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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 10:04 GMT


Funding boost for arts

A new strategy for the film industry is expected

The Culture Secretary Chris Smith has announced a £290m cash boost for art galleries, museums and other cultural centres.

Chris Smith: "From April next year all children will get in for free to national museums and galleries"
The national museums and art collections have already been promised extra cash.

In return they will have to attract more visitors and provide better educational facilities.

Those that charge for entry will be expected to introduce free admission, particularly for children and pensioners.

The minister confirmed that from April 1999 all children would get in for free to major national museums and galleries and pensioners would have free access from April 2000.

Mr Smith is also expected to announce the creation of a culture watchdog to oversee standards in the arts, museums, sport, tourism and film sectors.

The extra funding over three years was announced in the summer, but details of the cash carve-up will be set out on Monday.

[ image: Chris Smith: Money will come with tight strings]
Chris Smith: Money will come with tight strings
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport's announcement will also finalise its plans to rationalise the organisations it funds following consultation.

"We're getting rid of overlapping bureaucracies and make sure that every pound that is being spent in the arts or in cultural activity is being spent as efficiently as possible," he told BBC Radio's Today programme.

Some bodies are predicted to disappear under the reform - among them the Royal Fine Arts Commission headed by Lord St John Stevas.

Others will be created, for instance a comprehensive body for film strategy and funding, currently split between the Arts Councils, British Film Institute, British Screen and the British Film Commission.

Mr Smith said it would be replaced by a new body which he jokingly referred to as the Royal Fine Arts Commission Plus.

He told the BBC: "The Royal Fine Art Commission has done a very good job up till now, but we think that we need something that has a bit of a wider remit, that can act as more of a champion for architecture and good quality in design."

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