Letter: Disharmony

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The Independent Culture
Sir: To suggest, as the London Sinfonietta's Gillian Moore does, that Arts Council chairman Gerry Robinson committed "an embarrassing blunder" in his Royal Society of Arts lecture last week is far wide of the mark ("Arts chief's gaffe upsets orchestra", 20 October).

Mr Robinson was not only aware that the outreach programmes being pursued in the United States are inspired by practice in Britain; he said specifically in his speech that "our orchestras in Britain have led the way in taking their work into the community and given a lead to the United States". He also praised "excellent, ground-breaking work being carried out" by a large number of British orchestras.

In our discussions with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's education director, Sue Knussen, she stressed her debt to "the English experience" - so Mr Robinson was extremely well briefed about the situation. His reference to the LA Philharmonic, an orchestra which has won glowing plaudits in the pages of your newspaper, was to demonstrate a point about the scale of the challenge we in the arts face as we try to reach new audiences. In LA, the ethnic mix of 13 million people speaking more than 40 languages presents a particularly difficult test for an orchestra.

I would ask Ms Moore to read Mr Robinson's speech in detail rather than react with hyper-sensitivity towards anyone who dares look beyond Britain for cultural references.



Arts Council of England

London SW1