East England is getting less than rest of country for the arts

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Simon Finlay

Our continued poor deal on arts funding has been laid bare in new figures which show the gulf between the amount spent on the arts in London and our region.

Industry leaders called for a rethink after parliamentary figures showed how Arts Council England spends £26.02 for each of the capital's 8.5m population, while spending just £5.91 per person in the East of England.

The director of the King's Lynn Arts Centre Trust, which is set to close its galleries at the end of the month because of a lack of funding, accused the government of a 'blinkered' approach, which ignored the huge benefit cultural hubs brought.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey insisted there was a shift in funding away from London, saying Arts Council England (ACE) was increasing the percentage of lottery funding distributed outside London from 70pc to 75pc by the end of 2018; and more than £31m of its £35m Ambition for Excellence fund would be spent outside London.

Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive Peter Wilson said he would like to see local authorities having more say over how arts funding from the Lottery was allocated. He said restrictions since 2008 had forced many authorities to abandon arts funding and support entirely.

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'If the government is serious about devolving to the regions, locally elected representatives should be given formal authority over access to Lottery capital resources.'

An Arts Council spokesman said: 'The East of England has historically had a lower arts and culture spend than other regions but we are working hard to address this. The Arts Council has invested more than £30m in the East for the year 2015/2016 alone, ranging from revenue for Norfolk and Norwich Festival, Seachange Arts in Great Yarmouth, through to the Focal Point Gallery in Essex and to projects such as Creative People and Places.'

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Roger Wright, Aldeburgh Music's chief executive, said: 'East Anglia has a hugely rich cultural offering and its arts and heritage organisations have been proven to bring a broad economic benefit to the region.

'However, it is important to remember organisations such as ours regularly rely on partnerships with London-funded companies and it is therefore vital to us all in the arts sector that London continues to thrive as a world-leading cultural capital.'

Should more arts funding come to the East? You can leave your comments below.

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