Bottomley admits hitches with arts lottery funding

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The Independent Online
The Government has admitted that some good causes that have been awarded cash from the National Lottery may not get their money.

Responding to recent reports in The Independent, Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for National Heritage, said yesterday that there could be some cases of good causes which have been promised money in the full glare of publicity but would not actually receive the cash.

"There may be some, who for unforeseen reasons don't get their lottery money," she said. "But I would be surprised if any but a handful fail to deliver the criteria that have been set for them."

The Arts Council, which distributes lottery money to the good causes, is warning that some proposed beneficiaries may have to be "reassessed", and could yet not be given their promised money.

This will happen if there is a cut in their annual revenue grant, which means that their artistic and business plans fail to satisfy the council that they could manage big redevelopment plans funded by lottery cash.

Such a scenario looks increasingly likely as Mrs Bottomley signalled yesterday that she had failed to convince the Treasury of the need to increase arts spending. At a private briefing, she emphasised the Government's priority was to keep pressure on public spending, and to concentrate on health, education and law and order.

She could not be "inviolate" from the public-spending crackdown, she said, but emphasised how she had fought to keep millions of pounds of lottery money going to the arts.

Among the institutions which could yet lose some or all of their promised lottery money are the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Cambridge Arts Theatre and the Yorkshire Dance Centre in Leeds.

Ironically, Mrs Bottomley will today make a speech in Leeds singling out the Yorkshire Dance Centre as an example of how the lottery is transforming both the arts and the process of urban regeneration.

She will tell the British Urban Regeneration Association Conference: "Here in Leeds the Yorkshire Dance Centre's dance theatre project, Union City, has brought together the talents of 14 young people from inner-city areas of Leeds. Their latest production, Paradise Vibe, is a unique expression of the cultural diversity of young people ... in British cities and speaks directly to young people ...

"I am pleased that this year Yorkshire Dance received a National Lottery award for pounds 606,000 and that work is now under way to equip and modernise the centre."

But the Arts Council has confirmed that the Dance Centre might not receive the money as a cut in annual revenue grant would adversely affect the artistic and business plans it submitted before being granted lottery cash.

The Government's annual grant to the arts will be announced after the Budget, but projections are for a cut of at least pounds 3m. Mrs Bottomley said yesterday that the annual grant to the Arts Council was only one part of the picture. The massive amount of lottery money that had gone to the arts also had to be taken into account.