Letter: Arts for the people

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The Independent Online
Sir: If David Lister ("Council goes in search of a future role", 3 October) is saying that it is not imperative that arts councils should persist in exactly their present form, many of us would agree. Nothing is for ever. The Arts Council of Wales will welcome debate, whether now or in the future Welsh Assembly.

The mission of an arts council is much wider than he implies. Bringing art to the people of Wales is exactly what the Council seeks to do. Small towns near and far from Cardiff are hungry for good arts provision. It is not all about flagship companies.

Chris Smith has rightly said that "things of quality have to be accessible to all". Arts councils have to help ensure that what is accessible is of high quality. This is not done by "a civil servant on a wet Wednesday", but very largely by members of Council and panels who are artists and experts in their own right and meticulous in withdrawing from discussions when their own interests are involved.

We should not rush to dispense with this network of high quality, unpaid advice. Let us, too, continue to protect our writers, painters, composers from having their creative agendas determined for them by political processes which will not always benign. Had the Royal Academy been funded direct by a government department, it would have been surprising if in recent weeks ministers had not felt obliged to intervene. .

Before rushing to judgement on the arts councils, we would do well to see what alternatives may be on offer.



Arts Council of Wales