Ffion Jenkins to learn the art of dealing with Labour

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Ffion Jenkins, fiancee of William Hague, leader of the opposition, has been appointed to a key job in the arts, which will involve her liaising closely with government ministers.

Ms Jenkins has been appointed director of operations at Absa, the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts. The key aspect of the job will be to manage the operation and development of the Pairing Scheme, the Government's arts sponsorship incentive scheme which Absa manages on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Absa is the national independent association which promotes and encourages partnerships between the private sector and the arts. It works extensively with the UK's top businesses and arts organisations to develop arts sponsorship. Its patron is the Prince of Wales. But it also works closely with government, directing business sponsorship cash towards the arts, and Absa officials having regular talks with ministers and civil servants.

An Absa spokesman said: "Her own personal position has been considered, but neither we nor the Department of Culture, Media and Sport see any problem. We did inform the Department of her appointment, as is standard procedure. She will have some involvement with ministers, but most of her involvement will be with civil servants."

Ms Jenkins said: "Absa has an international reputation for promoting excellence in partnerships between businesses and the arts and I look forward to the challenge of making a positive contribution."

She was Mr Hague's private secretary at the Welsh Office and has had a strong interest in the arts, performing with the National Youth Choir and playing clarinet with the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

Colin Tweedy, Absa's director-general, said yesterday: "We are delighted that Ffion is joining Absa's team at this exciting period in our development. More than ever, arts sponsorship is being used as an essential part of business communications as well as a powerful medium for corporate community involvement. Ffion's wide experience and enthusiasm will be a tremendous asset as we promote business involvement with the arts to the new generation of business decision makers."

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