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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 18:48 GMT
'Give arts back to the people' - Tories
Tate Modern Gallery, London
Conservatives say they want to set artists free
National Lottery punters would have a bigger say in where its profits go under Conservative plans for the arts and sport.

Stepping up the election "phoney war", shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth said ministers had too much control over funding.

A National Lottery ticket
National Lottery players would have bigger say
The Arts Council of England would be replaced by a radical alternative more in tune with artists' needs, according to the Tory mini-manifesto.

But Labour condemned the plans as "ill-conceived".

The Conservatives would:

  • Scrap sections of the National Curriculum to free classroom time for sports and the arts.

  • Free the New Opportunities Fund, which decides on lottery grants, from government control to give the public a bigger say in spending.

  • Privatise Channel 4 to create a 3bn arts endowment fund.

    Launching the document beside Auguste Rodin's statue The Burghers of Calais near the Palace of Westminster, Mr Ainsworth said the Tories were committed to the arts.

    'Bottom-up approach'

    "We want to give the arts back to the arts and the National Lottery back to individuals and communities - really back to the original idea that it was going to be a bottom-up approach to funding for things that were always going to be at the back of the queue," said Mr Ainsworth.

    "The key note is freedom. Reducing bureaucracy, reducing state control and dependency for the arts, a huge commitment to the arts in terms of a #3 billion endowment fund and a pledge to reform the structure of arts funding in this country.

    "I am always struck by how strange it is that the Arts Council, whose only real job in life is to hand out cheques, is neither respected or liked by an awful lot of people in the arts.


    We want to give the arts back to the arts and the National Lottery back to individuals and communities

    Peter Ainsworth
    "There must be something wrong. There has to be a better way of doing it."

    Culture Secretary Chris Smith said that the plan for an endowment fund was "ill-conceived" and would mean cuts to lottery-funded projects around the country.

    "It takes 1bn from lottery money that has already been allocated to sports, arts and community projects up and down the country and 2 billion from privatising Channel 4 - a policy that would do untold damage to British broadcasting," he said.

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    See also:

    27 Feb 01 | Entertainment
    Arts world at Downing Street
    14 Jan 01 | Scotland
    Authors hit Lottery jackpot
    15 May 00 | Business
    Channel 4 float 'scrapped'
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