Letter: A French lesson in heritage funding

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Sir: Stephen Dorrell, the Heritage Secretary, in a briefing before last Friday's keynote speech in Nottingham ('Dorrell sees tourism as source of arts funding', leading article, 7 October), asked why British people 'go for exciting weekends in Paris' rather than tourists coming here.

Surely France attracts tourists because it has sufficient state funding to embark on important heritage projects of great international interest.

Take, for example, the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, recently converted from a railway station into an art gallery at the government's expense.

This is in stark contrast to Mr Dorrell's policy for Britain to be dependent on using the power of the market to get more money into heritage, and his claim at the conference that his department is 'not a money fountain'.

What is also disturbing is that the expertise in our museums appears to be in danger of diminishing since the Government's policy is to offer curators only two- year contracts; a number in the profession may well decide to seek positions in the United States, which offers them greater security.

This would leave our institutions in the hands of managers and marketing men, but perhaps that is the hidden agenda.

Yours faithfully,


London, W1

10 October