable thing if it is so, because of course in nearly every walk of life one is being forced to choose between priorities. In education we are being forced to do this the whole time. I welcome the fact that we are not being asked to do this the whole time in the Arts, because the budget for the Arts is still infinitesimal compared with what it could be and should be.

Having said that, my Lords, let me add that we must not remove from the Arts Council all their power to take initiatives and to support particular branches of art. Of course, the Council must remain as the provider of funds to the great national artistic enterprises; opera, ballet, and orchestras. Of course it must remain as the central supporter of the touring companies. But it must not be deprived of funds to start things, particularly if they are out-of-the-way or unique, or if some odd personality appears like a comet in the skies. This is where a central organisation ought to be able to come in and support that man or woman, and his or her ventures. But let the Arts Council, as well as being the provider of the national artistic concerns, still be able to make forays into the Provinces, including, if I may say so, Greater London. For I have one fear. If you regionalise too far you can make the Arts Council a remote body, If it once became a remote body, if the ordinary locality felt it had no direct contact with the Arts Council of any kind and had always to go through intermediaries, then I believe that we should find hostility and suspicion breeding. And the next step would be discontent and sniping at the central activities which the Arts Council alone can provide. I am sure that this is absolutely remote from what everybody in this House would wish, but there is here a danger of which I think we ought to be aware.

7.54 p.m.


My Lords, we have had an extremely interesting debate. I am the fourth Scot to speak and I shall try not to repeat anything which my noble colleagues have said about the Arts Council in Scotland, I should like to add some comments to the debate because I am deeply interested in the subject and very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, for initiating this discussion. I have also an interest which goes beyond Scotland, because I am very interested in the Arts in the North Riding of Yorkshire. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Boyle of Handsworth (who is not here at the moment), for the reference which he made to Lady Crathorne, my sister, who was the person who helped enormously with the development of the Northern Arts and who also restored the charming and entirely original Georgian theatre in Richmond. This is a very good example of someone working with enormous energy single-mindedly for the Arts in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and in particular of course in the town of Richmond, this lovely ancient city, with its walls and its castle and all the beautiful things that are there, to which is now added the Georgian theatre. This has been a most remarkable success, and the standard of performance of drama in that theatre is absolutely first-class. What is more, it is run entirely for professionals, but run by volunteers who work tirelessly and without any pay in order to organise the theatre. I think that shows what a part a local enterprise can play in a small but beautiful and important area.

I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, One of my colleagues sitting next to me said, "This entertainment needs no subsidy". It certainly was a very entertaining speech. I thought he did less than justice to my noble friend Lord Eccles, because I could not remember anything in my noble friend's speech which could be interpreted as wanting to reduce help to our great national institutions: the great national orchestras, Covent Garden, the ballet and so on. He was urging—and I would support him in this—that in order to back up these great orchestras, in order to have a great public really interested throughout the whole country in the ballet and so on, it is important to spread the interests of the Arts throughout the country. It is not an alternative policy, it is a complementary policy. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, did my noble friend less than justice when he seemed to think that we had to choose between one or the other. What the noble Lord, Lord Annan, has just said is absolutely true: we are not being asked to choose. What we are being asked to do is to support in every possible way we can development of the Arts in this country. Surely none of us could take exception to that. I think it follows on, without any political or Party political bias of any kind, the magnificent policy that the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, pursued when she was the Minister, and which is now followed by my noble friend Lord Eccles, who has more money, not less, for the Arts than even the noble Baroness had—and I thought that she did magnificently. I am only too delighted that we should now have established with both Governments the fact that we wart to do everything we can for the Arts.

A point was raised about amateurs in Art. I should like to say one word about this. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, has talked about the Gulbenkian Foundation, which certainly has done a marvellous job for the Arts. I support everything that he said, but I have been a member of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust since about 1937 or 1938, and that Trust has always supported amateur Art, amateur drama, the small museums, and all the things which are, as it were, not national and not professional in the sense of what we were discussing before about professional Art. The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust has, over many years, done a tremendous amount for amateurs in all fields. I think that is their job. I think that amateurs should be helped by the great Trusts. They can spend their money as they wish it is not public money. We can spend our money on something which fails which, after all is said and done, is always an experiment and always an answer, but it is very difficult for Government funds to be spent unless it is certain that there will be good value in return. I think it is our job, and not the Arts Council's job, to sponsor and to help as much amateur Art as we possibly can. I would say that in the many years during which the Carnegie Trust has been helping amateur Art they have done a marvellous job, and are still doing it since we still spend hundreds of thousands of pounds every quinquennium—our policy is a quinquennial policy—on the Arts.

Much has been said about Scotland, and I agree very much with what the noble Earl, Lord Haig, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, have said. Our Scottish opera is really remarkable, and we are indebted to Mr. Alexander Gibson, a very remarkable musician indeed, who has brought it up to the high standard which it has reached to-day. We are also indebted to Mr. Ronald Mayor, who was for many years Secretary of the Arts Council and enlarged its scope and did a splendid job. I was only too delighted when I heard that Mr. Sandy Dunbar had come to Scotland. because I know what he did in the Northern Arts, when he helped so much with all the work there, including the work which my sister did in the Richmond Theatre. It is up to all of us to back them up.

I am not proud of what the local authorities in Scotland have done for the Arts. I stand in a white sheet here, because I have been a member of a local authority for more years than I like to say, and I can honestly tell your Lordships that the local authority has done practically nothing in the Borders for the Arts. What has been done has been done by volunteers, by trusts and so on, and the local authority does not do what it ought to do. That can be said of all local authorities. Take the case of Glasgow, which is an enormous city: its great concert halls were burnt down ten years ago, but not a thing has been done and the building is a shell, as I saw last week. As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, said, the Citizens' Theatre is threatened with demolition because it will be in the way of road planning, and will have to be rebuilt. We do not do enough for the Arts. Perhaps if we could spread the interest in the Arts throughout the whole of Scotland we might even penetrate the local authorities and get them to do something.

I must confess that I was deeply disappointed when the Edinburgh local authority spent some millions on building an enormous Commonwealth swimming bath plus a huge Commonwealth games area. I agree that they are important, but the building of the opera has probably been put back several years. Speaking personally, I neither run nor jump although I can swim, but I adore the opera and I should greatly prefer to spend money on the opera than on a swimming, bath. That may be a selfish point of view, because I am sure there are far more people who like swimming than listening to the opera. But none of this is the fault of the Arts Council or of any Government; it is the fault of local authorities. As I said, I stand in a white sheet because I am a member of a local authority, but we should push the local authorities far harder for support for the Arts.

