Strategy for arts comes under fire from regions

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The Independent Online
THE COUNTRY'S first National Arts and Media Strategy has failed to convince those administering the arts throughout the country. None of the 10 regional arts boards has endorsed the strategy, drawn up by the Arts Council.

The chairmen of all the boards have met Lord Palumbo, the Arts Council chairman, and expressed their misgivings about the document. Today there will be a separate meeting in London of RAB chief executives.

Mick Elliott, the West Midlands Arts Board chief executive who chairs the RAB group, said yesterday that 'you could say that part of the concern has been calling the document a strategy. It doesn't seem to be a strategy. A strategy means needing to know where you're at, where you're going to and how it will change practice'.

A spokesman for the South- West Arts Board, which covers six counties, added: 'It doesn't address where we want to be or how we're going to get there. And crucially it takes no account of the issue of delegation (of funding arts bodies from the Arts Council to the regional boards).

'We want to know what will be the role of the Arts Council if delegation goes ahead. It is essential to know that, but it's not included. The document is a shopping list without priorities.'

The strategy, which was commissioned by the Government two years ago, cost pounds 250,000 to draw up, and is being studied by the Secretary of State for National Heritage, Peter Brooke.

It recommends support being given to the amateur arts, and a programme to refurbish theatres and concert halls. But there is no mention of how much provision there should be in the regions, or what should be the responsibilities of the Government, local government and funding quangos.

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