LETTER:Lottery awards unite the arts

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The Independent Online
From Sir Simon Rattle

Sir: In expressing some of the delight and gratitude that we at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra feel after our recent lottery award, I should like to attempt to put this much-needed support in context.

Our pounds 3.7m enables us to refurbish a building that not only gives our musicians and management a home together for the first time in our existence, but also gives us the space and capability for all kinds of different projects within the community. The time has long since passed when orchestras, theatres and, dare I say, opera companies have been institutions devoted to performance.

For years now we have been involved in spreading the word that the arts can enrich everybody's life, regardless of age, race or wealth. At this confusing and incoherent moment in history, the possibility of understanding and self-expression offered by the arts is not a luxury but a necessity.

I cannot stress too strongly how the lottery awards are having the effect of bringing together different strands of our society. At a time when other arts funding is under threat, it is investing in areas that were in danger of collapse. For instance, where once the motor works or coal mine sustained our unique tradition of brass band music, now the lottery is injecting funds for new instruments.

I have been impressed by the range of the awards, right across the spectrum, making a nonsense of accusations of "elitism". Indeed, all the arts in this country are a continuum, supporting and cross-fertilising each other.

The lottery funds are helping to sustain one of our major, and rare, success stories. In investing in our ideas and imagination the National Lottery is giving the confidence for the future growth and vitality of our country.

Yours faithfully,

Simon Rattle

Music Director

City of Birmingham Symphony



25 July