Arts: A week in the arts

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Indy Lifestyle Online
John Tusa, the increasingly combative head of the Barbican Centre, ended last year claiming that arts journalists were insufficiently supportive. "Whose side are you on?" he demanded. Well, that depends on how many tickets you want to give me for the Barbican concert by Sonny Rollins, John. Oops, I mean: "The side of objectivity and fair reporting."

Mr Tusa has begun this year spicing the combativeness with a touch of intrigue. Speaking on Radio 3's Music Matters programme, he said the real problem with arts reporting is that the journalists don't understand the complexities of the money side. As opposed, presumably, to those whizz- kid arts administrators who keep running up multi-million pound deficits.

He then hinted darkly that there is currently a financial scandal that has not been rumbled. All is well, though, I'm sure. Mr Tusa, as a former distinguished journalist and now one of the great and good in the arts, would never stand idly by if there were impropriety. He will reveal all, no doubt.

Until he does, I shall assume he is referring to the Millennium Dome costing pounds 750m, minus the cost of Mr Mandelson's entry ticket to Walt Disney World, so make that pounds 748m (allowing for his hotel bills). With the New Millennium Experience company visibly floundering on what to put in the Dome, this column will take a regular look at the arts companies and venues threatened with extinction for a fraction of the Dome money.

At present, we have theatres such as Greenwich and the Gate on the list. Next week, the Arts Council's annual grants (and consequent cuts) are announced and the list will grow considerably longer. Whose side are you on, Mr Mandelson?