So you've moved on from the Cambridge Footlights and a stint in Godspell to be secretary-general of the Arts Council. Congratulations, and good luck] You have obviously got courage. Your experience of the stage will have taught you that life is a chancy business, and the ups-and-downs of a career with the spotlight on you will be nothing new.

I think you will have a fair wind in your sails. The job-cutting at the Arts Council HQ has already been done - the last act of Palumbo and Everitt - and the time for navel-gazing is over. From your own experience you know about the added value that business sponsorship brings to the arts, and you will be glad that Allied-Lyons is backing the RSC, BT is sponsoring British orchestras, local authorities' spending on the arts is holding up well and Peter Brooke has found a little more money for you than seemed likely. For you, the way must be upwards.

I am told that you are a competent manager. Concentrate, first, on relations between the Arts Council and the regional arts boards. If you and they can work and plan harmoniously, using each other's strengths, you will create a redoubtable team.

Last weekend I visited the Tate of the West. It's a marvellous example (not, admittedly, your responsibility) of a beautiful little gallery that in its first year has brought new life and business and excitement to St Ives. There are endless possibilities for the arts to lead the way in the renaissance of old and interesting towns.

That leads me to your second challenge, which is to manage, successfully and creatively, the new money that from 1995 the Arts Council will receive from the National Lottery. Who knows whether that will be 75m a year or 150m? Either way, it will be a huge addition to your budget and will let you undertake new capital projects in a manner that has been impossible for years. The key must be to spread the money well but to exer- cise great discipline and originality in its spending.

Keynes, the founder of the Arts Council, was always a bit of a punter. Looking on from the Elysian Fields, he must be delighted that after 40 years of stalling by the Treasury, you and the National Heritage Memorial Fund will at long last be getting your hands on lottery money. Well handled, this will transform the situation.

I cannot finish without warning you about a couple of things to avoid. Don't, whatever you do, appoint any more sub-committees at the Arts Council; try to streamline the organisation. And, please, don't have another inquiry into the funding and status of the four big London orchestras - that way disaster lies.

You have a brave new boss in Grey Gowrie. He was the first to stand up to applaud Gawain at the Royal Opera House last week. Godspeed to you both in tilling the rich soil to which you have set your plough.

Break a leg]

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