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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 14:40 GMT
Radical shake-up at Arts Council
Arts Council of England
The Arts Council has secured 100m extra funding
The Arts Council of England has unveiled plans to merge with the country's 10 regional arts boards to create a "single funding body for all the arts" in England.

Regional offices will be maintained although the fundamental re-organisation will mean job losses, but specific figures are not yet available.

This is good news for everyone who cares about the future of the arts in this country

Peter Hewitt, Arts Council of England
Gerry Robinson, the chairman of the Arts Council, said the re-structuring was the "logical and sensible way to create a much simpler, quicker system".

He said it would be "more responsive and more effective in providing a service to artists, arts organisations and arts audiences".

The plans will be implemented from July this year and have the broad approval of the government.

But they are unlikely to win support from the opposition - the Conservatives have pledged to scrap the Arts Council if it wins power.

'Major opportunities'

Stuart Timperley, chair of the English Regional Arts Boards, said: "The proposed new arrangements offer significant national advantages and also, most importantly, major opportunities to serve the arts in the regions more effectively in the future."

Currently, the 10 Regional Arts Boards are separate organisations with their own chairman, board and staff.

Angel of the North
The Ats Council funds projects such as the Angel of the North
Mr Robinson said he wanted to simplify the current arts funding system and to "lever yet more funding for the arts from government and other sources".

The Arts Council has already secured an extra 100m funding from the government with 25m of that allocated to regional theatres.

In 2001/2 the Arts Council will distribute about 252m of government money to the arts.

Peter Hewitt, chief executive of the Arts Council of England said: "For the first time in many years there will be a single body speaking for all the arts in England.

"This is good news for everyone who cares about the future of the arts in this country."

Separate Arts Councils are in charge of funding projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
'Give arts back to the people' - Tories
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Theatres share in 25m windfall
08 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Theatres: The agony and the ecstasy
01 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Arts Council to cut red tape
28 Jun 99 | Entertainment
No more 'fossils' at the Arts Council
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