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The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

This Arts Council farce has lost the plot

By Norman Lebrecht / April 9, 2008

It is good to learn that the Arts Council a body never knowingly caught making a decision has called in Baroness McIntosh to investigate its recent funding fiasco in which 200 companies were stripped of funding and then, in some cases, reprieved. Lady Mac will hear complaints of injustice from the likes of the London Mozart Players and, if she finds that certain grants should be restored, the Council can then claim, as usual, that it was not their call.

The hands-off farce reminds me of the early 1990s when the Council decided to cut two symphony orchestras in London but declined to say which. An independent panel was set up under Lord Justice Hoffman. Its recommendations were delivered. Then legal threats landed from rich orchestral backers and everything was left as it was before.

The faffing-around that goes on at the Arts Council is argument enough for its abolition. Defenders claim that it has unique expertise in the nitty-gritty of arts administration. But a new director of culture has just been appointed at the DCMS. He is Mick Elliott, outgoing chief executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which he turned around in seven years from the point of near-closure to national respect. Elliott knows the facts on the ground better than any Council clerk. The case for retaining an Arts Council grows weaker by the week.

To be notified of the next Lebrecht article, please email mikevincent at scena dot org

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]



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