In Scotland we have the marvellous Edinburgh Festival and nothing could be more beautiful and more enjoyable, but when it is over there is a drop in art activities and very little follow-up, which is a great pity. Everything which the Arts Council have done in Scotland should be backed up far more by the citizens and by the local authorities. It is true that there are developments in a number of smaller areas. There is the scheme at Haddington, which is both theatre and community centre, on which the Duchess of Hamilton has done such marvellous work. There are also all the festivals at Dunfermline, the home of the Carnegie Trust, and Stirling has a festival; while Pitlochry has a very professional and fine theatre. But I am sure that more could be done and it is up to us who live there to do it. We have first-class people on the Arts Council and we have more money for Scotland than we have had before. It is surely up to us to see that we do everything we possibly can to help.

I admire the reasons of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, for resigning from the board of the Citizens' Theatre. I seldom go to Glasgow now so I do not go to that theatre at all, but I remember very well indeed when it started. It was started in the days when James Bridle was writing plays and there was no other theatre of that kind in Glasgow. It built up a great reputation and was a very important and good theatrical centre. I was sad to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, had to say, and I could not sympathise more with his courage in pulling out of it and in giving the reason why. I am sure that he is right and that I should have felt exactly the same myself.

I think we are fortunate now in having opportunities for further development of the Arts, without this idea of competing, taking money from the centre and giving it to the regions. We can do it all if we mobilise enough interest. But you cannot keep the Arts at the right level of professional skill unless you have the best at the centre. So I strongly support the whole policy of both the Arts Council and this Government in getting more money for the Arts Council and in encouraging us all to spread out into the regions. There is no Party political significance about this and it is something which can be done by everyone who is interested in the Arts. I hope very much that we shall take advantage of both the generosity and the encouragement which we get from this Government, just as we had encouragement from the last Government. This Government are trying to help in every possible way, and I am glad that we have such an authority and such an enthusiastic supporter of the Arts as my noble friend Lord Eccles in charge of the Arts in this country to-day.

8.7 p.m.


My Lords, even at this late hour I make no apology for concentrating my remarks, which I shall try to make as brief as possible, on a branch of the Arts which, on the whole, tends to be somewhat neglected in a debate of this sort. For a very long time the film has been treated in this country, unlike the situation in many other countries, as the Cinderella of the Arts. I am happy to say that the situation has been changing a good deal and that there has been a growing recognition of the importance of the film as art. Creative artists, especially young artists, have increasingly been appreciating its potentiality and the way in which it overlaps all kinds of other Arts, such as painting, sculpture, the graphic Arts. Above all, at the present time it is recognised as a creative art in its own right. In this context I should like to pay tribute both to the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, and to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, for the great encouragement which they have given to this approach.

But there is a regional problem, and this is my justification for making these remarks now. The film is almost entirely concentrated in London. This is a historical and geographical fact. The whole industry is concentrated in and around London. Professional training, including the National Film School, is in the London area; the National Film Archive is here; the British Film Institute and all its services are in London; and the National Film Theatre and, indeed, practically all the other cinemas which specialise in quality films, are in the London area. The problem therefore is: how can we extend the art of the film to the regions? From this point of view one might say that the film has certain advantages. It appeals to comparatively large audiences, though of course we have moved a long way away from the situation of the mass audience which was a familiar phenomenon of the cinema in my youth. Again, the film does not involve the immense cost which would be involved in, for instance, sending an opera touring company around the country. All the same, my Lords, the cost is not by any means negligible. Indeed, commercial men have not so far found any way, outside of London, to cater for a serious interest in quality films. Yet—and this is perhaps something of a paradox—audiences of this kind, interested in this way, are growing. In fact, it can probably he said that there is a larger audience, both actual and potential, for this form of art than for most other branches of the Arts.

What, then, can be done to foster the interest in the film outside London? For historical reasons the Arts Council have not themselves been concerned with fostering the film as such, the historical reason being mainly, I suppose, that the British Film Institute was established many years before the setting up of the Arts Council. That is not to say, however—and I hasten to point this out—that both the British Film Institute and many other aspects of film culture have not received, indirectly at any rate, a great deal of assistance, both from Lord Goodman and from the Arts Council generally. But here I must just say a word about the work of the British Film Institute; and though I am not in any way authorised to speak on their behalf, I do speak as one who has been a governor of that Institute for a good many years. Therefore I am not unfamiliar with their work and the problems with which they have been faced. Though they have had many financial problems, some five years ago, with the encouragement of the noble Baroness, Lady Lee of Asheridge, they launched a regional programme which has made considerable progress. It was inspired by the success of the National Film Theatre in London, not merely as a place where quality films are exhibited but also as a place where there is ample scope for discussion of films, film education, contact between various branches of those working creatively in film, and so on.

The B.F.I. has been instrumental in assisting some forty local authorities in setting up film centres where are exhibited programmes of a kind which aye not normally available outside London, and these programmes are regularly shown. I am happy to be able to state also that this is a continuing process, and on average some five or six new centres are being set up year by year. Indeed, the Institute has gone further than this, because it has set up under its own management three cinemas—one in Newcastle, another in Brighton and a third in Manchester. The policy of the B.F.I. (and, I venture to think, entirely rightly) is one of devolution. They believe that the running and the programming should be in the hands of a local committee. Indeed, it is hoped that in due course the three cinemas that they have themselves set up will be taken over by local interests but with continuing aid from the B.F.I.

Now the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, pointed out in his most interesting speech that there is a serious problem as to how one is to draw together all the different forms of the Arts into some kind of cohesive whole; and there is, in relation to the film, a major task of integrating its promotion as an Art in the individual regions. For this purpose, the obvious bodies are the Regional Arts Associations. The film, within the context of a Regional Art Association, can develop not only as an art form in its own right but also in its relationship to all the other Arts. A first, crucial step for this purpose—and I think one which is entirely recognised by the noble Viscount—is the need for film officers to be appointed and to be attached to each individual Regional Art Association. Some progress has been made in this respect. There has been a joint appointment by the B.F.I. and the Northern Arts Association in Tyneside; and a similar arrangement has been made with the North West Association, centred on Manchester. It is intended in the coming year for film officers to be appointed in a similar way both in Yorkshire and in the area of the Southern Arts Association.

