LETTER: Lottery link

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From Dr Neil Chalmers

Sir: Lord Gowrie is right to urge the Prime Minister to keep his promise that National Lottery funding will not replace existing government spending (Another View, 11 October). Unfortunately, it is all too likely that this promise will not be kept. Virginia Bottomley may well be opposed to William Waldegrave's idea of lottery-funded endowments for the arts, but she is asking chairmen and directors of national museums and galleries funded by the Department of National Heritage to plan for a 3 per cent cut in grant-in-aid funding in 1997-98.

There has also been a decline in real terms in the grant-in-aid that the Natural History Museum, among others, has experienced in recent years, and a more immediate cut in the coming financial year is threatened. Given that museums and galleries are vital to one of the few growth areas of Britain, namely leisure and tourism, this policy goes directly against the Government's intention to increase wealth generation and improve the quality of life.

The link between the arrival of the lottery and the decline in government funding seems to me to be inescapable. The lottery is being used to replace government funding by the back door.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Chalmers

Director

Natural History Museum

London, SW7

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