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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Brown pledges 75m arts boost
Natural History Museum, London
Free entry for museums began last year
Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised to give an extra 75m to the arts by 2005/6 in the government's comprehensive spending review.

The extra money will widen access to culture and create an "avalanche of art", Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said in the wake of the announcement.

Mr Brown also said he would maintain free access to Britain's national museums, saying attendance at museums had risen by 75% since the government abolished entry fees last year.

Funding for the BBC World Service would also be 38m higher by 2005/6, Mr Brown told the House of Commons.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown pledged new funding for the World Service
Ms Jowell said the arts boost amounted to a 16% increase.

However the new funding levels apply only to England, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland making their own financial arrangements for the arts.

Spending plans

Mr Brown, delivering his spending plans for the next three years, pledged that funding to culture, media, sport and tourism would rise from 1.3bn in 2002 to 1.6bn by 2006.

The rise amounted to the equivalent of funding for five more National Theatres, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Arts Council funding in England
2002/3 297m
2005/6 412m
Mr Brown said: "With this increase, Britain will maintain free access to national museums, we will invest in regional museums and expand local creative arts partnerships."

Ms Jowell said the funding levels would give her the "resources needed to nurture and reward talent and excellence".

"It places a new emphasis on realising the potential of the arts, culture, and sport to enrich the lives of young people, especially those living in deprived areas," she added.

The spending review means arts funding will increase from 297m this financial year to 412m in 2005/6.

Tom Stoppard
Stoppard: Questioned the government's spending policy
Ms Jowell said the "cash injection" was a vote of confidence in and a reward for the Arts Council's continuing radical reforms, which aim to unite and streamline the funding process for all of England.

"I am confident that we can turn this new money into an avalanche of art and creativity, right across the country," she said.

But the arts funding levels may not please everyone.

The outgoing director of the crisis-hit British Museum, Dr Robert Anderson, called on the government last month to hand over 10m to secure the future of the cultural institution.

Warning

The museum is shedding 150 jobs to combat a projected 5m deficit.

He said the government needed to bail it out because the use of reserve funds were "eating into the core activity of the museum".

And in recent months a number of high-profile arts figures have questioned the government's commitment to the arts.

Chris Smith, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, recently warned the arts community not to become complacent over funding.

'Shouting'

He urged organisations to convince the Treasury that the arts still need a substantial injection of money.

His legacy was a 60% rise in arts funding but as the Treasury was preparing its spending review, he said it was time to pile on the pressure to secure more money.

"We should always be shouting from the rooftops about what the arts can give us, what they mean to us and how they can move us," he said.

'Lucky'

Playwright Tom Stoppard has said the government's "parsimony" towards the arts could be traced back to the days of Margaret Thatcher.

"But I can't say Mr Blair has reversed it," he told the New Statesman.

"They get cross if you say so. Because the Arts Council kitty goes up a bit and the National Theatre gets 12m, the feeling is the arts should think themselves lucky and shut up."

In 2000, Mr Brown announced a 100m increase for the arts, increasing to 338m in 2003-04.

Victoria Todd of the National Campaign for the Arts - an independent lobbying group - told BBC News Online she was pleased with Monday's announcement.

She said: "It was far better than we had a right to expect. We were warned by various departments that we couldn't expect any increase.

"I wait with baited breath as to how Tessa Jowell is going to divide these spoils up. We still have enormous concerns about decreases in lottery funding due to decreased sales - there doesn't seem to be any contingency plan.

"I'm encouraged and quite enthusiastic - it is a question of what is happening to the money."

The government's plans for future spending are published on 15 July

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