Reports this week have suggested a surprising surge of interest in classical music: apparently, recession-battered Brits are seeking a source of "tranquility". Artists have always pointed out the spiritual value of music, but it can take a world financial crisis to make the message hit home.
The violinist Tasmin Little has long held strong views on the benefits of the arts and the development of new audiences. Last year, she released a solo album, The Naked Violin, free on the internet. Now there's a follow-up CD, Partners in Time, and a lavish website offering free supporting material.
"I think some people are still cynical about how the arts can make such a difference to life," she says. "Because we don't visibly heal people as in a hospital, visibly educate them as in a school or feed or clothe them, it can be easy to dismiss the idea. But when we're talking about feeding people's souls, uplifting you in times of need, the arts are the most fantastic way to do that. We can feed ourselves, clothe ourselves, have a roof over our heads – but if there's no point to it all because people have lost the will to continue to live or fight for what they need, then where are we? What does it say about our society?
"In the UK we have an incredible history in the arts, but we shouldn't take it for granted, because it can be lost so quickly. For the arts to continue to be vibrant you have to support them, encourage them and go to performances, because if nobody goes to events, then they wither and die."
Ironic indeed that a downturn might also mean a turnaround.
'Partners in Time' is out now on Bis. www.partnersintime.eu