Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
WHO SAID Chris Smith and his Culture Department hadn't mastered the art of spin? Mr Smith proved himself worthy of Shane Warne at his best this week as the BBC, ITV and a clutch of newspapers all reported that he had "announced" that children would be allowed in free to museums this Easter.

In fact, the "announcement" came in the Government's spending plans last November. And what the "announcement" has masked is the difficulties Mr Smith is having persuading the charging museums to switch to free admission for adults.

However, the clever chap "announced" his news via the political correspondents who had most of their attention on the war and the Irish peace talks. Well spun, sir.


ONE MUSEUM that is certain to have a good year, thanks more to a mixture of history and geography than to pricing policy, is the National Maritime Museum, situated on the spot where time, in its most British sense, began. Its director, Richard Ormond, is making the most of his institution's millennium associations. As the building includes the Greenwich Royal Observatory, he has approved the licensing of the museum's millennium logo to clients, including retailers of supermarket wines. One has even put down pounds 250,000 as an advance against sales. So get plastered with a clear conscience. It's all in the cause of museum funding.


WHO IS one of the most immediate beneficiaries of the Oscars? David Hare. His play Amy's View, about to open in New York, has taken more than $4m. The award for Judi Dench, who stars in the play, has made New Yorkers realise that they ought to see her. A spokesman for the play said: "I've never seen ticket sales quite like this. Before the Oscars, we were doing about $70,000 a day. Now, we are doing $100,000."