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Lottery act likely to endfunding of major projects

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New lottery rules will put the squeeze on money for 'bricks and buildings' and may spell the end of funding for major design projects like the South Bank Centre.

Just how much architecture stands to lose is still to be worked out, but the National Lottery Act, which received royal assent last week, aims to channel money towards people and activities rather than design.

One of the biggest changes is the creation of a 'sixth good cause': health, education and the environment. A New Opportunities Fund will pump cash into libraries, healthy-living centres and support for childcare and teachers. The culture department said this might include small-scale architecture projects, such as converting barns into drop-in centres, or research into solar panels. Deprived areas will be targeted. But the days of massive funding for one-off projects are probably over, it said.

'It is not seen as the end of the road for building and design,' said a spokeswoman. 'But you are less likely to see mammoth projects taking vast amounts of money or a huge range of schemes that are predominantly all building work. They want things to put in the buildings.'

The sixth good cause will draw £1 billion of cash away from the other causes, which together have raised £5.2 billion in total so far. The total is expected to hit £10 billion by the end of Camelot's licence period in late 2001.

The Act has created a five-strong National Lottery Commission appointed by culture secretary Chris Smith to choose an operator and regulate the lottery. The commission and oflot, the Office of the National Lottery, can fine holders of National Lottery licences for breaching licence rules. The Act also ushers in the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to promote talent.

Meanwhile, the Arts Council may clamp a tight £60 million limit on new lottery projects in London over the next eight years. 'We are discussing this as part of strategic long-term investment plans,' said a spokeswoman. 'We are asking regional arts boards to prioritise within that, but no decisions have been made on what those budgets will be and how they will be allocated.' Details are expected later this month.

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