Labour’s John Denham has secured a debate in Parliament to ask Ministers why money promised to successful Arts Asia charity has been taken away without good reason or explanation.
The debate is taking place at 1.30pm in Westminster Hall today
In 2006 Art Asia was awarded an arts council grant to develop their own arts centre as part of a national scheme to ensure that black, ethnic minority and Chinese arts groups got a fair share of national arts funding. Art Asia agreed that it would be in everyone’s interest for them to put their grant into Southampton City Council’s proposed new arts centre, but with specific provision for Arts Asia and a role for Arts Asia in the management of the centre. But since 2010, the Arts Council and the City Council have excluded Arts Asia from their planned role in the new arts centre. In effect, the grant originally awarded to Art Asia to support their activities has been removed and is now to be used for an entirely different purpose.
Mr Denham will ask the Minister how and why Art Asia have lost their funding, and why they have never been given any clear explanation of why they have been excluded from the project. He will use material from Freedom of Information requests to shed light and how the decision was taken behind the scenes. Neither the City Council nor the Arts Council has ever given clear and unambiguous reasons for their actions.
Mr Denham said:
“Southampton is hugely fortunate to have such a popular and active cultural organisation as Arts Asia. The Mela festival attracts tens of thousands of people. They have been treated very badly. They have lost their promised grant yet, because the decision to exclude them has been taken in private, without any reasons, they have never had the chance to make their case or to protect their interests.
“I hope this debate will answer some of my questions about a long saga of events, for which neither the Arts Council nor the City Council is yet willing to take responsibility”.