Regional Theatres

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 2000.

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Photo of Mr Alan Howarth Mr Alan Howarth Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts) 12:00 am, 11th December 2000

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the tenacity with which she has championed the Theatre Royal, the Derngate theatre and the Masque theatre company in her constituency, and I hope that she is pleased with the progress that they have made. The merger of the Theatre Royal and the Derngate theatre was assisted by £1 million of Arts Council for England capital lottery money and there has been a 22 per cent. increase in east midlands arts funding.

The Boyden review, and the Arts Council's consideration of it, led to the view that it was important to look at the whole theatre ecology and not simply take regional theatre in isolation. However, we have provided substantial additional funding, which the Arts Council will be able to use. As a result, it has committed itself to an increase of £12 million and, subsequently, £25 million, in funding for theatre. Therefore, the resources will be there to help on a wider front so long as we have a Labour Government, as my hon. Friend suggested. It is all too evident that the Opposition's plans would undermine the Arts Council's capacity to deliver—