A senior Government minister has promised to visit Wearside as Sunderland bids to be named the UK’s City of Culture 2021.
New Culture Minister Matt Hancock made the vow in the House of Commons after Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson raised the north/south divide in arts funding at Culture, Media and Sport Questions yesterday.
I will be taking up the new Culture Minister on his offer to come visit Sunderland.Sharon Hodgson MP
Analysis of National Lottery funding shows Arts Council England has handed out almost £3.5billion of Lottery cash across England since 1995, of which London has received £1.34billion - equivalent to £165 per head in the capital, compared to just £46.77 per head in the rest of England.
Private funding for the arts also favours London, which received 82% of private sector cash.
The situation was repeated in the most recent Budget, in which London-based arts and cultural organisations received around £54million, while those in the rest of the country shared £42.5million.
Sharon Hodgson said: “It is clear that the North South divide has seeped down into funding for the arts and culture, despite there being many important cultural venues outside of London, especially in the North East, including here in the Sunderland, such as the National Glass Centre in Sunderland and the community-based Washington Arts Centre in my own constituency.
“More must be done to reverse these trends in order that culture in our region is not negatively impacted by lack of funding support.
“One way to do this is for Sunderland to successfully win the bid for City of Culture 2021 to showcase what we have to offer to the rest of the country and also the world.
“I will be taking up the new Culture Minister on his offer to come visit Sunderland ahead of our bid for City of Culture 2021 and will be writing to him to secure a date in his diary so he can see first-hand exactly what is offer on Wearside.”