CULTURE secretary Maria Miller said it was 'vital' that the Government continued to support creative industries in the UK during a visit to Stroud Valleys Artspace last Tuesday, February 19.

The Conservative politician was given a tour of SVA by its directors, Jo Leahy and Neil Walker, and told how a recent grant of £510,000 from the Arts Council would help transform the premises.

Thanks to the funds, raised via the National Lottery, and an award of £50,000 from the Cheltenham-based Summerfield Charitable Trust, SVA's John Street home will benefit from a new exhibition space, refurbished studios and a redesigned courtyard.

Mrs Miller was shown designs and a model of the plans, produced by the internationally renowned Tony Fretton Architects, whose previous work includes the Camden Arts Centre and the British embassy in Warsaw.

She also spoke to artists and textile designers and wished her hosts every success with the next phase of the development, which is due to start in July and be completed by September.

Speaking to the SNJ, she said: "I think this artist-led project is clearly already providing great support for local artists and the next stage of the project will provide not only a shop window but also great opportunities for people who are already making use of the centre.

"It is vital that we support creative industries and the arts sector in Britain. Artist-led projects like this one play an important part in supporting a vibrant creative industry sector in this country."

MP Neil Carmichael, who joined Mrs Miller on the visit last Tuesday, February 19, said Stroud's reputation for the arts would be strengthened by the redevelopment.

SVA co-director Neil Walker said he was 'impressed' that a member of the Government had taken the time to visit.

Textile designer Liz Lippiatt, who spoke to Mrs Millar, said: "She seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing. British designers are good for the economy. It is a great export business."