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Reader feedback: Only half understood

Re: Gordian knot untangled?, Volume 11, Number 30, August 8 - 14, 2005

[Culture Minister] Tóth's populist talk about "increasing involvement in culture" shows that he has only grasped half his job. Specifically he sees it only in terms of providing entertainment to the public and not in terms of developing artists.

Suppose Slovakia decided to appoint a sports minister. Would it be better for him or her to arrange free exhibition matches of football, tennis, etcetera, to entertain the public, or to train athletes and players to participate in international competitions and raise the image of Slovakia?

Although the latter might sound elitist it is probably the better long-term investment. It is the same in the arts. Maybe the government will sponsor the publication of a book that only a 100 people read, but if 50 of those people are inspired by it to go out and write their own book, it has done more for culture than if they sponsor a best seller to compete with Dan Browne [author of The Da Vinci Code].

Young musicians don't need to spend their time in the national orchestra knocking out popular favourites for Austrian coach parties. They need to perform challenging, modern works so that they can win respect at an international level. While I am glad if he can improve the creaking bureaucracy and introversion of the institutions, Minister Tóth would do better to advertise the arts and explain what they are to people, and to persuade Slovak Television [public broadcaster] to help in this rather than to lecture the artists on how to do their job.

Wigan, UK

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