Letter: Arts Council pays the piper but doesn't call the tune

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The Independent Online
IN 'The chaos imperative' (Review, 14 November), Sir Colin Davis raises the support the Arts Council gives to period instrument ensembles. Our recently published annual report shows expenditure in England for the 1992-93 year of more than pounds 9m on modern-instrument symphony and chamber orchestras, and of pounds 190,000 on period orchestras.

Much of the latter enabled artists such as Roger Norrington and John Eliot Gardiner to be heard with their ensembles outside London in the first national tour, which the Arts Council organised. This does not seem an excessive contribution from public funds to an approach to music-making that has attracted international acclaim, sold many compact discs, and, most important of all, attracted a new audience to serious music.

There is no truth in Sir Colin's suggestion, as reported by you, that the Arts Council is 'now directing who can play what repertory'. The majority of the pounds 9m supported performances of work written before 1900, including much from the classical and baroque periods.

Kenneth Baird

Music Director

Arts Council of Great Britain

London SW1