Letter: Save the arts

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The Independent Online
Letter: Save the arts

OXFAM'S protest about tax deductions for arts projects (letter, 13 February) refers to current patterns of charitable giving. The present balance of giving to the top 500 voluntary charities is dramatically weighted against arts, recreation, youth and education. Together their annual revenue amounts to pounds 54m - just 3 per cent of the total of pounds 1.76bn. International aid receives pounds 378m and animal protection pounds 133m.

To redress this balance Lord Birkett and myself, and many others, lobbied for several years for a national arts lottery. Its aim was to bring to the UK the enhanced emotional life which the practice of the arts can help to stimulate. In addition we sought a balanced physical life, with enough recreation to keep people healthy, and thus reduce the state's huge health bill.

To see pounds 133m going to animal protection but so little to the shaping of balanced lives here is to understand why our crime rate is so high. Young people without a habitual pattern of filling their spare time with useful hobbies, artistic expression and sport can fall into drink, drugs and criminality.

Now is the time to redress this balance, which is one reason for the formation of our charity. Oxfam's work is invaluable, but it needs to be complemented by the protection of the quality of living habits for all here and now, which can transform the social habits of the whole country.

DENIS VAUGHAN

Executive Director

Council for the Advancement of the Arts, Recreation and Education

London WC2

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