Culture Festival in Pounds 5m Windfall; Government Makes U-Turn to Double Funding for 2008

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Byline: BY ADRIAN BUTLER Daily Post Staff

THE Government last night pledged an extra pounds 5m towards Liverpool's Capital of Culture celebrations.

The announcement comes in the same month that both Tony Blair and his culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, said the city would get no further backing towards 2008.

The U-turn, announced by the Arts Council England, North West, virtually doubles the Government cash Liverpool is to receive.

But city councillors last night vowed to continue to lobby the Labour Government for more money, saying there was still a massive shortfall to be made up.

Cllr Warren Bradley, Liverpool's Executive Member for Culture, said last night: 'We are going to keep pushing them for more money.

For the year alone we have planned to spend pounds 60m.'

The new grant will join three previous grants in supporting the city and arts organisations on Merseyside. They were: pounds 5m which the Department of Culture Media and Sport earmarked in its funding settlement to the Arts Council last December; pounds 250,000 for a friendship project; pounds 100,000 to pay for a presentation. With the new grant, the total cash from central government now stands at pounds 10,350,000.

In addition, three private companies, Hill Dickinson, United Utilities and Radio City, have each pledged pounds 2m towards the fund, with at least two more highprofile companies expected to follow in the next month.

The Government's decision contradicts a statement last week from Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

Ms Jowell said: 'It was made quite clear from the outset of the competition that bidding cities would have to meet the costs of fulfilling their commitments and that there should be no assumption of government funding.'

Liverpool's extra pounds 5m will be used to support the Culture Company's work in producing the international festival in 2008, and in supporting the development of the arts in the city over the coming three years.

Last night Cllr Bradley said: 'It's not great, but it's a start. It's about delivering the best Capital of Culture ever. We have fought hard for this money.

'Support will need to grow from all sectors if we are to make the best possible contribution and create the impact we all want to make in 2008.'

'Hopefully central government will look upon Liverpool more favourably after the Olympic bid.'

Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister told the Daily Post London's bid for the 2012 Olympics should not be compared with Capital of Culture He said: 'The basis on which the Capital of Culture is decided is very different from the Olympics.

'The only way you can bid for the Olympics is if the Government provides significant monetary guarantees. …