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Councils should be forced to fund the arts

Former culture secretary Chris Smith has called on the Coalition to “look again” at the idea of imposing a legal duty on local councils to fund the arts.

Smith is one of many high-profile figures outlining concern about cuts to local authority funding and how they could affect arts organisations. He said he was even more concerned about local funding than Arts Council England cuts, which will be announced at the end of March.

Smith said he had discussed making arts services a statutory duty for local authorities when he was in office during Tony Blair’s first government, however, at that time there was concern that this would stop councils from excelling by introducing a 'lowest common denominator' threshold.

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