THE way funding for the arts is distributed across the regions has come under fire from a leading opposition politician.

Helen Goodman, Shadow Culture Minister, highlighted the disparity in arts funding from one region to another when she opened a conference organised by the National Society for Education in Art and Design (Nsead) at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead.

Mrs Goodman told delegates she had submitted Freedom of Information requests to every local authority across England asking them about their plans for spending on the arts this year.

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“I have now received responses from a third of them and they’re telling me the overall reduction in arts budgets forced on local authorities is some 14 per cent.

“These cuts are correlated to the cuts they themselves face. Thus, Manchester’s 27 per cent cut in arts funding matches exactly the 27 per cent cut in central government grant.”

The Bishop Auckland MP added: “Of course, local authorities have choices. Westminster is cutting its arts budget to zero.

“Contrast this with Durham, which last year hosted the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Lumiere light festival, and a huge brass band celebration, or Hull, which has just become the next City of Culture.

“But perhaps Westminster can afford to spend nothing because the rest of us have given them an average of £6,300 per person from our Lottery tickets compared to the £551 per person received in Gateshead. That can’t be right.”