I should like to emphasise at this point what I have already mentioned, and that is that the B.F.I. believes in devolution; but it does not interpret this as simply abandoning the regions to their own devices. There is no doubt whatsoever that in the field of film, as in the other Arts, there is need for some measure of central guidance. Indeed, one can say that the film is something which peculiarly calls for a tremendous range of knowledge and expertise. It is the intention of the B.F.I. to go on providing all possible advisory and technical services in relation to the regions. But then one comes to the unhappy aspect of the subject, to which my noble friend Lord Annan referred so poignantly as "the begging bowl". Of course, in this context, as in other contexts, money is the key. In the last few years the British Film Institute has grown greatly and its grant has been substantially increased, thanks to the energies and good offices of Lady Lee and Lord Eccles. Nevertheless, as will be appreciated, there are many vital competing demands, and we come up against this old bogey, as Lord Annan pointed out, of priorities.

The fact is that the B.F.I. is genuinely seeking to give as much priority as it can, within its limited resources, to this regional need but I think it is fair to say that, despite all that has been done, unless there is some additional injection of funds—not a vast sum of money, but a modest injection of funds, at any rate—progress is likely to be painfully slow. It is vital, if the film as a creative art is to play a fitting role in the context of all the other Arts, on a regional basis, that there should at any rate be sufficient money available within, one would hope, a relatively short space of time for at least a films officer to be appointed to each Regional Arts Association. He can bring to bear a degree of expertise in co-ordinating the interest in the film and all the efforts that are necessary to make people in the area aware of its creative significance in relation to the other Arts. Without that sort of intervention one cannot see any really effective breach in the virtual monopoly that London enjoys at the moment.

Although I appreciate, as no doubt do all noble Lords, the difficulty that arises in regard to priorities, at a time when we are fortunate to have a Minister who is very alive to the great regional problems and who, as I have good reason to know, is particularly aware of it in the context of the film as an Art form, I suggest that the most serious possible consideration be given to affording that extra degree of money which will enable the film to feature on a national basis and not simply be cramped within a metropolitan monopoly.

8.20 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Feversham for giving us the opportunity of discussing this subject to-day. I referred briefly to the matter in a debate I initiated in 1968 on the problems of the South-West. Today, I should like to approach the matter as a "Devon Nationalist", and to my noble friend I would say I am a provincial and proud of it. My credentials are nil other than being president of a local amateur Arts Society and having a genuine interest in the promotion of the Arts in my area. It may be apposite if I told your Lordships what happened last August when I opened a local Arts exhibition at a seaside town. At that time the local council were having a little trouble with their jetty which was getting rusty and so on. Press photographs were taken at the opening and in the local paper the following week there appeared a photograph of me performing this operation. At the head of the adjacent column in heavy type appeared the words, Derelict Pier Declared an Eyesore".

I do not wart to say anything that would overlap the speech of my noble friend and neighbour Lord Foot, but I should like to emphasise that the South-West Arts Association has its headquarters at Exeter. I think it used to be in Bristol. I must say that I am glad it is now in Exeter. I have made reference to the debate on the problems of the South-West, but I would emphasise that whatever organisations we have in that region we in the far South-West would much prefer not to have Bristol as our capital.

Your Lordships at this stage of the debate have heard much about the organisation of the Regional Arts Councils. There is no doubt that we owe a lot to the noble Baroness, Lady Lee, for the encouragement to the Arts given in her time. I trust that when we come to look back on the tenure of office of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, we may be able to say the same—plus the fact that he shifted the emphasis from the over-contribution to the big areas to the impoverished and, in our view, more needful areas in the regions. At present the grant of £30,000 is not adequate. The local authorities' £12,000 helps; but it is somewhat insecure and should be increased—but only if there is an assurance that the ratepayers' money goes to the county that has provided it. It will be difficult to persuade them to contribute to something outside their own area. Collection from other local sources in our part of the world is very difficult. Several noble Lords have referred to the over-emphasis on London. That is not what we are worried about. Our worry is about trying to get our other income, not the Government income, when we do not have locally rich resources. We have one major industry; China clay; whereas the London area is the headquarters of the richest companies in the country.

The grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was a Godsend. We have always had a very large and thriving number of amateur self-supporting societies aiding the Arts. For example, in the small seaside town of Teignmouth there are a thriving arts society, an operatic society and a debating and lecture society. I regret to say that the only member of the South-West Arts Association appears to be the local grammar school. The well-known Dartington Hall led the way, long before the Regional Associations got going, in the Arts in our county. Its music festival, as your Lordships will know, has an international reputation, and its contribution to the Beaford Centre was immense. The Dartington College of Arts is the most appreciative organisation we have towards the work of the South Western Arts Association. As a Devonian I should like to pay a tribute to what Dartington has done for the county in the Arts over many many years. The Beaford Centre and its associated Orchard Theatre Company are the success story of the county. What they have achieved in the wilds of North Devon is highly commendable, to say the least, in bringing art to the villages and the depopulated areas. I should like those noble Lords who have been rather scathing in their references to those of us who live in out of the way places to see and to study those institutions because theirs is a real success story.

The reference I have already made to finance needs some slight expansion. The good work must continue. Let me first affirm what everybody has emphasised today: the firm Government guarantee that what we have been having will be continued and preferably increased. Then we wart a guaranteed percentage from the local authorities. Several factors will need to be taken into consideration in this connection. First, when the reorganisation of local authorities takes place the Arts must not be seen to fall by the wayside. But we must not let ourselves be led away with the idea that local councils should make over all their money for the Arts to the Regional Associations. For example, the Devon County Council is currently contributing about £20,000 to the Arts, but not all to the South West Arts Association. Notably the money is going to the Northcote Theatre, the Beaford Centre and the Dartington Arts Society. As I have said, a county or a local council cannot be expected to make all its contributions to regional bodies which, conceivably, would allocate their finance outside the area.

I have already mentioned the dearth of any real commercial or industrial wealth in our area, and I now turn to the subject of tourism. Tourism and the tourist industry can benefit greatly from having an active Arts organisation in the area in the shape of theatres, exhibitions of painting, sculpture and the like. It has recently been put forward by the C.L.A. (of which I am the county chairman) that we should have a tourist tax, as do so many Continental countries. We put this proposal forward with the idea of helping with the problems of the Dartmoor National Park. I should like to ask: why should it not also be used to finance the Arts in the same region where we have a great deal of tourist activity? This might take some time to introduce, and meanwhile I suggest that the Tourist Board, realising on which side its bread is buttered, should make a substantial contribution to the Regional Arts Association. This should benefit the tourist industry, for although obviously Devon is the best place to go for a holiday, the sun does not shine there all the time.

