Letter: Time for the Millennium

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am not surprised that the Millennium Exhibition is running into trouble ("An Exhibition of ourselves", 17 May). The problem is not the concept, but the decision of the Millennium Commission to base it around the theme of "time".

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a showcase for the best of British manufacturing and design. It had no theme as such except that it aimed to show the best of what Britain could produce. It made such a huge impact, partly because it was the first of its kind but also because of Joseph Paxton's pioneering Crystal Palace in which it was housed.

The Millennium Commission cannot expect British business simply to cough up vast sums of money for a vague concept. What is needed is not for British Telecom to be a corporate sponsor but that they should agree to have a BT pavilion demonstrating the best of British telecommunications and the economic and social benefits they will bring in the 21st century.

The Exhibition should be an opportunity for the best of British design, craftsmanship and the arts to be seen by a world audience. Companies should seize the chance to exhibit their products and their vision in a showcase that millions will visit and that will be reported across the world.

The Millennium Commission should drop the theme idea and raise funds by selling space for pavilions at the site; that way the nation will get an exhibition worthy of the Millennium and businesses a return for their investment.

NICHOLAS KENT

London, SE4

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