Arts Council 'will not bow to nostalgia'

THE ARTS Council yesterday emphasised its determination to cut grants to two symphony orchestras and up to 10 theatres, saying it would not wallow in nostalgia for famous names, writes David Lister.

As part of an artistic review, the council is to stop funding two London orchestras and 10 theatres, believed to include major regional venues in Plymouth and Coventry, and the country's oldest operating theatre, the Bristol Old Vic.

Speaking at a lunch with journalists yesterday, Anthony Everett, the council's secretary general, would not confirm that the Bristol Old Vic was on the list, but said: 'I'm not sure that nostalgia is altogether appropriate in planning for the future. I think that society is soaked in nostalgia.'

The pounds 1.4m cut in the drama budget would mean more money for contemporary dance, where there was a growing audience. He also revealed that many members of the 16-strong drama advisory panel which drew up the list of theatres had not attended the two relevant meetings. They would meet again to discuss the list but could not change the council's policy to cut pounds 1.4m. The council yesterday gave a scathing response to the Price Waterhouse report on its future, commissioned by the Government at a cost of pounds 60,000. The report, which suggested cuts in staffing, 'strayed outside its brief', the council said, in suggesting a financial ceiling on arts development and got some of its figures wrong because it did not institute a 'fact check'. It said the council spent 10p in every pound that goes to the arts on administration, whereas the correct figure was 4.5p.

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