THE nation's arts agency is now ploughing more money into Bradford, after being accused of overlooking the district.

Arts Council England gave out £488,175 in grants across the district last year, a 58 per cent rise on the year before.

Bosses say they have seen applications from Bradford flood in and it is now funding a number of new projects, from plays to literature festivals.

It followed intensive lobbying by arts groups and Bradford Council, which argued that not only was the north of England getting less than its fair share of funding compared to the south, but that Bradford was being overlooked in favour of larger cities such as Leeds.

This culminated in Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chairman of the Arts Council England, visiting Bradford last spring to meet Council bosses and tour the district's cultural venues.

He argued that the Arts Council had been receiving far fewer grant bids from arts groups in Bradford than from those in Leeds, and urged more people to apply.

The Arts Council also hosted training sessions for groups wanting to bid for funds.

Helen Parrott, a senior manager at the Arts Council England, said: "We are delighted that Sir Peter Bazalgette’s visit to Bradford in March last year, at which he encouraged people to apply to our Grants for the Arts scheme, has led to a welcome increase in applications from the Bradford district.

"It is rewarding that our strong partnership with the local authority in Bradford has encouraged applications and the resulting successes.

"To give a flavour of some of the projects funded, a couple of examples include the launch event of the 2014 Bradford Literature Festival, a first for the district, and Javaad Alipoor’s play My Brother’s Country, which will be staged in late February at various venues across the north including at Theatre in the Mill which receives regular Arts Council funding."

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, executive member for culture at Bradford Council, said: "I am really pleased to see such a significant increase of funding coming into the district.

"It just shows that arts organisations in Bradford are producing real quality cultural experiences and attracting Arts Council funding as a result.

"There's lots more work to do - I still want to see Bradford achieve an even higher share of funding and will continue lobbying to achieve this."

Culture Squared, the organisation behind Bradford Literature Festival, was granted £15,000 for its first taster weekend last year.

Festival co-director Syima Aslam said it was hugely encouraging that more arts cash was now coming into Bradford.

She said: "It is a boost for Bradford. Obviously, Bradford has been overlooked in the past so it is a case of continuing this work so that Bradford can develop."