Letter: Trustees failed Royal Academy

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is understandable that the Royal Academy's secretary, David Gordon, should seek to play down the magnitude of the institution's recently disclosed financial and managerial predicament. But David Lister's impression ("Why Monet was the root of art evil", 16 December) that help might be coming from the Academy's "multi-millionaire trustees" is surely misplaced: had such support been available, it would not have been necessary, in the first place, to take and use as revenue pounds 1m of trust funds earmarked for capital projects.

Even this, it seems, was insufficient to keep the Academy solvent while funding its present pounds 7m annual administration cost. It was only the simultaneous withholding of pounds 200,000 of pension fund payments that enabled the Academy to stay within its pounds 2.25m overdraft facility.

Perhaps the trustees will now dig into their own pockets. But, as things stand, it must be said that it seems an extraordinary cheek for them and the administrators to use the fact of the crisis they have presided over in secrecy as a justification for an increase in their own powers at the expense of those of the academicians. Quite correctly, the membership has now twice refused to cede authority to the secretary's proposed new governing body, which would be dominated by trustees and salaried administrators.

One would hope that - even if they make no noises of contrition - the secretary and trustees will now have the grace to allow the members themselves to decide, in the wake of the present administrative debacle, how, and by whom, their own house might best be put back in order.



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