Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1959.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why, in view of his refusal to increase the grant to the Arts Council for the current year, except for special provision for opera, he has now told that Council that there will be no increase for the next two years, in spite of the inadequacy of the present grant available for the support of the theatre and the rising costs of production.
The Arts Council were told in January, 1958, that its grant would remain at the level fixed for 1958–59 (£1·1 million) in the following two years. This was done to stabilise the Exchequer grant and to indicate, in accordance with the known wishes of bodies operating in the Arts field, the level of assistance they could expect from the Government over a period of years. The level of the Arts Council grant has been changed this year only to the extent necessary to put the financial assistance to Covent Garden on a new basis.
Is the Financial Secretary aware of the needs of the theatre, where production costs have gone up just as much as in opera and are just as great as in opera, and that the £70,000 given last year to the theatre is wholly inadequate? Will he, therefore, consider that in the present year there should be no standstill, as appears to be arranged at the moment, which prevents any additional grant being given to the theatre in the next two years, since the theatre's case is as strong as opera's?
The allocation of the grant among particular bodies is, of course, a matter for the Arts Council, but my right hon. Friend did increase the grant by over 10 per cent. to bring it up to the figure of £1·1 million, and that supervened on an increase in the previous year of over 10 per cent.