Sunderland museums and arts centres lose out as donations head to London

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CULTURAL attractions in Sunderland are feeling the pinch as donations continue to be directed towards London.

Major venues in the capital now account for 90 per cent of all UK individual donations, totalling more than £335million.

Meanwhile, museums and arts centres in Wearside are struggling, with the North East’s £3.2million of donations representing the country’s lowest regional funding level.

Visitor numbers to its attractions are also suffering, with the 300,847 who came to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens in 2012/13 down eight per cent on the previous year.

Monkwearmouth Station Museum also saw its numbers drop, down almost five per cent on last year with 27,530 visitors, while Washington Pit recorded only 639 visitors, down 53.5 per cent.

Philip Spedding, director of the not-for-profit group Arts & Business, which compiled the figures, said it is a worrying time. “Two main concerns arise from the figures,” he said.

“First, the increasing dominance of cultural organisations based in London in terms of who is raising the most money.

“Second, the increasing reliance by the cultural sector on Trust and Foundation support.

“There is a danger of an almost perfect storm of public sector cuts, private sector money not being there to make a financial difference and, of course, challenges in generating income from the public.

“So it is a worrying time for arts organisations outside London. Those that will get through are those that will think imaginatively and creatively.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, regional director of the Arts Council, added: “There has always been a difference in levels of private giving towards the arts in London and the rest of the country, and bridging this gap is no mean task but it is something we must do.

“Although the figures are stark on a first look, real progress is being made in the North East.

“It’s worth highlighting that a portion of donations to London-based organisations actually goes towards arts provision across the country, including the North East.”