However, Bryan Magee stepped down in protest at government cuts to the arts - unlike the composer Priti Paintal and the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, his two colleagues on the panel, and Ken Baird, the council's music director, who each resigned over the attempts to reform the funding of London's orchestras.
Mr Magee - a visiting scholar in philosophy at Wolfson College, Oxford - was appointed to the Arts Council in February 1993 by the Secretary of State for National Heritage. In a letter to Peter Brooke, Mr Magee cited his reason for resigning as the Government's decision to cut its funding for the Arts Council by pounds 3.2m or 1.69 per cent. As the cut did not take inflation into account, the reduction was seen as pounds 7m in real terms. The grants of most of the Arts Council's clients have been frozen.
A council spokeswoman said: 'The Secretary of State for National Heritage gave us a pounds 3.2m cut, despite receiving a substantial increase for his department. This has upset the council greatly. Bryan Magee decided he couldn't work with that. As a philosopher, he went off and philosophised, wrestled with his conscience, and decided he couldn't carry on as chairman.'
Lord Palumbo, chairman of the Arts Council, said: 'Bryan Magee has brought great distinction to the Arts Council since his appointment and . . . whilst he will be a loss to the membership, I fully understand his reasons for wishing to resign.'
The Royal Shakespeare Company yesterday secured a three-year sponsorship worth pounds 3.3m with the food and drinks company Allied-Lyons. A week ago Royal Insurance had ended its six-year sponsorship, with the RSC facing a deficit of more than pounds 2m.
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