Arts face the end of lottery funding

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The Independent Online
ALL National Lottery funding for the arts could be withdrawn by the Government at the end of 2001. The Government has refused to reassure the Arts Council that lottery funding will be available for any arts sector from the start of 2002,the expiry date for the licence of Camelot, the lottery operator.

The only exception will be the three National Lottery film production "mini-studios", which last May were awarded up to pounds 92.25m over a six-year period. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has told the Arts Council of England (ACE) it will honour contracts signed with film-makers including Duncan Kenworthy, producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Andrew Macdonald, producer of Trainspotting. A senior arts administrator claims the Government may channel all lottery arts cash into health and education - the "sixth" good cause to which it started to allocate money last year - from 2002.

But such a measure would provoke fierce opposition from the arts community, a vociferous critic of government arts policy.

Theatre directors Peter Hall and Michael Bogdanov have lambasted the Government for its infatuation with the "cultural industries" at the expense of more traditional art forms. Charles Denton, a former head of BBC television drama and current chairman of the Arts Council's lottery film panel, has confirmed there is a question mark over all Lottery arts funding from the end of 2001.

Alarm bells were triggered at the Arts Council when it wrote to the culture ministry in December saying that it would be happy to contribute pounds 70m-pounds 75m to the plan to enclose London's South Bank complex with a transparent roof, but only if it was allowed to spread its commitment to the project between now and 2004.

The DCMS declined to give any such assurance.

If the Government does close down all Lottery arts funding it would blow a big hole in the Arts Council's budget. In 1997 all four arts councils - England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales - were given about pounds 247m of lottery cash compared with their combined government grant of about pounds 228m.