What steps she is taking to mitigate the effect on the provision of arts and culture of future changes in local authority budgets.
Local authorities should recognise the huge benefits that investing in arts and culture can bring. Many already do, and are building successful partnerships to deliver arts and culture, and to develop new models of working together.
The Government really ought to recognise the importance of investing in local authorities to deliver these services but, given the crisis in their funding, philanthropic giving is playing an increasingly important role. The Minister will be aware, I think, of the success of “Going Public”, which is a Museums Sheffield initiative on private giving. Will he agree to meet me and Museums Sheffield to discuss what more can be done on that front?
Yes, I would be delighted to, not least because the best local authorities are increasing their investment in arts and culture, as they see its value in strengthening the sense of place and ensuring that arts are available to all. There is no excuse for not doing so.
An innovative new organisation called Arts Taunton has just been established in my constituency to infiltrate art and culture into every aspect of our lives, including the new garden town. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this sector should have an equal weighting with other sectors and, indeed, that it can not only raise spirits, but benefit the economy?
My hon. Friend is exactly right. I commend initiatives such as Arts Taunton for embedding arts, culture and creativity in all aspects of life. It is incredibly important that people of all ages have the opportunity to participate and are encouraged to do so.