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Fenland poets and artists join MP Steve Barclay in call for better arts funding locally

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Local MP Steve Barclay is calling for better funding for the arts in this area following a special meeting held in March.

Steve Barclay MP hosted an arts funding meeting. (7016287)
Steve Barclay MP hosted an arts funding meeting. (7016287)

The North East Cambs MP took a break from his job as Brexit Secretary to return to constituency matters on Friday when he hosted what he described as a "positive meeting" at March Town Hall.

Among those invited to the arts summit were representatives from the Arts Council, local arts organisations, Fenland District Council as well as a professional artist from the area.

Steve Barclay MP hosted an arts funding meeting. (7016285)
Steve Barclay MP hosted an arts funding meeting. (7016285)

The aim was to discuss how arts funding can be improved in this area so more people can be encouraged to get involved.

Mr Barclay said: "There is scope for our area to secure more funding for the arts. Specifically, there is a gap between the money provided centrally by Government and the National Lottery, and what is received for arts provision locally compared with metropolitan areas.

"Many local artists find the process of securing funding opaque and burdensome. So, on Friday I called together 20 key arts figures to discuss how we improve arts funding so it can better engage a local audience.

"We had a very positive meeting at March Town Hall. It was an opportunity to learn more about the current arts provision within Fenland and East Cambs, from the viewpoint of local poets and artists in terms of how much funding was being awarded, the sticking points when accessing funding, and what could be done positively to resolve these issues.

"There was a constructive discussion from everyone around the table with many problems being identified and ideas being raised."

As the Arts Council for England were present, questions about sourcing grants were a key focus. Ideas discussed included sharing the evidence needed by funders so each artist submitting a bid does not have to duplicate the same work.

Mr Barclay added: "We agreed aseries of actions with a follow up meeting planned."

Natalie Phillips, relationship manager, engagement and audiences, South East Arts Council England said afterwards: “It was great to meet Steve and his team, and to be introduced to such a positive arts community from Fenland."

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