Gowrie bows out with plans for the lottery
The earl's last six months as Arts Council chairman will see some hard lobbying, he tells Stephen Fay
Sunday 05 October 1997
He plans to try to fill the gap left by next year's cut in the council's grant with National Lottery money: "It's not just for luvvies that we're asking for money - there has to be a stop to the perpetual erosion of income for the performing arts," he says.
Grey Gowrie believes that new legislation - to be introduced in November - will allow him to use lottery money to finance education and access programmes such as touring, for theatre, opera and ballet companies. This would save money to meet higher overheads for companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and English National Opera.
He will also lobby the Culture Department to put an end to museum charges. (He would charge only for special exhibitions.) Besides that, he will do what he can to save the Old Vic by helping the National Theatre raise the pounds 7m purchase price. "I'm very much in favour, in principle, of the NT's buying it."
Gowrie says he was surprised that people found the announcement of his departure next April so unexpected: "Perhaps that was naive of me." He denies suggestions from friends of his that he is going because he is unwell. "I do take a pill that has a slight effect on my centre of gravity. It means I don't like standing without some sort of support."
He says he always intended to leave a year before his five-year term expired in 1999 - before the "Millennium knees-up"; and he told the Culture minister, Chris Smith, so at the Edinburgh Festival, to give the minister until the New Year to think about the succession.
However, the Culture Department asked him to announce it early so that his successor can be appointed next month. He or she can then help select the Arts Council's next secretary-general. "But the Government have decided to Nolanise us, and it means the trawl for a successor takes longer," he says. The Culture minister is no longer free to appoint a crony with a minumum of fuss; the position must now be advertised, candidates head- hunted, credentials carefully scrutinised.
Gowrie would not have had to go so precipitately if Mary Allen, who was his secretary-general, had not accepted the job of director of the Royal Opera House - without advertisment, head-hunting or scrutiny. He is conscious that managerial turmoil at the ROH has brought the whole of the subsidised sector of the arts into public disrepute. He does not, however, single it out as a special case: for him, the crisis spreads across the board.
The problem is the concept of "conditionality". Lottery money cannot be spent to meet the cost of the day-to-day running of arts organisations. He believes changes in lottery legislation are required and proposes to lobby for new rules to allow the Arts Council to divert money into general budgets.
The chances of this have improved, he thinks, because the most costly items have already got big grants ("with the exception of the South Bank"). However, the topic that is likely to dominate Gowrie's last few months at the council is the ROH. An imperious board, an insecure management and a pile of publiic money for redevelopment have led to an all-out search for skeletons in the closet.
The council appears to have submitted a report to Chris Smith which reveals no skeletons, and says that the lottery money is being properly managed. But the unfolding saga of the opera house means that Gowrie's reputation as a chairman of the Arts Council may still depend on how it ends.
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Kanye West gives guest lecture at Oxford University: 'If I, Kanye West, can remove my ego, I think there's hope for everyone'
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides specialis...
£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A consultant is required to pro...
£12675 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...