Letter: The price of art

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The Independent Culture
Sir: David Lister asserts that 12 of the "trendiest art galleries in the country" are "in revolt" ("Art galleries say lack of funding may lead to cuts", 9 December).

Whether or not "trendy" is the appropriate epithet, I have great respect for the achievement of the Whitechapel, the Arnolfini, the Serpentine and other galleries you mention. There is, however, an element of seasonality in this story. Arts Council of England allocations for 2000-01 and 2001- 02 are shortly to be announced.

It is worth remembering that in the Arts Council's allocations for this year, the Whitechapel received a 10 per cent increase in its funding, the Arnolfini a 13 per cent uplift and the Serpentine 24 per cent. This was made possible because of this Government's record increase in funding for the arts of pounds 125m over three years.

Funding for the Arts, however, needs to be a partnership. I deprecate the halving of grant to the Serpentine by Westminster City Council. More happily, other local authorities, such as Gateshead and Birmingham, are setting an admirable example of support for the arts in their communities.

Inevitably, given the brilliant successes of the contemporary arts in Britain and the ambitions of so many galleries, competition for funding from all sources is intense.

ALAN HOWARTH

Arts Minister

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

London SW1

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