My Lords, I have made clear what I think is good about the Arts Council and the South-Western Arts Association, but these institutions, being man-made, are not perfect and there are bound to be some criticisms. On the general policy on finance, as I have explained, I disagree with those who think that we in the "nether regions" or whatever you like to call them, should not get a higher proportion of the national cake. Secondly, if you take the Arts as a whole, I feel somewhat unhappy about our areas and the denigration, assistance-wise, of the amateur or quasi-professional vis-è-vis the out and out professional. I know that some people locally think that the South-Western Arts Association is not always the best to judge, and that is bound to happen. Thirdly—and this follows from the previous point—there is an impression that the visual Arts are not getting a fair crack of the whip. Their standard is high, in places very high; as president of the local organisation I can vouch for that. Is it because too large a percentage is representational? Is it because the Arts Council and the South-Western Arts Association wart to encourage that type of Art which only a minimal number of taxpayers and ratepayers understand? I am referring to the type of thing mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. If you are going to try to raise funds locally, that is not the best way to make friends and influence people.

To quote an example, the Association of Devon Art Societies, which has a membership of about 3,000, applied for a grant from the South-Western Arts Association and was turned down. I am not complaining about that, because there is a limited amount of money to go round. The complaint is that it was turned down on the grounds that the overall standard of the exhibition did not justify the expenditure. This was resented, especially by the 60 professional members; and it is interesting to note that associate members include the Plymouth Art Club, whose members have exhibited in their twin city of Brest the Kingsbridge and South Hams Club, which has exhibited in Isygny-sur-Mer, and the Tavistock Art Group which has also exhibited in their twin town in Ger- many. I mention this to show that we were not an area which had not a lot to build on, and that we are worthy of backing. The interesting point to note is that the Devon County Council gave a grant, as did Western Television, and prizes were given by the N.F.U., the C.I.A. and so on.

If I may emphasise the point, it is no use the South-Western Arts Association saying that local councils and organisations should support them, if they produce a situation where the local concerns consider their judgment is at fault. I suggest that the answer to such situations is that the Arts Council and the S.W.A.A. should be seen to represent local artists in some public way. That particular association was hardly a good advertisement for those of us who are doing our best to encourage the arts in the South-West. Perhaps these problems may be put right and refusals couched in less embarrassing terms. Perhaps personalities come into it—the Arts have always been well known for producing "prima donnas" from time to time.

Let us leave problems of that sort, my Lords, and conclude on the question of the housing of the visual and other Arts. I feel that there are an abundance of churches available which are hardly ever used, and I do not see why they should not be used for that type of Art. There were many Territorial Army halls left vacant when our Reserves were done away with. I do not know whether they have all been sold, but they would make excellent Art centres, though I suggest that the type of Art referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, should be reserved for London and the non-church exhibitions. I wish the Regional Arts Associations the best of luck and hope that the Minister will be able to give us all the assurances possible this evening.

8.36 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to me to try to wind up what I think has been a notable debate. One of the advantages of winding up is that one is able to hear almost every speech. I apologise to the noble Lords concerned for any speeches which I have had perforce to miss, and I shall look forward to reading them to-morrow. As the 21st speaker I do not intend to detain your Lordships for very long, but I should like to say how much I agree with much that was said by my noble friend Lord Clifford of Chudleigh—if he will allow me to call him that. He managed to make a new point when he talked of the advantages of the Arts to tourism, and I thought that something well worth pursuing.

I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, on having initiated this debate, and on his excellent and most knowledgeable speech. We know how closely the noble Lord is associated with one of the Arts Associations and what splendid work he does. I should like also to congratulate him on securing such an early date for the debate. To my knowledge, the debates on the Arts usually take place in high summer. The noble Lord has managed to secure a very early date and to have the subject debated before Easter, which I think is quite an achievement. It indicates his own initiative, but it is also I feel an acknowledgement by noble Lords on both sides of the House of the importance of the subject.

We have had a very distinguished and knowledgeable list of speakers, and their contributions have covered England, Scotland and Wales. If I may say so, with all due deference, I think this has been one of the best debates on the Arts that I have heard for many years. In contrast to some of the debates we have had since the Election, which have been rather controversial, I thought that this would be a very calm debate. On the whole, it has been calm, but not entirely so, particularly in respect of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, to which I listened with great interest and to which I shall refer in a moment. He put up, it seems to me, an absolutely brilliant defence of Arts Council policy, and one with which I agreed. I endorse every word said by the noble Lord, Lord Snow, about it. I should like also to say how much we appreciate the splendid work that the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, has done as Chairman of the Arts Council, and how much he will be missed.

My Lords, I agree very much with a great deal of what was said by the Paymaster General, Lord Eccles. But I think that he was less than fair to my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge. As the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, said, this is not really a Party matter; and therefore one regrets one passage, particularly, in the noble Viscount's speech when he said that when he took over as Minister responsible for the Arts the regions were receiving less than half the grant given to the Coliseum. I think he described the Coliseum in a rather derogatory way, as if it were some kind of music hall—perhaps he thinks it is—as it used to be at one time. This was well answered by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, and I do not wart to add to what he said. However, I should like to quote a passage from the last Arts Council Report, which reached me to-day, even later than it was received by the noble Viscount. Lord Eccles. The Report says: The Sadler's Wells since the move to the Coliseum, with more opera performances than at Covent Garden, and in a larger house, drew over half a million people last year. Prices there make opera available to a wider section of the public. I should have thought that this expenditure by my noble friend Lady Lee was well justified. I must say that I did not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, when he talked about the cultural desert stretching 40 miles South of Waterloo Bridge.


I said 14 miles.


I apologise to the noble Lord—14 miles South of Waterloo Bridge. I do not know whether the noble Lord was alluding merely to the theatre; but, for my part, I must say that I have always enjoyed the Imperial War Museum and the paintings there, which I think are some of the finest collection of English painting that we have in this country. And there is also, of course, the Dulwich Art Gallery.


I was referring to performing arts only.


I am glad to have that clarification, and also the noble Lord's confirmation that there are one or two oases within 14 miles South of Waterloo Bridge.

I also did not agree with the noble Lord when he said that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, when he described the Arts, described them mainly as merchandise. If I may say so, I thought that that was rather unfair. It was well countered by the noble Lord. Lord Boyle of Handsworth. We all know that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has a deep and lifelong appreciation of the Arts, and although we do not always agree with his policy in certain respects, we acknowledge that interest in these matters.

