Arts Funding outside London

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 16th October 2014.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 9:30 am, 16th October 2014

What recent assessment he has made of the effect of Government funding decisions on the arts and culture outside London.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

What recent assessment he has made of the balance of funding for arts organisations in the English regions.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

Funding decisions for the arts are made independently of Ministers by Arts Council England, but I am delighted to say that 53% of the funding that the Arts Council recently allocated to non-profit organisations will go outside London. It is the first time that the majority of that funding will have gone outside London.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

But public funding for the arts in London is 15 times greater than for outside the capital, and Hull city council has seen a 25% cut to its funding during this Parliament. How does the Minister expect Hull to deliver the national city of culture in 2017 with these unfair funding formulas?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I have to say that the hon. Lady’s colleagues in Hull are much more bullish about being the capital of culture and are looking forward to delivering it in 2017. They have received £3 million of funding from the Arts Council. Indeed, the Arts Council has set up a pop-up office in Hull to assist with the capital of culture.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

The Minister has been the only witness to the Select Committee’s inquiry into the balance of arts funding in this country not to accept that there is a gross imbalance in funding in favour of London and against regions such as the north-east and the south-west. Even his own chairman of the Arts Council, whom he appointed, accepts that there is a problem. Will he now read the chairman’s evidence and the evidence from all the other witnesses who disagree with him, join the consensus and do something about it?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

That is as opposed to when the right hon. Gentleman was Secretary of State and did absolutely nothing about it. I look forward to receiving copies of the many speeches he made when he was Secretary of State talking about the imbalance of funding between London and the regions. We are doing something about it, which is why more funding is now going outside London and why the chairman of the Arts Council said:

“judge us in two years’ time”.

The council accepts that there is an issue and is going to do something about it.

Photo of Steven Baker Steven Baker Conservative, Wycombe

London is notoriously awash with wealthy patrons of the arts. Why not shift on to them the burden of funding the arts in London?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I was recently at an event at Tate where we were praising the Ofer family, who not only have given millions to the National Maritime museum but recently gave £10 million to Tate Modern. There is a great deal of philanthropy in London. I am also pleased that there is a lot outside London—for example, the recent donation by Andrew and Zoë Law of £1 million to the Lowry in Salford.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

May I impress upon the Minister the popularity and importance to small local communities of highly localised heritage and arts centres such as those in Desborough, Rothwell and Burton Latimer in the Kettering constituency? For relatively small sums of money, very big things can be done in small local communities, to the immense benefit of large numbers of people.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, which is why I am so pleased that the majority of arts funding is now going outside London. However, it is also important to stress that many of the organisations that are funded in London—because they have London postcodes—are touring organisations whose work is seen far and wide outside the capital.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe Labour, Bradford South

The Minister will know that there are many national museums outside London which are important to national culture, one being the National Media museum in Bradford. He will be aware that the council recently announced £1 million over three years to invest in this museum. Could he give an update on the Government’s thoughts about the future of national museums outside London?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I have been very grateful for the opportunity to work so constructively with the hon. Gentleman on the future of the National Media museum in Bradford, and I was delighted when I heard the news about the council’s funding support. We continue to support a lot of national museums outside London. The Science museum is a particularly good example, particularly given its work with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, where it has made a real difference.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

In my experience the Minister is quite a nice bloke, but he does not get it. If he was the Member for Huddersfield and a Yorkshire MP, he would see the decimation of the arts and culture coming to our region, which were so successful during the Tour de France. Tourism, the arts and culture are intimately interlinked. We see Opera North, the Festival of Light in Huddersfield and so many other iconic events in danger because of Government cuts.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

The hon. Gentleman is a very nice man in my experience; no Division is needed to pass that motion. When it comes to the arts and culture in the north and north-east, the list is endless: Sage Gateshead; the Yorkshire sculpture park, which I think is the national museum of the year; and the flourishing Opera North. My glass is very much half-full when it comes to the fantastic cultural delights to be found all over Yorkshire.