Culture secretary Maria Miller to make 'economic case' to stave off further arts cuts


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The Independent Culture

Culture secretary Maria Miller is to call on arts organisations for support as she seeks to make the “economic case” for the sector; a move designed to head off further funding cuts.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will today give her first keynote speech on the arts after her appointment in October in which she will call for a united front between the Government and arts organisations.

The minister will ask the arts grandees gathered at the British Museum to “help me reframe the argument; to hammer home the value of culture to our economy” as she seeks convince her Cabinet colleagues of the sector’s importance.

She will warn of the need to present a clear case for the arts in the weeks ahead of the 2015/16 spending review and underline the need to increase funding from alternative sources beyond the public purse.

The arts must demonstrate the “healthy dividends that our investment continues to pay” and how they drive economic growth beyond their social value, she will say.

Funding cuts have seen tensions raise between arts organisations and the Government, and Miller has faced calls to protect funding for sectors under particular strain such as regional theatre.

Today she is expected to underline her support for the arts, saying: “I want to make it clear here, today, that I am fighting your corner as hard as I can within Government.”

She will say: “I know this will not be to everyone’s taste but in an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact.”

In a period of transition the Government wants participants not bystanders she is expected to say. “I need you all to accept this fundamental premise, and work with me to develop the argument.”