As the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, reminded us, the Arts Associations have now been in existence for just over ten years. They were created by Mr. Arthur Blenkinsop. Out of the new form of Regional Arts Association in the North Eastern Development Region, we had the North Eastern Arts Association. I was interested in the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, and I endorse everything that he said about the North Eastern Association. I shall have a little more to say about that later. As the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, said, the North-East showed the way, and I should like to repeat the tribute which the noble Viscount paid to this association. Following this of course was the Lincolnshire Association.

Then came the considerable impetus that was given by my noble friend Lady Lee of Asheridge when she was appointed the first Minister responsible for the Arts in this country and produced her White Paper, A Policy for the Arts, in 1965. Paragraph 43 of that Paper, which I will not repeat now as your Lordships know it well, gave considerable encouragement to this development. Since then England and Wales are well covered with Arts Associations. The late Ian Fleming was, among his various achievements, a distinguished book collector. Towards the end of his life he collected first editions of books that had really started something. I like to think that possibly my noble friend's White Paper, A Policy for the Arts, will have found a place in that collection, because certainly it did start something. I should like to pay a warm tribute to the splendid work that my noble friend has done, not only in this respect, but in the whole field of the Arts during her tenure of office.

There have of course been exceptions. The Scottish Arts Council feel it better not to divide up the country into regions in this way, and they probably know best. I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, was a little unfair about Glasgow, because I seem to remember seeing recently that they are now going to build a splendid museum to house the fine Burrell Collection: that at last will be seen. I was most interested in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Haig, on the needs of Scotland. He is a distinguished member of the Scottish Arts Council. He is also an artist, and I once saw some of his pictures in an exhibition in London and admired them very much. I am glad that a practising artist has taken part in this debate. I was interested also in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw. The rather controversial remarks of my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe I am afraid I missed, but they have been alluded to and I shall read them with interest to-morrow.

I believe that South-East England is not yet covered by any Regional Arts Association, but I understand that a Steering Committee is considering the matter and that they hope to report in June of this year. With regard to Wales, we had the notable speeches of my noble friend Lady White and the noble Lord, Lord Brecon. I was particularly interested in everything that the noble Lord, Lord Brecon, had to say, because he speaks with great knowledge; and I was also interested in the remarks of my noble friend Lady White about the Welsh opera company.

We are apt sometimes in London to think of the regions simply as training grounds, and this is particularly so in the case of the theatre. The noble Lord, Lord Goodman, reminded us that the Arts Council have established over sixty repertory theatres throughout the country. But the regions are interesting because they are regions, and I welcome the great upsurge of creation based on local talent and traditions that we have seen in the last few years. I agree very much with what my noble friend Lord Fiske said in this respect. Therefore, as my noble friend Lord Rhodes said, the more that the regional bodies can experiment the better: I think his words were that we should be more adventurous.

I was also very impressed with my noble friend Lord Snow's remarks on regional roots. As he reminded us, in France it is often different. He referred to Bordeaux and a novelist—I assume that he meant Francois Mauriac, whose novels are based on Bordeaux. I think that Bordeaux is a rather special case. It is not always so, and of course it was not always so in France. I seem to remember very critical remarks that the young Rimbaud used to make about Charleville and what an artistic desert he said it was at the end of the last century. But I welcome very much the fact that many of our own young writers are now staying in their home towns and their own parts of the country and have their roots deep in their locality. For example, Jon Silkin's poetry was first published in the Northern Arts Magazine, and he now publishes a magazine which is supported by the Northern Arts Association. In the field of plastic Arts, several exhibitions have been originally conceived by and shown in the regions: for example, the Claude Lorrain Exhibition, which was shown first in Newcastle, and others, such as the Holman Hunt Exhibition and the exhibition of the Bohemian Baroque. One of the most impressive achievements recently, I think, was in Jarrow, as the right reverend Prelate will know, where an art gallery was created out of a former air-raid shelter by a small team of dedicated people who over a period of years removed tons of earth and installed electricity and central heating. I think that was a most impressive performance and example of dedication.

As has been said in this debate, the main supports are the Arts Council, the local authorities, the trade unions and industry, together with a number of charitable trusts and foundations such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, as well as a number of private patrons.

I welcome the great increase in Arts Council grants, which have nearly doubled over the last three to four years. The Arts Council has also given considerable support to the repertory theatres and has done absolutely splendid work in organising travelling exhibitions and theatre and ballet tours. However, I feel it is right to say that if too great a proportion of the total comes from London there is a fear of London dictation. The more finance comes from the regions to support local talent and initiative, the less dependence there will be on London. I am very glad that the Merseyside Association, for example, has now taken over responsibility for the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool for visits of important touring companies. Of course, other generous supporters of the Arts on Merseyside are the Moores family of Liverpool and this Littlewood's Pools firm is an example of industrial patronage.

I welcome the Government's announcement that they are to study the role of the Arts in a new regional arrangement. I realise that the noble Viscount cannot yet give details, but I hope that the Government will take note of the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham.

As the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, reminded us, the local authorities have been permitted under the Local Government Act 1948 to spend the product of a sixpenny rate on entertainment in all its forms, and indeed many are increasing their support every year. But, as he said, the average—and this is rather depressing—is still only one penny, or rather less. I realise that this ceiling will he done away with by the Local Government Bill which is at present before the other place.

I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, said about Clause 142 of that Bill. I am sure this makes sense legally, as my noble friend Lord Lloyd of Hampstead will probably know. But as the noble Lord said, there is not a word in it about the Arts. and I very much welcome the fact that the noble Viscount is going, to look into this clause to see how it might be redrafted. I should like to ask the Minister whether the Government intend to provide some guidance to the future local authorities about expenditure on the Arts. I am sure that this should be possible, and indeed I should have thought it would be one of the duties of the Minister for the Arts to guide and encourage local authorities without in any way impinging on regional responsibilities. Perhaps he will let us have his views and also confirm that the Government intend both tiers of local authorities concurrently to inherit the responsibilities for their areas and regions in which the existing authority is now discharged.

The T.U.C., under Mr. Victor Feather, have done much to encourage interest in the Arts by the trade unions. As the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, said, it is now very necessary to have an element of private patronage—and by "private patronage" we generally mean industrial patronage. Industrial support, on the whole, has been good. I know that in the Northern Arts there has been splendid industrial support. There has been support from I.C.I., which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Feversham, and from Procter and Gamble, the Provincial Insurance Company and other companies, which also provide financial help. But it is rather depressing when one looks down the list to see really very large and prosperous companies giving £1 or £5 a year to the local Arts Association. I think it is true to say that on the whole local industry is more likely to support important sponsored events. There is nothing wrong in that, and many companies do a great deal in providing useful travel subsidies to enable people to visit the centres from outlying areas. Then there is the invaluable ticket scheme which is operated by some associations to enable young people to obtain a book of tickets and thus offset the cost of admission. The cost is not great and the benefits are absolutely incalculable. There is also great scope for linking up with the local and regional Press so that a diary of events can be published as a special supplement, say once a month, to ensure a much wider readership.

