Arts chief's gaffe upsets orchestra

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THE CHAIRMAN of the Arts Council, Gerry Robinson, is under fire after an embarrassing blunder in a major speech. Mr Robinson, also the chairman of Granada PLC, was yesterday labelled "foolish and ignorant" by a leading figure in the arts.

In the annual Arts Council lecture last week, Mr Robinson gave his high- profile audience at the Royal Society of Arts a slide show of the Los Angeles Philharmonic doing community education work. He then demanded of arts leaders in the audience they learn from this and follow the US example.

But The Independent has discovered the LA Philharmonic based its project on one pioneered by a British orchestra that plays a few hundred yards from where the speech was made. So keen were they in Los Angeles to learn from the British example they twice flew out the highly respected artistic director of the London Sinfonietta, Gillian Moore.

Ms Moore said yesterday: "I would have been in tears if I had been in the audience for Gerry Robinson's lecture. I couldn't believe someone could be so ignorant. He couldn't have picked an example which was going to make him look more foolish.

"I was brought out twice by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at considerable expense, and they also paid consultation fees to the South Bank Centre. They told me they wanted the British system. We told them about (our) more in-depth relationship with teachers and schools. We trained their players in practical workshops. We set up a project with British composer Harrison Birtwistle and I gave seminars to musicians and teachers in Los Angeles.

"Gerry Robinson shows a stunning lack of information for someone who is supposed to be speaking for the arts."

Mr Robinson had praised the LA Philharmonic for playing in poor parts of the city and "transforming the landscape".

Phil Murphy, the director of the Arts Council, said: "People are being too precious if they interpret this as a snub."