Arts grants are country's worst

The Government has been accused of failing to back its levelling up agenda after the arts sector in the West Midlands received the lowest grant support in the country.

Dozens of venues across the region received nearly £17m from the Government's cultural recovery fund (CRF), with grants aimed at helping venues and organisations to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the figure – which equated to £2.86 per person – was the lowest amount of nine regions in the country.

London organisations were given £87m – £9.71 per capita, while in the South West £26.6m was handed out, £4.72 per head.

The funding comes after thousands of venues across the West Midlands, including theatres, concert halls and galleries, were forced to close due to the pandemic.

Pat McFadden MP, the Shadow City Minister, said the level of grant support for the West Midlands appeared to go against Boris Johnson's pledge to "level up" the country.

He said: "So much for levelling up.

"The West Midlands arts and cultural sector needs help just like everywhere else. Our venues can’t operate and thousands of jobs are on the line.

"Yet these figures show us receiving the lowest help per capita in the whole country. In this case the Government has certainly not put its money where its mouth is."

Albert’s Shed in Telford, which received £580,000, and The Hive arts centre in Shrewsbury, which got £74,000, were among grant recipients in Shropshire.

Further tranches of funding are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson from Arts Council England said: "The Culture Recovery Fund announcement made on Monday was for applicants to Round 1 for under £1 million and therefore does not show a complete picture of the final overall investment into the West Midlands from this vital Government funding.

"This scheme was open to applications and designed to help protect the existing cultural sector from this terrible pandemic.

"Without the outcomes of the other Culture Recovery Funds rounds and repayable finance scheme, it is not possible to see the overall investment picture across the country."

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