I welcome, too, the closer relations between museums and galleries of several regions, as is happening between those in the Eastern, East Midlands and Southern Arts Associations. I think we need also to consider whether or not a new regional museum system is necessary, and whether some of the regional museums should not be made into national museums, possibly with an Exchequer contribution. Should we not consider, too, allowing certain of the larger regional museums to have the chance of acquiring with Government help some of the few remaining masterpieces still in private hands when or if these come on the market? I believe there are still about thirty of them left, on what is known as the "Paramount list". Perhaps the Paymaster General will let us have his comments on this point. Why not a Titian for Tyneside, for instance? I very much welcome the paragraph in the recent White Paper entitled Future Policy for Museums and Galleries which says that the Government are undertaking a review of the needs of the provincial museums and galleries. Let us hope that the noble Viscount is also starting something here, just as my noble friend Baroness Lee did in her time.

It is just over 10 years since the first Regional Arts Association was formed: now they cover much of the country. Their value and potential are limitless. I can think of no other form of Arts endeavour which pays such rich dividends, enriches our culture so greatly or gives so much pleasure and happiness to so many people.

8.58 p.m.


My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that we have had a very interesting debate, and I am quite certain that when we read though the report my office, and I think I may say the Arts Council as well, will find a lot of points which will be worth taking up. I am personally convinced that this is probably a turning point in our general attitude to regional Arts. If I may, I should now like to try to answer some of the main questions asked during the debate and then finally turn to Lord Goodman's speech. The noble Lord, Lord Fiske was the first of your Lordships to raise a point that has since run all the way through our debate: that is, how do we lobby the local authorities? I am certain that whether it is in the London Boroughs or whether we think of the Scottish local authorities, to which frequent references were made, we have not yet arrived at quite the right way of representing to local authorities the value of the Regional Arts Associations. Of course it is much better in some parts of the country than in others; but again the North of England comes out top.

But if we are thinking how to do that, am I not right, talking to your Lordships who have experience of local government, in saying that councillors and aldermen like to talk to people who know about their neighbourhood? They are impressed by people who say, "I know about this area. The ratepayers are people with whom I am in constant touch and I can tell you that this and that is what they wart, and this is what we can do for them." Therefore I cannot see any channel for lobbying the local authorities likely to be better than the Regional Arts Associations. I believe my noble friend Lord Boyle of Handsworth said that he thought it was one of their prime functions, and I do too. As has been mentioned, when we have the reorganisation of the local government boundaries I suppose there will be some authorities that will be considerably bigger than they were before, and they may need a good deal of persuasion that they will not then be big enough to "go it alone". I have looked at this matter as carefully as I can and I am convinced that there will still be a real need for Regional Arts Associations after the reorganisation. We shall have to give a good deal of thought to the best way to present this case to the reorganised local authorities.

My noble friend Lord Haig, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and my noble friend Lady Elliot told us interesting things about Scotland. I should like to point out that the population of Scotland, so far as I know, is something between 5½ and 6 million people. The grant for last year was £1,121,000 and, as is already known, it is to be £1,400,000 in the year 1972–73. If you take off from that £1,400,000 what is roughly right to estimate as the grants that go to the National Scottish companies, the opera, the orchestra, and one or two of the theatre companies, which seem to me to add up to £600,000, that will leave the Scottish Arts Council £800,000 for what in other parts of Great Britain would be considered their regional duties. The amount of £800,000 grant in respect of 5.6 million people, which is approximately the same number of people as there are in Yorkshire, shows that there is a certain disparity between the grants as they are now; and all we wart is to bring all of them, as their staffs and councils are fitted to use the money, up to the best.

We should not have to advance at all into a new area of grant-giving if we took the amount of money per head in the Northern Arts, where the population is approximately 3.25 million people, and applied that to the whole of England. We should find that the expenditure of the English Regional Arts Associations would then be £3½ million, and on the present allocation between local authorities and the central Government that would call for £2 million from the Arts Council. That is what we all believe should be happening now. I am only asking that the whole of England should have Regional Arts Associations of the same coverage and competence as the Northern Arts. There will be £2 million required from central funds on a population basis. We all wart everybody to do even better—and no one warts to do it more than the Northern Arts themselves. That illustrates the kind of problem which we have and why it is necessary to carry out our declared policy of doing more for the regions.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Boyle of Handsworth that the schools have done a remarkable job in introducing children to the Arts, especially to creative self-expression as a way of learning. I went to Newcastle and attended a conference organised by the Northern Arts for all the education officers in their area and we had a discussion about this matter. I think there is a certain letdown when the children leave school and their enthusiasms and interests have been half aroused. They need a quick continuity, something which will carry them on or else they will begin to find other ways of entertainment which perhaps are not quite so self-fulfilling, are not going to do the same thing in stretching their personalities, as would have happened if they had had more artistic experience. The Directors of Education were absolutely clear about this. They said that we had to get together. But who gets together? They said that the education system in the Northern Provinces and the Regional Arts Association had to get together. This is the obvious instrument to use. That is one area of advance: much closer co-operation between the maintained schools and the Regional Arts Association.

The South-West was brought before us by the noble Lord, Lord Foot, and my noble friend Lord Clifford of Chudlehh. I went to the Beaford Centre and I consider Mr. Lane to be one of the most remarkable Directors of a small centre that one can ever see. It may be of interest to them to know, and I think they know it already, that the Western parts of Devonshire and Cornwall are classified as assisted areas. In other words, within the regional policy which has been described by my right honourable friend John Davies this afternoon, this part of the South-Western area will qualify for the special help. I thought very interesting the suggestion that came from the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, that there were churches (as the noble Lord described it) will buy. This is a worthy ideal. I am personally entirely wedded to the highest possible standards in all the Arts, and I think it is perfectly right that we should have machinery through which Government money can be used in order to buy the highest possible standards in these various Arts. That is one objective.

But there is another objective, which was expressed by the right reverend Prelate, the noble Lord, Lord Snow, and the noble Lord, Lord Annan. It is, in the words of the right reverend Prelate, a high objective of social policy that we should try to get some cultural synthesis (which was his word) in each area, and that we should be a better country if we could promote, in co-operation, that range of intellectual experience which makes civilisation. It must be a rather wide range because people differ very much in their choice of this experience. As the noble Lord, Lord Snow, put it, there is a possibility that we could make a break-through in our social institutions if we could look after this dimension of life. I fully recognise that it is a different objective, and if it is right to call it political that one should wart to improve the cultural synthesis in all communities in this country then I accept the term. But I should have thought in another sense it was not political, in that there would be nobody of any political colour who would disagree with the fact that if we are not able to match the growing affluence and the growing technological advantages with the other dimension of life—the spiritual dimension of life—we are going to get tensions in our society the like of which we can see already. Therefore I suppose this is really a social policy.

What I have said on several occasions to representatives of the Arts Council is, "Do you wart to take this on as well?" We think this is something that needs to be done. After all, we put it in our Election Manifesto, so I suppose that makes it political. We said that if we were returned to power we would try to see how we could improve the quality of life in the regions throughout the whole country, and this entailed giving full support to the Arts Associations.


My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Viscount for one moment, because in fact I am going to agree with him. Anything that I said on this subject was not meant in a political sense but in a deeply social sense, and I am sure that the right reverend Prelate was speaking in exactly the same sense.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I feel the same about this. What should we do? Should we say to the Arts Council, "We greatly admire all that you are doing in the first objective. I do not think there is the slightest chance that you will not get enough money to go on doing objective number one; that is, maintaining the highest standards of the great national companies, and the proof of that is what we have already given"? I think it was only yesterday, or perhaps the day before, that I did something which I think it has not been possible to do before: I told them what their basic grant was going to be for 1973–74, in order that they might be able to plan ahead precisely to maintain both these objectives. I told them that it would be £1.2 million real spending money more than they are getting in the year that is just beginning, and of course if there is an element of inflation over the next 12 months then there is always added on to that something for revaluation of the previous grant to make it stand still. So here for the first time the Arts Council knows what it is going to get in 1972–73, £2 million more than the year before—but that includes the inflationary element—and in 1973–74 another £1.2 million, without the inflationary element; that is for expansion. On that basis, there really ought not to be anybody saying that there is a choice between maintaining the first objective, the highest possible standards in the national companies, and doing something for a real, new initiative in the regions. That is really my answer to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. He posed it as though I was deliberately trying to switch from one to the other for some sort of political reason.


My Lords, would not the noble Viscount agree that the Arts Council, by promoting Arts centres to the limits of the Housing the Arts Fund, was providing a roof under which the Arts Council took no objection at all if sometimes it was which might be used for the Arts. I cannot remember at the moment which church I was in the other day that had been converted into a theatre, but it was somewhere in the North and I thought it was a very happy way of using a building where the purpose had to be changed.

Another interesting suggestion came from my noble friend Lord Brecon: that as a result of reducing the number of local authorities approximately I think by a half throughout Great Britain, there will be town halls and buildings of that type which, certainly if they could be acquired without too much expense, could no doubt be adapted very well. I fancy rather long negotiations lie ahead. But, still, it is at least something we should look at.

The Welsh National Opera was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady White, and my noble friend Lord Brecon, and of course the finances of a company like that are very difficult. 'I heir performances are excellent. I went to see them on tour the other day and they were giving Lulu, which I had never seen before; it was a most exciting, almost terrifying, affair. They, of course, got into deficit some time ago and they were "bailed out" by the Arts Council. Now I understand they are again in quite severe trouble. But there are a Lumber of matters which the Arts Council wish to discuss with them, and I thank one must wait to hear the result of those discussions.

The noble Lord, Lord Rhodes, spoke of Manchester's Opera Theatre. I cannot resist showing him, if he has not seen it, this Manchester Theatre PlanA New Stage. I think it is one of the best documents on the theatre that I have seen for a long time. The people of this great City of Manchester are very modest. In the end they come up asking for a complete set of new theatres and new theatre ventures, and they recommend on 1972 figures that a subsidy be provided for their Theatre Plan—nothing to do with the noble Lord's opera plan: £630,000 a year from the Arts Council; £280,000 a year from the metropolitan county authority, and £50,000 a year from the local education authority. My Lords, there you see what the figures look like for drama only when one great city really gets down to it and says what its people need. This is why the problem in the regions is of a different size from anything we have so far tackled.


Yes, my Lords; but of course that is what they would like. The report was brought out by the Regional Arts Association. When you compare what they really need with what they are getting now, which is only £40,000 a year for the whole area, the result is very revealing.


My Lords, the noble Lord is really making my point. I agree with him. I forgot to mention that the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, also spoke about Scottish local authorities, and I entirely agree with what he said.

I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, mentioned the film. I entirely agree with him that the development of the film as a Creative form of art is one of the very interesting "spin-offs" from television. I am sure that is where it started from; and it is extraordinarily interesting, because once one looks at it at all one sees that painting and drawing, sculpture, all forms of the organisation of space and so on, all really are in this new art of the film. Therefore, we must bring it in if we can with the other Arts. I welcome very much the appointment of one or two film officers to join the staffs of the Regional Arts Associations. I will discuss with Mr. Forman and the members of the Council of the British Film Institute whether they have enough money—I thought they had, but I will take it up again—to appoint film officers to all those Regional Arts Associations who are at a maturity where it will be useful. It is a very good idea.

I should now like to come to what seems to me to be the—not difference of opinion, but central idea that has come out of this debate. There really are two quite different objectives which we are trying to pursue, and I think one must distinguish between them in order to understand what seems to me to be a really rather unfair view of what we are trying to do, which was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Goodman. The first objective is what might be called "Art for art's sake", that is to say, provide Government money, and the test of what you should do with that money is the quality of the art which the cheque used for strictly professional companies and at other times gave hospitality to the more amateur companies that the noble Viscount has in mind? My only regret is that they have not had enough money to go on with this.


My Lords, I quite agree with that, but I do not think it makes any difference to the argument that I am advancing at the moment. What I am saying is that whatever we have done for the regions, by whatever method, up till now is not enough, and we wish therefore to have a new initiative. I divided that new initiative into three parts; increased current grants, increased money for capital for buildings, and the part which I personally think will make an enormous difference—that is if the Arts Council will take on the job—central promotion and publicity service advice for the regions. That leads me to my last point.


