Lottery cash for arts must reach North East and not just London says Labour MP

Nick Brown, MP for Newcastle East, says 81% of lottery and private funding goes to organisations in the capital

Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown
Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown

Lottery cash and private funding for the arts must reach the North East and not just London, a North East MP has said.

Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, asked Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to rebalance arts and culture funding as announcements on Arts Council cash left a number of North East organisations reeling.

At a debate in the House of Commons, he said 82% of all private funding for the arts goes to London and the ratio between the capital and English regions stands at 14:1.

A total of 42 North East organisations will now receive £53.7m over three years from next April after Arts Council England revealed the organisations to benefit from public subsidies - its National Portfolio - between 2015 and 2018.

But while the announcement was good news for some, it was a body blow to others, such as Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) which failed to regain support from the Arts Council and is to lose all of its funding. Hexham-based Théâtre Sans Frontières (TSF), was also told it would get no more money from next year.

Eleanor Dennison, Louis Roberts, Justine Adams and Bidi Iredale in NTC's Once Upon a Time In the North
Eleanor Dennison, Louis Roberts, Justine Adams and Bidi Iredale in NTC's Once Upon a Time In the North
 

Northern Architecture, Design Event and Tees Music Alliance have all been stripped of National Portfolio status and Side Gallery, Newcastle, which lost funding in 2011, failed in its bid to get back on the list.

Mr Brown has now asked the Culture Minister to look specifically at how lottery cash is handed out in a bid to save vital arts projects in the North East.

He said: “Organisations in Newcastle, such as Seven Stories, Live Theatre as well as Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums have done well in the funding round from the Arts Council.

“This goes some way to making up for dramatic local authority cuts in arts funding.

“The long term problem is that too high a proportion of lottery money and private funding is concentrated on London.

“The minister should seriously think about the ‘Rebalancing our Cultural Capital’ report’s recommendations, which urges a regional element to redress the balance.”

Seven Stories
Seven Stories
 

Organisations which were successful include Seven Stories, which will benefit from £3.1m over three years, Theatre Hullabaloo in Darlington, which has been awarded £1.5m, and Durham County Council which has allocated cash for the ever-popular Lumiere light festival.

Gem Arts, the North East development agency specialising in South Asian arts, will get a funding increase of 60%, Arc, in Stockton-on-Tees will get support for the Stockton International Riverside Festival and Northern Print, in Newcastle, which organises the Print Biennale was awarded a capital grant of £147,000 for improvements to its studio in Ouseburn Valley.

Mr Vaizey’s reply did not sugest any change in approach from the Government, however.

He said: “I am very happy to join the right hon. Gentleman in congratulating Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums — it is a fantastic place that I have visited on at least one occasion. I am pleased that following the Arts Council settlement the balance between London and the regions has shifted in favour of the regions.

“As he knows, I believe that every arts organisation around the country is capable of raising private funding and should be doing so.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer