Letter: Sponsorship for the rich: what a way to fund the arts

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The Independent Online
THE SURVEY conducted by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts ('Arts-goers are mainly old and rich', 6 June) demonstrates what we all suspected: that business sponsorship helps provide arts for the rich while the majority of the population are left out in the cultural cold.

The related obscenity is that provision of the arts for young people and for community audiences, never adequately funded by central or local government, is being devastated. To give an example, Theatre-in-Education (TIE) companies who work with young people of all economic conditions, ethnic backgrounds and abilities, are closing or cutting back all over England and Wales. Next year TIE will virtually disappear. This is due, in the main, to government capping of local authority grants and to the devolution of education authorities' budgets to the schools. pounds 1m has been lost to TIE companies this year - a drop in the ocean compared with the annual profits of the government's spending on weapons of destruction, or maintaining the Royal Yacht.

Is it not time to change these anti-social cultural values? We could make a start by properly funding the arts and making cultural provision for the majority of the population a normal part of government expenditure.

Geoff Gillham

Standing Conference of Young People's Theatre