Today, John Mann MP published research into the scandal of low levels of Arts and Sports funding in former coalfield communities ahead of a debate in parliament.
My research has revealed a huge disparity in Arts and Sports Funding between London and the former English coalfields. Since I first highlighted this issue to Parliament in 2007, it remains the case that some London boroughs receive more funding than entire regions of the UK. Indeed, Islington has received more Arts Council funding in absolute terms than large parts of the former coalfields, let alone on a per capita basis.
For the last 10 years, I have repeatedly drawn Ministers’ attention to the deficit of culture spending on the coalfields. Whilst residents in some places are falling over dance studios, orchestras and operas, people in my area must travel miles to get anything like the same quality of provision.
A lack of access to theatres, concerts and museums puts children in the former coalfields at a severe disadvantage compared to their peers in London. A lack of sporting facilities compound inequalities in health outcomes and deny vital opportunities to young people simply because of where they grow up.
I am calling on the government to act to make sure every child has the same access, wherever they grow up. That means Ministers immediately holding the Arts Council and Sport England to account over the public money they distribute and making sure that coalfield areas like mine get the funding they deserve. Those distributing public money have a responsibility to ensure fair access, and to work with communities to ensure that all share in the benefits.
Read my full report here.
My Yorkshire Post piece on this issue can be read here.