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Local authority support for the arts not only improves residents' quality of life, but also promotes community acti...
Local authority support for the arts not only improves residents' quality of life, but also promotes community activity, encourages regeneration in run-down areas and encourages tourism and inward investment.

The department of national heritage today issued guidance to local authorities in England on arts provision, and on the importance of giving due attention to the place of the arts in planning and service delivery.

The guidance has been produced by the Arts Council of England with the Regional Arts Boards, Crafts Council and British Film Institute in consultation with the department.

National heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley said:

'I pay tribute to the major part local authorities play in supporting the arts in this country. It is widely accepted that local government and the arts funding system supported by central government each contribute about the same amount of money to the arts.

'There are many reasons why local authorities support the arts: to improve the quality of life for residents; to provide a focal point for community activity and promote social cohesion; to encourage regeneration in run down areas; or to encourage tourism and inward investment. All these are very good reasons for providing support whether it is financial or in advice and other help.

'I hope the guidance my department is issuing today will be of use to all authorities, not only to those affected by local government reorganisation. Nevertheless, reorganisation does provide an opportunity for individual authorities to look to the future of their arts provision and the contribution it can make to the cultural, educational, social and economic life of the community.'

And the secretary of state highlighted the importance of the national lottery - a new and exciting element in the arts funding formula:

'The national lottery offers enormous opportunities for the arts which many local authorities have embraced. In less than a year the Arts Council of England has made 315 awards to the arts totalling £180m. This money is going to projects large and small in every corner of the land and is an entirely new contribution to the nation's cultural life. And this is just the beginning.

'The crafts too have an important part to play in our cultural and economic life, and the Crafts Council has produced complementary advice on why the crafts matter to local authorities. My department will be sending copies of this advice to local authority chief executives along with the wider arts guidance.'

- The arts text is one in a series of guidance notes prepared by the department aimed at ensuring that those local authority services for which it has policy responsibility within central government are not adversely affected by forthcoming local authority reorganisation

- Other guidance to be issued in coming weeks will cover sport, tourism and urban conservation

- Copies of the arts guidance and of the booklet 'Why do the Crafts Matter?' are being sent to the chief executives of all English local authorities. Further copies of the arts guidance are available from the Arts Council of England and the Regional Arts Boards. Additional copies of the booklet are available from the Crafts Council.

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