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Norwich Theatre Royal boss backs call for more arts project funding outside of London

PUBLISHED: 09:10 05 November 2014 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 November 2014

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

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

Archant Norfolk

The boss of one of Norwich’s theatres has supported a call for the Arts Council to devote more of its funding to projects outside London.

Projects like The Wind in the Willows production by Norwich Theatre Royal arts course students earlier this year could benefit from more funding. 
Photo: Sonya Suncan.Projects like The Wind in the Willows production by Norwich Theatre Royal arts course students earlier this year could benefit from more funding. Photo: Sonya Suncan.

A report from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has said Arts Council England should speed up the process of shifting National Lottery money away from the capital and that any future increase in the taxpayer grant to the organisation should be earmarked for projects outside the M25.

The group of MPs also called for the Arts Council and government minister Ed Vaizey to take a tougher line with local authorities such as Westminster which had slashed or scrapped funding for the arts and were “in danger of acquiring the status of cultural pariahs”.

In response to the new report, Peter Wilson, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, said: “We fully support the process of redressing the Lottery balance between London and the regions. We know that the Arts Council is working hard to accelerate the process, and will work with them in any capacity.

“In the meantime the Theatre Royal is sure that none of Norfolk’s local authorities wishes to be included in the list of cultural pariahs by slashing their precious arts budgets, and will help in every possible way to encourage them to maintain the crucial flow of money to our cultural leaders.”

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s Tory chairman John Whittingdale said: “The Arts Council generally does a good job in allocating limited resources between many competing demands.

“However, there is a clear imbalance in arts funding in favour of London – which the Arts Council itself admits...We welcome the efforts already being made by the Arts Council to shift lottery funding outside of London but would like to see this done faster.”

Harriet Harman, Labour’s shadow culture, media and sport secretary, said: “There is a real imbalance in arts funding between London and the regions and this is made worse because arts philanthropy is scarce outside the capital.”

Arts Council England chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette said: “The report suggests that greater urgency is required around the rebalancing debate and we are pleased that it has acknowledged that we are tackling this, and that there is ‘much to praise in the hard work of the Arts Council’.”

He also said the commitment of local authorities to support culture was “one of the crucial factors for the arts funding landscape”.

• Do you think the Arts Council should support more projects outside London? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, Norwich Evening News, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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