Letter: Ethics of the Arts Council

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The Independent Online
Sir: If there is indeed a perception of "croneyism" in the Arts Council's cultural patronage, as David Lister suggests ("The fine art of networking", 19 July), then it is because such articles create the perception. The strength of the Arts Council's decision-making process is that it is based on peer-group assessment, and the council is fortunate to be able to call on the advice of leading arts practitioners, who give of their time for no material reward. Inevitably those practitioners are connected with leading arts organisations who may receive funding from the Arts Council or may be seeking lottery money.

The question of conflict of interest is met not "with blank looks" as David Lister writes, but by the operation of a strict ethical and procedural code, approved by the parliamentary ombudsman and even more rigorous than the code required by the Treasury.

MARY ALLEN

Secretary-General

The Arts Council of England

London SW1

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