Bradford is losing out on millions of pounds in arts funding because priority is going to bigger northern cities, new figures show.
Through one of its main funding pots, the Arts Council England has spent only £10.69 per person in Bradford over five years, while Leeds has had 11 times as much, at £110.92 per person.
The new figures have been revealed by Bradford Council, which has sent in evidence to a new Government inquiry looking at whether the Arts Council is distributing its funding fairly.
The inquiry is being carried out this month by the culture, media and sport select committee, which includes two of the district’s MPs, Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab, Bradford South) and Philip Davies (Con, Shipley).
The Arts Council has already faced criticism for overlooking northern cities in favour of the South-East, but the new figures also show disparity between northern cities themselves.
They look at the spending on the Art Council’s National Portfolio fund – long-term cash for larger arts organisations – from 2010 to 2015.
The Arts Council has eight ‘core cities’ outside London which get extra investment. In the North they are Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.
But the Council’s report to the inquiry says despite Bradford being one of the UK’s biggest cities, it gets “significantly less” than these core cities. It says: “On average the eight core cities receive more than seven times per head the amount given to Bradford.”
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the Council’s executive member for culture, called on the Arts Council to give more cash to grassroots organisations, “rather than it being sucked into the big institutions in the big cities”.
Coun Hinchcliffe said: “It’s great that they have got an inquiry and are putting a spotlight on this issue.
“It’s also great that we have got Gerry Sutcliffe and Philip Davies on there as well, two Bradford MPs. I’m hoping that with our support they will be able to make a positive case for Bradford nationally, and make sure we get our fair share of funding.”
Michelle Dickson, Arts Council director for the North, welcomed the inquiry, but questioned the usefulness of comparing different cities’ spending per person when developing arts funding policies.
She said: “An even spend per head of population with no centres of critical mass would not be a desirable outcome.
“Investment in core cities across the country means that we have concentrated our funding on urban centres to reach the largest numbers of audiences.”
She said Bradford had some great Arts Council-funded organisations, such as Theatre in the Mill, Mind the Gap and Kala Sangam, and local people also benefited from the significant investment made in Leeds-based organisations such as Leeds Museums, Opera North and Yorkshire Dance.