Live art needs cash
Sir: The concern of Gerry Robinson, the Arts Council chairman, with education and new audiences ("Arts chief's gaffe upsets orchestra", 20 October) should not be allowed to divert attention from the disastrous change in the ecology of the live performing arts over the last three decades, about which he demonstrates slight concern.
The only way to preserve orchestras, sustain concert schedules, recreate repertory theatre companies and foster opera on a wider scale is to rebuild the general audience's habit of purchasing reasonably priced tickets and giving time and attention to the experience of live performances. Very often, we must face it, these are less convenient and more demanding than heavily promoted and cheaper experiences (video, CD etc) which can be switched on and off when you want.
Moreover, since live performances are more costly than any other form of cultural experience, they need specially arranged economic conditions. They need a huge increase in funding.
What finally wins children and students over to opera or concert music is to experience the real thing. But how many students can afford to go to English Touring Opera with seat prices between pounds 10 to pounds 25.
Only stable institutions can build regular audiences and foster relationships with supporters and enthusiasts that will seed the audiences of the future. Yet most of our live performance institutions are enduring a fierce campaign of criticism and disparagement. No wonder the future for the performing arts is bleak.
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