From Ms Jennifer Edwards Sir: "Why should football fans subsidise the theatres they never, or seldom, go to?" asks your leading article of 13 January. For the same reason that theatre and opera goers subsidise sports (mostly through the Sports Council, not to mention the share of the BBC licence fee which is channelled into sport). Because opera, the rest of the arts and sport are beneficial to (I would say essential to) our society. Without the relatively small amount of Government support, we would lose something that adds quality to our lives, contributes to our national identity and is a vital part of our economy.

"The market" alone cannot support world-class opera in a national opera house. Like other arts institutions, the Royal Opera House over recent years has faced declining subsidy and demands to produce more "earned income".

Comparable opera houses in other European cities enjoy much greater public subsidy and can keep their prices down as a result. The Berlin Opera House receives 87 per cent of its income from public funding, compared to under a third at Covent Garden. It is not surprising that the average ticket price in London is three times higher.

Until arts funding is restored to the level of the early 1990s, before deep cuts were inflicted, then we will continue to see major arts organisations compromising between public access and financial viability. The rest of us will just have to be thankful that we get to hear broadcast performances in return for the few pence that we contribute through our taxes.

Yours faithfully, JENNIFER EDWARDS Director National Campaign for the Arts London, SW1

13 January