My Lords, before the noble Viscount comes to his last point may I inquire one simple thing? I for the first time begin to understand that we have apparently at some time been asked by somebody to undertake some other function. I am sure that the noble Viscount will not mind if I am a little flippant. I know that he was educated at Winchester and therefore I am convinced he is a classical scholar. But he does not show all that evidence of mathematical training. We have exhausted all our resources. We have not a penny left at the end of the year except some modest reserve. Would he be so good as to tell me where we are to get the funds to undertake this nebulous, unspecified, amorphous function to which he referred? We have spent all the money. He produced the most astonishing arithmetic about comparing Scotland with Yorkshire. He said that Scotland have a few major institutions and a great many minor institutions, and therefore they have about £800,000 left for the minor institutions which might come within the ambit of the region. But in Yorkshire they have a great many major institutions: they have a theatre at Sheffield which gets £27,000 or £30,000; a theatre at Harrogate which gets £10,000; a theatre at Leeds which gets £13,000; and a theatre at York which takes about the same amount. If you add those together this leaves the minute sums we have had left to give to the Regional Associations. There is no deep philosophical difference between us: there is only a simple arithmetical difference.


My Lords, the noble Lord really goes on too much about that. It is an old political trick that one says: "Oh, you wart to cut expenditure. Now you must tell me exactly where you are going to cut it". Nobody outside can say without the knowledge of how each client in the Arts Council is doing, what their claims are. I cannot tell him where the money is to come from. All I can tell him is that the distribution of the money when we came to power was as I described it in my first speech, and that was not consonant with the Government's policy. I have had to write on more than one occasion to the noble Lord saying, "I hope that on getting more money in total you will give more to the regions". I ask the noble Lord: can he put his hand on his heart and say that if I had not done that they would have given so much money? He cannot.


My Lords, the noble Lord has challenged me and my answer is that if I could identify the portion of my anatomy where my heart exists I would pull it out with the greatest of pleasure. But the only difference between us is that we have given very ample sums to the region directly. The suggestion is that we should do it through a Regional Association which in some measure is right, in other measures is wrong. If I may say so, with the greatest respect. I say that the notion that this should be done wholly through Regional Associations where there is no difference in the end product is purely a political notion. I do not withdraw a word, because there is in fact no difference in the result achieved; there is only a difference in the appearance of the result achieved. You give an appearance of supporting the regions which you are already doing to exactly the same extent.


My Lords, I do not think it would pay to go on with this discussion. I am not asking that grants should be switched direct from the Arts Council and the cheque paid at the other end. I am asking for new things to be done and I believe that very shortly new things will be done. I am deeply interested in this problem of how we can make life more interesting and more satisfying to far more people. There is the problem of communications mentioned by one noble Lord—that is, how you introduce people to the Arts who have not had the advantages that we have had. Most of us when we were children were taken to theatres, concerts and exhibitions by older people who explained to us what we were going to see and what we were going to hear. That kind of interpretation is necessary for everybody who is a stranger to this kind of experience. It is going to be very difficult, I agree, to find these "animateurs", as the French call them; the kind of man who can direct a Regional Arts Association, who is a live wire between the artists and the general public. That kind of man, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, is very difficult to find and very difficult to train. But I believe that there are these people about, and I believe that if they realise that we all, without distinction of Party, wish to build up these Regional Arts Associations, we may get some very good offers of voluntary help. My Lords, I apologise for detaining you for so long. This is a subject very dear to my heart and one in which I think the new intiative is really worthy of support by everybody.

9.28 p.m.


My Lords, may I very briefly indeed reply to what has been a most interesting debate. I am gratified that we have heard during the course of the afternoon so many speakers with such wide-ranging interests and experiences in the field of the Arts. Many important points were made during the debate which have been well covered by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and in his winding-up speech by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and I feel it would be totally superfluous to comment on them any further. But perhaps I could make one comment on the speech of my noble friend Lord Goodman. I interrupted him once or twice, for which I heartily apologise. In one interruption I asked him—because he seemed to be defending the Arts Council against a colossal attack from some quarter—from where on earth he did feel he was being attacked and from whence he felt the attack was coming. I really was not very satisfied with his answer. In answer, he more or less said that he felt the Arts Council were under constant attack from all directions. This seemed to me a little paranoic.


My Lords, if the noble Lord would forgive me—I hesitate to interrupt—I did not say that. What I said was that Covent Garden was constantly being subjected to the criticism that too much money was spent in that opera house.


My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Lord in his reply. Nevertheless, certainly the whole tenor of his speech seemed to be aimed at defending the Arts Council, which he seemed to maintain was a fortress under attack. I do not think that anybody in his right mind warts to attack the Arts Council. It is an absolutely magnificent body that has done a magnificent job. The new report of the Arts Council which has just come out, which has been mentioned several times this afternoon and which nobody has had time to read—I have had time to read parts of it—seems to me to be an excellent report and makes many comments with regard to the Regional Arts Associations that I think the Regional Arts Associations will be very glad to see.

I think the noble Lord mentioned the Spectator as being a magazine that carried some form of attack on the Arts Council. He also mentioned the Economist. I have not read the article in the Spectator but I have read the Economist, and I do not think there is any attack in that. I recall a piece in the Sunday Times last Sunday, headed "Lords' Big Debate", and it more or less started with the words, "Regional Peers to attack the Arts Council; Lord Goodman on the mat". I am wondering whether perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, as Chairman of the Newspaper Publishers' Association, unlike the rest of us may perhaps believe what he reads in the Sunday newspapers.


My Lords, he does not read newspapers.


My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord was on the mat. One thing we learnt from his speech was that it would be extremely dangerous to put him on the mat, if we were in a position to do so. I would join with the noble Lord, Lord Annan, in the remarks he made about the staff of the Regional Arts Associations. Many of the Regional Arts Associations are lamentably understaffed, and I would pay tribute to the directors and staffs of the Arts Associations over the past few years. To an extent their jobs require an element of dedication. These people often have to put in a great deal of work out of office hours.

I think that we entered this debate with two questions to be answered. The first was, do the Regional Arts Associations which now operate over most of England and Wales provide the right kind of machinery to stimulate and help meet the cultural needs of people living throughout the country. Here I concentrate very much on the question of the right kind of machinery to stimulate and help meet the cultural needs of the people. If the answer to that first question is, broadly speaking, yes—and I think most speakers this afternoon have answered the question in the affirmative, and even the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, in part of his speech—the second question is how best can we build in the future on the foundations of the Regional Arts Associations' movement as they exist to-day. If this debate has laid down any guidelines towards answering this second question, then I feel it has served my purpose. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.