Letter: Arts cuts will impoverish our spiritual life

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Lister is right to call upon the Arts Council to think more clearly about the implications of its new funding choices (Report, 10 July) and we welcome the debate that will now take place with the drama advisory panel and the regional arts boards.

Here in Coventry we are both astounded and appalled to hear that a 35-year-old funding partnership may be ended. Of the Arts Council's priorities, the Belgrade Theatre is widely known and praised for its work in 'education and cultural diversity' and for its 'innovation' in these areas and on stage. In all our work, 'excellence' and 'access' are our paramount aims.

Moreover, the Belgrade is Coventry's only central arts facility at the heart of the city's plans for economic regeneration and in its support for all arts work in Coventry (to paraphrase Lord Palumbo), 'creates a climate in which inspi-

ration and creativity can flourish in Coventry'. The creative, social economic and educational contribution that the Belgrade makes to Coventry is repeated in every city served by a producing theatre.

This sort of funding choice is not acceptable and makes clear the real implication of the failure of central government to invest in the arts. The proposed pounds 5m reduction in funding to the Arts Council will begin the dismantling of one of the few areas of life in which Britain still leads the world and one that earns huge sums for the public purse. Perhaps more important than British prestige or wealth, however, is the quality of British cultural and spiritual life for ourselves, our children and future generations.

If the Belgrade loses its Arts Council funding, the people of this city will see how the Arts Council and the Government have treated them with contempt. Coventry may be in the front line, but everyone in public and private life throughout the country should now

say 'no' to reductions in arts funding and embrace investment in the creativity of our people, our greatest natural

resource.

Yours sincerely,

ROBERT HAMLIN

Director and Chief Executive

The Belgrade Theatre

Coventry

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