North East MPs back inquiry into funding gap for the arts

A trio of MPs have spoken out in support of the inquiry into Arts Council England after an imbalance in funding was flagged up

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

North East MPs have backed an inquiry into why the region is losing out on funding for arts.

The Culture, Media and Sports Committee has announced it will carry out its inquiry after a report flagged up massive North-South divides in funding from Arts Council England.

The findings emerged in the Re-balancing Our Cultural Capital report which highlighted differences in funding for different parts of the country.

According to the report London benefited from £69 per head of arts cash compared to just £4.60 per head in the rest of the country.

The revelation has seen the council come under criticism of regional funding imbalances spanning decades.

North Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones said: “I welcome this inquiry and hope it looks at the allocation of arts funds because the north gets a bad deal.

“We have some fantastic and iconic art in the region and it should be properly funded.”

Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, added: “I wasn’t surprised by the direction of the report but I was surprised of the proportion of money that went to London. Newcastle and Gateshead have a lot of exciting homegrown arts projects which should be enthusiastically supported.”

The report found London, with 15% of the population of England, received 73% of the £769m distributed last year. While London’s share of £350m lottery funding for culture since 1995 was lower at 39% it was still three times per capita what the rest of England was given.

Alan Campbell, Labour MP for Tynemouth, said: “It is very important the committee is carrying out an inquiry such as this. A lot of regeneration in the North East is based on arts and culture. It is important there is a rebalance and we get our fair share.”

Arts Council chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette admitted more must be done to prevent London soaking up cultural funds from places like the north and said more focus had to be given to the regions after the findings of the damning report.

A Culture, Media and Sports Committee spokesman said: “We wish to examine the economic and artistic criteria that underpin decisions.

“Furthermore we seek views on whether the geographical distribution of funding is fair and the justification for the current weighting of this towards London.”

Written submissions should be sent online via the Arts Council England inquiry page on www.artscouncil.org.uk .

Submissions must be received by February 24.

Journalists

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