Rochdale and Wigan could get more arts funding in ‘levelling up’ push

Rochdale and Wigan could be in line for most arts funding, a government paper has revealed.

As part of its plans to plough funding into arts and culture outside of London, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said more than 100 places outside of London will benefit from extra cash from 2023.

Places such as Stoke-on-Trent, Barnsley, Rochdale and Wigan may end up being given further support under the plans.

The announcement comes ahead of the publication of the Leveling Up White Paper, which is due this week.

Arts Council England will identify the locations and DCMS said 100 percent of the additional funding for the group agreed in the recent Spending Review will go to supporting culture and creativity outside of London.

DCMS told the PA news agency the amount of additional funding going to areas outside of London would be set out at a later stage.

In the Spending Review, presented to Parliament in October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said more than £850 million was being invested in cultural and heritage infrastructure.

A total of £52 million is also to be spent on museums and cultural and sporting bodies from this year to help them recover from the pandemic, while an additional £49 million in 2024 to 2025 will be given afterwards.

DCMS is also working with Arts Council England to identify a number of cultural organizations that wish to move outside or increase their presence outside of London.

The Government is also planning to allocate more than £150 million of investment via the Cultural Investment Fund, of which the majority of winners are also expected to come from outside London.

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National arts and culture organizations will also be asked to be more ambitious on diversity both in the boardroom and in the workforce to help engage with a wider audience and better reflect the communities they serve across the country.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “From my very first day in the department, I’ve been clear that I want to increase access to arts and culture – particularly in parts of the UK that have too often been overlooked.

“Artistic talent can be found in every corner of the nation. Arts funding should be spread as evenly – but for too long there has been an imbalance in how that cash is handed out. We’re going to address this as part of our plans to level up the country.

“I don’t want anybody to ever think that the arts might not be for them because of where they are born, or where they live. Everybody should have the chance to enjoy or work in the world of arts and culture, and this move will make a fundamental difference in towns and cities which have been left behind for far too long.”

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “This very welcome new funding announced by the Secretary of State means we’ll be able to accelerate our investment in towns and cities across the country, building on increases we’ve made over the past few years.

“Distributing our investment more evenly means we share the magic, share the excitement, share the possibilities of creativity and culture for people and places who deserve more of the spotlight.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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