Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams and others to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
[Saturday January 21, 1956]


The Arts Council's decision to close all its regional offices from March 31, 1956, is one which we deplore. Although re-organizarion is put forward as a continuation of existing policy there is already evidence to show that the previous reduction of regional offices has had a stultifying effect. It is our belief that nothing can replace the valuable work done by those regional officers, who, through personal contact and intimate knowledge of local conditions, have done so much to stimulate arts in the provinces. To give the provincial public the close encouragement it needs to surmount difficulties and limitations, someone who knows, from daily experience, what these are and who is able to discover and help local enthusiasm and enterprise is essential. A central control, we fear, will have the same effect as an absentee landlord.
If the Arts Council becomes centralized its work cannot but be superficial. Economy is the reason given for this change, but we believe that, if the will were there, economies could be made in other directions less damaging to the country's cultural life.
Yours faithfully,
John Betjeman, Nevill Coghill, C. Day Lewis, Gerald Finzi, Ralph Vaughan Williams

General notes: 

Printed in The Times, no. 53434, Saturday January 21, 1956, p. 7, headed "Arts Council".

The Times (53434), Saturday January 21, 1956, p.7.