Arts agency 'should leave London'

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The Independent Online

Arts Council England should move from London and set up its headquarters in the regions as a "symbolic statement" of commitment to projects outside the capital, according to a leading independent think-tank.

Arts Council England should move from London and set up its headquarters in the regions as a "symbolic statement" of commitment to projects outside the capital, according to a leading independent think-tank.

Arts chiefs should prove their work does good in return for cash, and should target Britain's most deprived areas, the Institute for Public Policy Research says in its book.

It also notes that although millions of pounds are pumped into the arts each year, attempts to justify the spending are often little more than a thinly disguised bid for yet more money.

The IPPR's associate director, Ian Kearns, said that must change if the arts are to continue to secure multimillion-pound support in the face of competition from public services. The £11.5m Lotto grant given to the National Gallery to keep Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks in Britain would have paid for 600 newly qualified nurses, teachers or prison officers, he said.

The report quotes official figures showing that attendance at museums and galleries is one in four outside London compared with four in 10 in the capital. The IPPR says moving Arts Council England's headquarters into the regions could redress this leaning towards London.

For Art's Sake: Society and the Arts in the 21st Century is published on Monday.

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