Arts organisations in ‘culturally underserved’ areas set to benefit from £75m of levelling up funding

Arts organisations in more than 100 culturally underserved areas of the country could benefit from £75m levelling up funding over the next three years in a drive to improve access to the arts.

Arts Council England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport announced today that they have identified 109 “Levelling Up for Culture Places”, including Wolverhampton, Hartlepool and Rotherham, where the extra funding will be directed.

Organisations old and new in areas that historically have had low investment in arts and culture will be encouraged to bid for funds, according to a DCMS statement.

The announcement comes after the government’s Levelling Up White Paper, released earlier this month, committed to tackling disparities in access to culture across the country and significantly increasing cultural investment outside London.

ACE will oversee the distribution of the funding, which is aimed at improving local access to cultural activities and making more arts-related jobs available in regions that have been previously overlooked or neglected.

Cultural organisations in London will also receive additional support to expand operations beyond the capital so more communities can benefit from their work, the DCMS statement said.

Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said in a statement: “I have said from day one in this role my priority is to increase access to arts and culture across the whole country.

“Today marks a big step in achieving this aim as we shift new cultural investment into places previously at the back of the queue.”

She went on to say that everyone should have access to cultural activities, no matter where they lived or what their background is.

Cultural investment by the government via ACE is expected to rise to almost £250m by 2025 across England outside London, equivalent to a 19 per cent increase, according to the DCMS.

Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of ACE, said the funding would “enable more people in more places to reap the benefits of arts and culture and will accelerate our commitment to parts of the country that deserve more investment”.

He said: “We will be able to do more to nurture new creative talent, support work that makes us healthier and happier, renew our high streets and, above all, ensure that everyone, everywhere, has the opportunity of a rich cultural and creative life.”

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