Bridget Jones film director hits out at cuts to North East arts

Film director Baroness Beeban Kidron has called for dedicated funding for the arts in the North East

Film director Baroness Beeban Kidron
Film director Baroness Beeban Kidron

Arts funding must not be limited to groups inside the golden circle of the M25, the wife of playwright Lee Hall has said.

Baroness Beeban Kidron, the director behind films such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, has called on the Government to ensure the North sees a legally binding share of arts funding.

The peer was one of many speaking out following a report last year that showed half of the Arts Council England funding budget went to London, as well as some 90% of the £450m Department for Culture, Media and Sport budget.

This means the capital gets £69 of cultural spending per head, compared with just £4.50 in the rest of England.

Alongside this, 45% of National Lottery arts cash goes to London.

Baroness Kidron, whose husband led efforts to reverse council arts cuts in Newcastle, said that just four institutions in the capital receive more lottery funding than the 33 local authorities which are home to six million people at the bottom of their funding list.

She added: “These local authorities are predominantly, although not exclusively, in the North, but they all cover areas that are already challenged by other symptoms of deprivation and where current and prospective local authority cuts are biting most deeply.”

Speaking before members of the House of Lords, she called for the Government to make funding for the arts “a legal requirement” and to give local authorities the resources to fulfil that requirement.

She said that “talent is not centred in London, appreciation is not centred in London, the need to see oneself reflected in our world is not centred in London” and made the point that the national and international reputation of excellence in the creative arts started with individuals and groups in towns and cities across the UK .

“If we withdraw funding now we decimate the art and artists of the future,” the peer said.

“Starving the ecosystem of the tiny, the local, the experimental, the site-specific and the amateur groups, or insisting that this same list become little businesses, will simply kill the juggernaut of British theatre which has conquered Broadway and beyond.

“Could not Her Majesty’s Government consider making arts funding a legal requirement of local authorities and provide the resources to support that requirement, in order that we do not decimate arts provision outside the golden circle of the M25 and, in doing so, deprive ourselves of the artists and art of the future?”

Jane Tarr, director for the North at the Arts Council England said that the organisation is a “national champion for the arts and culture all over the country”.

“However, we’re not the biggest investor in culture in this country.

“With organisations like the National Glass Centre, The Baltic, The Sage and MIMA it’s clear that the North East is home to some world class arts and culture organisations – the result of very successful partnerships between the Arts Council, local authorities and higher education.”

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