Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
SIR CAMERON Mackintosh has been obsessed with getting the musical Martin Guerre right for rather a long time. Now that the show has finally pleased the critics in its West Yorkshire Playhouse incarnation, the impresario can look to producing a new musical. Sir Cameron, at Wednesday's party for the transfer of Oklahoma! to the Lyceum, said he had finally found his next show. It will be a musical of John Updike's novel The Witches of Eastwick, with lyrics by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe, who were responsible for The Fix at the Donmar Warehouse. And it could open in London by the end of this year. Neither director nor cast has yet been chosen. Perhaps Sir Cameron should go for Sir Cliff Richard (right). He looked in need of cheering up at that same Oklahoma! party when a journalist asked him whether he had seen the musical when it first opened. Sir Cliff spluttered into his mineral water as he pointed out that Oklahoma! opened in 1943, when he was three years old.

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WRITING ABOUT the Barbican Centre's rejected lottery application earlier this week, I asked the Arts Council why it had been turned down. I was told: "It is our policy never to reveal our reasons for rejecting an application." Why not, for goodness' sake? Why should members of the public not be told why their local arts venue or a national arts venue is refused lottery money? For years ministers have been telling the Arts Council to be more accountable, with little effect. The Culture Secretary Chris Smith belongs to a party committed to open government. He could prove it by making this publicly funded quango take the public into its confidence.

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MARCO GOLDSCHMIED, the managing director of the Richard Rogers partnership, is one of the front-runners for the presidency of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In his manifesto he says he wants the country's planning laws changed so that architects are always consulted by local planning committees. It is a manifesto commitment he can make with some confidence. By lucky coincidence, Lord Rogers has been bending the ear of the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on exactly this matter, accompanying him on a trip to Holland recently to show him how the system works there.

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