Letter: Paying the piper

Letter: Paying the piper

Sir: Duncan Fraser over-reaches himself by claiming (letter, 21 May) that "nobody in the arts today would bemoan" the development in arts sponsorship that has led to the Jerwood Foundation buying itself an observer's seat on the Royal Court Theatre's board.

Many artists are as appalled as I am at this assault on a deeply respected theatre's independence and at the contractual obligation that the Jerwood and the Court will have to "mutually agree" plays to be sponsored. This sets a very bad precedent.

The Royal Court's board will find there is a long-term hidden price to pay. For example, independent-minded artistic directors will be wary of applying to run a theatre which has someone present at board meetings able to hold back much-needed money from plays of which he, or his unknown successors, might disapprove. What too has the Jerwood Foundation gained from its overweaning demands? The sign "The Jerwood Theatres" above the Royal Court's name on the front of the building will be a badge of shame. Artists will be averting their eyes in pained embarrassment as they pass by.

PHILIP HEDLEY

Artistic Director

Theatre Royal, Stratford East

London E15

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