A WORCESTER peer has hit out over a lack of funding for the arts - saying venues like the Swan Theatre are suffering due to London-centric unfairness.

Lord Richard Faulkner of Worcester says the finances of some of the city's most important performance sites are "on a knife-edge" due to poor financial support.

The peer says a "disproportionate amount" of money towards the arts is being sunk into the capital, leaving areas like Worcester badly under-funded.

Lord Faulkner has intervened in a House of Lords debate on the issue, bringing Worcester's position to national attention.

He is the chairman of Worcester Live, the charitable trust which runs both the Swan Theatre and Huntington Hall.

"Worcester Live exists for three reasons," he said.

"First, it receives generous core funding support from Worcester City Council which per-head of population, probably contributes more to the arts than any other district council.

"Secondly, it has a small number of wonderful individual benefactors, trusts and patrons.

"Thirdly, its productions and events are well-supported by local residents.

"However Worcester Live gets not a penny from the Arts Council, and that means that its finances are constantly on a knife-edge.

Worcester News:

"A disproportionate amount of arts money goes to London, and a huge percentage of it goes to classical music in one form or another, orchestras, opera and ballet, and to flagship venues."

During the debate he told peers he was "far from convinced" the balance was right, calling for more money to be spent on "non-elitist organisations" outside the south-east.

He also said Worcester Live runs the city's "only theatre, its only concert hall", and told them major heritage assets like Tudor House "would not exist" as a history museum were it not for volunteers.

"Without volunteers, Tudor House and countless other local history museums would not exist - they deserve better recognition from all of us," he said.

More than £56 million of arts funding has been cut by local authorities nationwide over the last eight years, with many of them blaming severe Government grant reductions.

Arts Council England says it has struggled to fill the gap, but still spends around 12 times the amount of money per-head in London compared to the rest of the UK.

The Lords debate will be referred to ministers in the Commons for a response.