Letter: Hallmark of a civilised society

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The Independent Online
Hallmark of a

civilised society

Sir: Jonathan Glancey in his article on the London-based Royal Fine Art Commission ("The Byzantine oddity in stylish world of its own", 22 May) appears to suggest there may be someone, somewhere, who sees it as "a fascinating oddity, an exquisite and maverick survivor".

Far from being "one of the last surviving outposts of the Byzantine Empire" the Royal Fine Art Commission was modelled on the President's Commission of Fine Arts, based in Washington DC, which had been established 14 years earlier in 1910.

Other countries have their equivalents, not always "Beaux Arts", and seldom Royal, but essentially comparable in their objectives and methods in advising the relevant authorities. It is a hallmark of a civilised community which cares about the quality of its built environment.

Mr Glancey should note that the London-based Commission does not have "a brief to criticise new building schemes throughout Britain". Though the Commission for Scotland's Royal Warrant has similar terms of reference, it is a separate, independent body, and has developed different working methods.

It no more deserves the description "a curious anachronism" than does the London-based Commission.



Royal Fine Art

Commission for Scotland