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Bethnal Green MP criticises George Galloway's commitment to the arts amid fears over funding

PUBLISHED: 18:00 04 October 2010 | UPDATED: 12:37 05 October 2010

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali

Olivia Harris, oliviaharris@mac.com 07881 810 878

MP Rushanara Ali concerned about potential funding cuts to the arts in Tower Hamlets

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, today spoke of her fears for Tower Hamlets arts groups ahead of government spending cuts and also criticized former MP George Galloway for failing to champion them.

The MP, speaking at a meeting at the Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green Road, said Tower Hamlets council could struggle to fund voluntary and arts-based organisations if reports the government is considering 25% cuts to the arts are born out in its comprehensive spending review later this month.

Ms Ali said: “The council funds a lot of arts groups and they stand to lose because of these cuts as the council is going to have to find areas to make savings.

“Then you’ve got the spending review which by all accounts isn’t going to be good news at all.

“So the pressure will be on even further in terms of resources.”

Ms Ali was joined by representatives of 25 groups who regularly receive funding from Arts Council England, the national development agency for the arts.

They included the Half-Moon Young People’s Theatre in Limehouse, Four Corners Film in Bow and Cardboard Citizens, which produces plays performed by homeless people, in Shoreditch.

Speaking of the MP she replaced, Ms Ali said: “I think it’s really important that you have leadership and we’ve missed that over the last five years.

“How many times did you hear George Galloway talk about the arts and the creative industries in Tower Hamlets and what they contribute? Hardly ever.

“I’ll be working with Jim Fitzpatrick [MP for Poplar and Limehouse], with councillor Denise Jones [lead member for culture at Tower Hamlets council] and others in the run-up to the Olympics to highlight what we’ve got here.”

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