Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
THOSE LIFETIME achievers are getting younger. There was a time when you had to have been performing in the Fifties, Sixties or the glam end of the Seventies. But I gather that the Eurythmics are to get the special award at next year's Brits. And if they seem a little recent to have notched up a lifetime's achievement, there is at least the consolation that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart will perform together in public for the first time in eight years at the ceremony. As an encouragement to Dave and Annie to stick it out this time, new figures on this year's earnings show the oldies wiping the floor with the younger upstarts. Top of the list are the Rolling Stones who earned $200m from their world tour, more than four times as much as U2 in second place. Can't think why Mick Jagger hasn't got a big grin all over his face.

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THE CULTURE Secretary, Chris Smith, and the Arts Council chairman, Gerry Robinson, have made much of lottery grants going to the north and the importance of the arts in the north. It seems that by north they meant north London. The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary both attended the opening of the new Sadler's Wells, along with the Arts Council chairman and secretary general. But the lottery-assisted reopening of the Manchester Royal Exchange theatre after the IRA bomb damage drew none of these luminaries. The Arts Council drama director, Anna Stapleton, and lottery arts director, Prue Skene, flew the flag. Mr Blair and Mr Smith should try Manchester. You turn left at Islington High Street and head north.

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ON THE subject of Sadler's Wells, it seems I am not alone in finding the seats uncomfortable. Mr Rufus Isaacs from Gerrards Cross, Bucks, has written in to say that only travelling economy on a jumbo jet equates. He adds: "The seats are far too narrow, the arm-rests inadequate, as is the legroom. I was constantly being kicked in the back by the person behind". But apart from that, Mr Isaacs, how did you enjoy the show?

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CRONYISM DOES have its drawbacks. After announcing the Arts Council grants on Thursday, thereby making sworn enemies of dozens of companies from the RSC downwards, the Council chairman, Gerry Robinson, muttered: "People say I got this job because I've been friendly to the Labour Party. If they reward their friends by asking them to sort out the Arts Council, they soon won't have any left".

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SIR DAVID Spedding, head of MI6, has invited Dame Judi Dench for Christmas lunch, so that M of the Bond films and her real-life counterpart, C, can swap thoughts. But they won't learn much. Dame Judi doesn't write her script, and Sir David will surely adopt a different persona for lunch with an actress than that familiar to his agents. But it's comforting to know that the head of MI6 is a groupie at heart.

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