MP Barclay “concerned” about how £1 million Arts Council grant will be spent in Fenland

Antonia Byatt, MP Steve Barclay and Kathy Fawcett.

Antonia Byatt, MP Steve Barclay and Kathy Fawcett. - Credit: Archant

An MP is “concerned” about how a £1million grant to increase participation in the arts in Fenland will be spent.

During a meeting with Arts Council representatives, MP Steve Barclay highlighted that about two thirds of the cash from the Arts Council’s Creative People and Places initiative will be spent on administration costs, staffing over the three years, a business plan and an end-of-project report.

Only about a third will be spent on art events such as an arts trail, initial heritage arts and a creative hub which could be on-line.

The money cannot be spent on capital projects like the creation of an arts centre in March. It may instead be used to put on events such as lantern parades, circus type events and carnivals in each of the towns.

During his meeting with Kathy Fawcett, Cambridgeshire’s relationship manager for museums, and Antonia Byatt Cambridgeshire director for arts and literature, Mr Barclay said all Fenland towns already have major annual open air events.

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He pointed out that March lacks a proper venue for the arts and emphasised the need for such a facility, pointing out the town’s community centre in Station Road is already home to three performance groups and other arts organisations.

The Arts Council representatives disputed Mr Barclay’s figures, but promised to go away and have a look at what is being proposed in Fenland, particularly March and Wisbech.

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Mr Barclay said: “It is great that we have had all this funding, but I am concerned that it will not be spent as the community wants or needs.

“I welcome the fact the Arts Council will be taking a second look at what is on offer in our area.

“I will continue to push for the idea of a central arts hub for March and I am convinced the community centre is the ideal location, as it is already partly there.”

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