In my role as the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism I am in regular contact with the Chairs and CEO’s of national organisations which promote the arts. One such organisation which I superintend as Arts Minister is Arts Council England (ACE) who are a non-departmental public body which uses and distributes lottery funding to promote the performing, visual and literary arts in England.
As an organisation that uses public funding and therefore, an arm’s length body of my government department, I meet regularly with their Chairman Sir Nicholas Serota, who controls a budget of hundreds of millions of pounds a year for the Arts in this country.
In the last fortnight Sir Nicholas visited Northampton at my invitation and I showcased some of the outstanding arts provision we have in our town.
I brought Sir Nicholas to the award-winning Grade II* listed Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, located on Derngate – which is the only house in England designed by the famous and ground-breaking artist Charles Mackintosh. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a famous and influential British architect, designer and artist during the late 1890s and early 1900s, and the House museum, built in 1916, now contains a boutique restaurant, art galleries, a stylish design shop as well as elegant spaces that can be used for events and functions.
I also welcomed the ACE Chair to Northampton School for Boys to show him the great arts education available in Northampton that is being referenced elsewhere in the country to help the promotion of arts teaching elsewhere. Sir Nicholas was bowled over by Northampton and our wide array of arts provisions.
Three-quarters of all ACE funding now goes to projects outside the Greater London area and by bringing Sir Nicholas to Northampton and showcasing our great talent I hope that we can see more assistance to the arts in Northampton.