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Ed Vaizey rejects arts funding criticism

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Culture minister Ed Vaizey has defended the coalition government’s record on arts funding, following a series of scathing attacks from leading theatre industry figures.

In a letter to The Stage, Vaizey challenges claims of “alleged government indifference and a lack of public funding”.

He said: “In the current debate about arts funding, I agree with much of what has been said. Yes, our regional theatres are very good value and, yes, they produce brilliant work.

“We are living in tough economic times. But despite that, over the life of this parliament, we’ll be investing £2.9 billion in the arts. How? We secured a fair settlement for the arts in the comprehensive spending review and we also reformed the National Lottery, increasing the share to the arts back to what it was when the Lottery was set up.”

He also defends the government against accusations by National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner that it has done “next to nothing” to encourage philanthropy.

“My department and the Lottery have set up a £100 million fund that arts companies can apply to help develop endowments and increase their ability to raise funds,” he adds.

“The Bristol Old Vic, for example, has received £240,000, as have the Liverpool Everyman and Sheffield Theatres, while the West Yorkshire Playhouse has received £231,000, Northern Stage £179,000 and Chichester and the Salisbury Playhouse £120,000 each.”

Vaizey’s letter follows renewed criticism by Hytner and Olympics opening ceremony director Danny Boyle at the London Evening Standard Awards last weekend.

For Vaizey’s letter in full, see this week’s print edition of The Stage.