Letter: Opera dilemma

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The Independent Culture
Opera dilemma

Sir: How right Hugh Kerr MEP is about the role of music in European culture and economy (letter, 13 October). Music is a superb training for children, teaching physical discipline and co-ordination, and mental concentration. Fortunately the British government has now started to repair some of the ruin inflicted by the Conservatives on local authority and school music teaching. To sustain and inspire this effort we need the example of the great musical institutions - the international orchestras and opera houses, and the educational programmes which they themselves also run.

Alas, opposite Mr Kerr's letter is another of your oh-too-easy leaders about the Royal Opera House ("Don't be afraid to take on the arts"), full of sloppy thinking and current cliches about elitism and privatisation. You say that Ian Albery should fill the programming gap he now has at Sadler's Wells with "populism and sponsorship". What does "populism" mean? Pop concerts? If so, say so, and let readers draw their conclusions about The Independent's cultural ambitions. I am sure that Mr Albery would welcome any amount of sponsorship, but unfortunately he is still several millions short of the target for partnership funding needed by the Sadler's Wells development in the first place. It isn't so easy.

You want the Government to take over the Royal Opera House. That would immediately cut off all the private revenue funding which the ROH raises (up to pounds 7m in some recent years), for why on earth should anyone give to the Government? What sort of basis would that then create for the privatisation which you advocate?

MICHAEL JOHNSON

London N6

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