HC Deb 01 April 1976 vol 908 cc570-2W
Mr. Jim Callaghan

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish his official list of the major achievements in the Arts in the last two years.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Among the Government's achievements in the arts during the last two difficult years the following are noteworthy.

Government expenditure on the arts (excluding libraries and local museums and galleries) increased from £42.5 million in 1973–74 to £52. 9 million in 1974–75 and to an estimated £67.6 million in 1975–76. The grant to the Arts Council alone was over £28 million in 1975–76 compared with £17.4 million in 1973–74. The grant for the Crafts was raised from £336,700 in 1973–74 to £589,300 in 1975–76 and expenditure on Area Museum Councils was increased from £120,500 to £550,000 in the same period. The British Library grant-in-aid rose from £12.2 million in 1974–75 to £16.7 million in 1975–76. Expenditure on national museums and galleries, which amounted to £20.8 million in 1973–74, is expected to reach £27 million in 1975–76. The level of annual purchase grants for the national collections was increased to £3.44 million from 1975–76, compared with £1.5 million in the previous five year period.

Charges for entry to the national museums and galleries were removed in March 1974 and attendances, which had dropped to 14.8 million in 1974 from 16 million in 1973 when charges were introduced, increased to 17.6 million in 1975.

A major extension to the National Gallery was opened on 6th June 1975 and the National Railway Museum, York, on 27th September 1975. The Western Extension of the Tate Gallery and the new Museum of London are nearing completion. A start has been possible for the Amenities Block at the British Museum. The site for any future development of the Royal Opera House was safeguarded by the Arts Council's purchase in March 1975 of land at a cost of over £3.1 million. Negotiations for the purchase of the British Library Somers Town site are well advanced, and outline plans for the new building are under consideration by the local planning authority.

The National Theatre opened on 16th March 1976, following arrangements made for financing the completion of the building.

Discussions were held with the Arts Council and steps taken towards a greater degree of democratisation of the membership of the Council.

In February 1976 there was agreement in principle with the CBI to the setting up of an independent organisation to bring together potential business sponsors and art clients and to publicise the benefits of such collaboration.

A Bill on the Public Lending Right for authors was introduced in the House of Lords on 18th March 1976.

From the financial year 1975–76, new grant arrangements have applied to five major trustee museums (the British Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Gallery, National Maritime Museum and the Tate Gallery) giving the Trustees greater responsibility and freedom to manage their own institutions within an approved overall net vote. Extension of the arrangements to certain other national museums and galleries is now under consideration.

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