Arts, Suffolk

Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th May 1995.

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Photo of Richard Spring Richard Spring , Bury St Edmunds 12:00 am, 15th May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what is his assessment of the state of the arts in Suffolk. [22468]

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich

It is for the Arts Council and the regional arts boards to take the lead in making assessments of this kind. I understand that Eastern Arts has a high opinion of the quality and range of arts activity in Suffolk.

Photo of Richard Spring Richard Spring , Bury St Edmunds

My hon. Friend will be aware of the great success of the Bury St. Edmunds festival in my constituency. Is he aware that, two weekends ago, the Newmarket festival took place, the highlight of which was a concert under the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts pairing scheme? Does my hon. Friend agree that it is now possible to hear the finest music outside the metropolitan areas?

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Harwich

My hon. Friend rightly draws attention to the success of the Bury St. Edmunds festival, which is celebrating its 10th birthday and has been a wonderful success. In respect of the Newmarket festival, the first time that it was held, it was a great success. I agree that the ABSA scheme, or the pairing scheme, which has brought some £80 million of fresh money into arts in the 10 years that it has existed, has been great success. As something like 78 per cent. of the money goes outside London, my hon. Friend is quite right to say that it allows people all over the country to hear the finest music and see the finest performances.