Arts 'can ease inner-city alienation'

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The Independent Online
PETER BROOKE, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, will signal a new approach to unemployment today when he tells a private gathering of arts, sport and television leaders that they must get more people involved in leisure pursuits to help deal with 'unemployment and alienation in our inner cities'.

He is expected to emphasise that widening access to these pursuits is part of the Government's drive towards a classless society. The meeting will include the Director-General of the BBC, the head of Channel 4, the directors of the Arts and Sports Councils, and heads of nearly all the national museums and heritage bodies.

A survey in the Independent on Sunday two weeks ago showed that the majority of people who go to theatre, opera and concerts are predominantly high earners and middle-aged. Mr Brooke believes that it is now imperative to draw together a national database of statistics for arts and sport showing who is and is not attending. But a departmental source said he would stop short of asking arts bodies and football clubs and the rest to pool their information of names and addresses of regular attenders.

Mr Brooke, who plans a series of regional conferences to decide how to broaden access, will tell his audience that involving more people in leisure pursuits will improve productivity and creativity at work, our sense of identity and national pride, and will help deal with 'the problems of unemployment and alienation in our inner cities', and contribute to 'the creation of a classless and tolerant society'.