Letters:Papering over empty seats

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Sir: "Papering" is a time-honoured method of improving a poorly booked house in both the commercial and subsidised arts ("Orchestras owe it all to hospital chef", 22 October). Its purpose is not so much to save distinguished performers from embarrassment - although that may be a happy by-product - as to help get word-of-mouth publicity going to boost attendance at subsequent performances.

Even more so, it is to help create a positive atmosphere; theatre and concerts in particular are interactive events. The fuller the house, the better players and audiences alike feel, and the better the experience is of all involved - not least those who have paid for their tickets.

David Lister seems faintly indignant that the London orchestras use a hospital employee to distribute spare tickets. Again, this is a time-honoured practice. Hospital doctors and nurses are the traditional beneficiaries of "papering" - and why shouldn't they be?

BARRY SHEPPARD

Penryn, Cornwall

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