Letter: Accent on culture and tradition after Windsor fire

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Sir: Now that much of the dust has settled after the wretched fires at Windsor Castle, at Hampton Court, and to some extent at the Hofburg in Vienna, one observation may be worthy of reflection.

If we accept that the press is mostly representative of public opinion, it is surely remarkable that the worry expressed over the possible damage to works of art was so intense. The ensuing debate also surely demonstrates that the British public is extremely interested in and proud of our public and private collections. It is not merely mention of so-called 'priceless' treasures that catches our attention: there is a deep cultural love of these things, and this seems to be spread right across the social spectrum.

The present, and indeed past, political interest in the arts is highly questionable. With the ending of the Cold War we are entering a new era that is not devoid of danger, but is a time when politicians could and should rethink the provision of funds for the arts. I am suggesting the sort of sums more usually associated with industry or defence.

When travelling abroad it is significant to see that the accent on culture generally is greater than in this country. Paris is an obvious example. I do not believe that the French nation is any more cultured than our great nation, only that historically its politicians are.

Yours faithfully,



Art Trade Liaison Committee

London, SW7

3 December