Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Back North East Arts Funding and Close Economic Gap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Back North East Arts Funding and Close Economic Gap

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs reporter rachel.wearmouth@ncjmedia.co.uk

CLOSING the economic gap between the region and the South is only possible if the arts get the support they need to thrive, leading figures say. A concentration of funds on London's cultural scene is seen as a "direct contradiction" to the Government's drive to create a 'Northern Powerhouse' to rival London's dominance and regional figures are calling for a stronger commitment.

The Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital report last year highlighted how for every PS69 per head spent on culture in London by the Government, just PS4.50 per head was spent in the North East.

Now, as controls over huge areas of public spending are set to be devolved, Jim Beirne, chief executive of Live Theatre, said power-holders must take their lead from Greater Manchester and back the region's arts if the region is to grow. He said: "Culture and economy are the twin pillars of any successful city. If the culture of a place is successful, it'll be safe, universities will thrive, students will stay, SMEs will succeed and so will the economy. Manchester has understood this inseparable link between culture and economy. With the potential devolution of resources (always better spent locally or regionally) I would support and encourage the LEPs in the region and the Combined Authority to consider arts and culture as a fundamental tool in making our region a more successful place. "As the information age develops we will need more creative and conceptual thinkers - it is these people that will drive our economy of the future - and they will only flourish where arts and culture are embedded in a town, a city or region."

The call comes after swingeing cuts were made to public subsidies for the arts over the last Parliament and as Chancellor George Osborne eyes more cuts to the public sector over the next five years. …

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