Letter: Grey incompetence at the Arts Council

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Sir: Your call ('A chronicle of mismanagement', 11 December) for the prompt resignation of Lord Palumbo and the whole of the Arts Council he chairs is most apt. However, it should not stop at council members.

There are too many senior Arts Council staffers who have shown that they have only grey incompetence to offer, when exceptional talent, imagination and fire in the belly is what is needed. To attract the right people to these posts, it will be necessary to reverse the downgrading of both status and salary which took place under the chairmanship of Lord Rees-Mogg.

While justly criticising the Arts Council's recent antics, however, it is vital not to lose sight of the central problem. The best people in the world would find the equation with which the Arts Council has to grapple, namely insufficient funds for the justifiable demands of arts practitioners, an impossible one to solve to everybody's satisfaction.

What hope can we have with a government, so blind and so uncaring of the arts, which cuts pounds 3m or pounds 4m from the council's grant - a sum so minimal and paltry in terms of the national budget, yet so destructive in its effects on the arts - while apparently smiling approvingly on a personal remuneration in excess of pounds 60m to the chief of an insurance company?

Yours faithfully,

PETER MAIR

London, NW3

12 December

The writer was an Arts Council drama officer, 1970-1988.

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