Letter: Artful arguments

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The Independent Online
Artful arguments

Unfortunately, in his vigorous campaign to support Greenwich Theatre, Matthew Francis (letter, 2 February) has missed the main point of Trevor Phillips' article (24 January).

Far from telling arts practitioners not to bother to argue for increased funding, Trevor Phillips urged them to develop sharper arguments in support of public subsidy for the arts. The old ones are simply not working.

As far as Greenwich Theatre itself is concerned, the fact is that average paid attendance did not raise the box office above 28 per cent of financial capacity last year and that is not enough to sustain the business on present or even increased levels of public funding. Furthermore, this core and decreasing audience does not reflect the range and diversity of south- east London.

But just because this particular operation is not proving viable, it doesn't mean that Greenwich and south-east London should not have access to arts of the highest quality and London Arts Board will continue to work hard to that end. To suggest that the board is not committed to companies working with disadvantaged communities is nonsense. The board's policy this year has been to increase funding - around 60 uplifts in all - to theatres and arts organisations throughout London, including groups like Oval House in Lambeth and Heart 'n' Soul, the leading arts disability group, in Lewisham.

DAVID POWELL

Deputy Chairman

London Arts Board

London WC2

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