Plymouth Theatre Royal boss's anger at massive funding gap
The chief executive of Plymouth's Theatre Royal has spoken out about the disparity of funding between London and cities like Plymouth.
Adrian Vinken highlighted the massive funding gap during an interview on Radio 4's Today programme with the BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz.
It came on the back of a report which noted how central government spending on the arts and culture in London amounted to £69 per resident in 2012/213, compared to £4.60 per person elsewhere in England.
The report found the Arts Council England split £163m of taxpayers' money to cultural organisations in London in the same year – nearly five times as much spent per resident outside the capital.
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Mr Vinken told the BBC's arts editor the funding gap, which had gone on for the past 30 years, was an "unacceptable state of affairs".
He said: "You can't have more than 80% of the taxation raised from everybody living in this country going to the benefit of 15% of the population.
"The imbalance is too great, particularly when state intervention, government funding is normally there to redress imbalances, to get rid of the inequity and to give us a level playing field no matter where you live in the country."
He added that while the massive funding of London's arts and culture was the cause of the problem, it was exacerbated by "two major existing inequities".
He noted how around 90% of the philanthropic giving to cultural institutions in England went to London as well as around 70% of all sponsorship. He said: "So the playing field is already hugely tilted in favour of London and the government is exacerbating it."
The Theatre Royal recently underwent a £7m revamp, receiving £5m from the Arts Council, but only on the condition that the theatre found the remaining £2m. To cover this cost, Plymouth City Council brought forward three years of annual grants to secure the Arts Council money, with £0.5m coming from the theatre's reserves.
During the interview Mr Vinken said £100,000 would "sink without trace" in London's "massive cultural economy". However the same amount would "transform people's lives" and make a "lasting legacy for communities" in places like Carlisle, Bodmin or Wolverhampton.
He also said that for the "average Plymothian, or someone living in Cornwall" to visit London they would be left paying a £150 return second-class train journey, an overnight stay of between "£100 to £150 per person.
"If you're a family of four you are looking at the wrong end of £1,000 just to enjoy a free day at the British Museum".
He said a trip to the theatre in London was "way beyond the disposable income for a working family in this region".