§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
To ask the Minister for the Arts if he has plans to continue the business sponsorship incentive scheme for 1988–89; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Luce
The business sponsorship incentive scheme continues to be highly successful. Since it began in 1984 it has raised £16.4 million of new money for the arts and has attracted over 600 first time sponsors. Seventy per cent. of the awards have gone to arts groups outside London.
I believe that the scheme should be strengthened and extended in 1988–89. I am therefore making provision to increase the amount available from £1.75 million to £3 million per annum, an increase of 70 per cent., to reflect the existing and anticipated growth in sponsorship. I am also restoring the maximum limit of £25,000 which was temporarily reduced following an exceptional run of awards in 1987–88. In addition, so as to safeguard the interests for arts organisations obtaining sponsorship for winter events, the budget will be operated in two six-monthly periods, on the basis of allocations reflecting the take-up pattern of previous years.
I believe that this increase in funding and the change to six-monthly operation will provide adequate resources for the scheme to operate throughout the financial year. However, the scheme is cash-limited and may be exhausted by exceptional demand in either six-month period. In such unlikely circumstances I shall not introduce reduced awards.