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Andrew Lloyd Webber is right to condemn charging for music GCSE (your views, January 18)

Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "The arts have never been as vital as they are today". Photo: Nathan Johnson Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "The arts have never been as vital as they are today". Photo: Nathan Johnson
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Andrew Lloyd Webber spoke wisdom in his condemnation of provision of the arts in schools (News, January 11). Charging for music tuition outside school hours is deplorable and one wonders whether the same philosophy applies to extracurricula sports training. Much emphasis is given to school team sports but any benefits cease when participants reach their 30s and 40s and can no longer take an active part. Musicians can usually play until they drop and in like manner people can act, sing, paint, craft in wood and metal and so forth.

In the 1970s and 1980s, I taught in a Leicestershire Middle School with 800 pupils. There was an orchestra of 50 and I ran the military band of 60. The band entertained organisations dealing with the disadvantaged twice a term to the benefit of players and audiences. There was a musical ethos in the school. All were entitled to free peripatetic tuition on a weekly basis and this led to many playing in the county bands and orchestras from which some entered the professional world of music. Now there are many schools that do not have ensemble music but there is sport.

Not every pupil is going to shine in academia and train at university for science or engineering related subjects. Everyone has latent talents and these should be developed for free as part of an all-round education. Music is an important part of life and continues to give me, now in my 80s, a huge amount of enjoyment.

Ted Bottle
Coalville, Leicestershire

Logo required more eyes on it

I write in response to Tabard’s column reflecting the difference of opinion among Equity members regarding the union’s changed logo (January 11).

I find the column everything it is supposed to be: provocative and in some areas unacceptably rude. However, I use this chance to thank Tabard for raising the profile of this subject.

Diary: Petition says no go to new Equity logo

A large number of members have expressed their dislike and concern about the logo, including the view that the union will be regarded in an unfavourable light because the logo features masks that have no eyes. Facial expression is an integral part of a performer’s skill set and being portrayed as blind is demeaning.

The consultation on the change among the members, and not all of the members, lasted only 18 days. If you compare this to four months plus, which is the regulation when members vote on a new ruling body, it makes a nonsense of our democracy. Surely a petition, and an unofficial campaign run by a branch at its own expense, should indicate to Equity’s staff that this is more than a few voices raised in protest. It would seem the union has chosen to ignore the members’ opinions and gone ahead with the rebranding that represents us all.

Clifford Lee Evans
Equity, West of England variety branch treasurer

Failure a success

Lyn Gardner’s article on overcoming early failure (Long Read, January 11) was an excellent article and raises an important discussion. An experienced artistic director said to me: “Expect one in five projects to fail.” That figure has haunted me ever since because our entire arts education system is built on ‘success’. With austerity squeezing budgets tighter, there is pressure on responsible directors to run a ‘pre-mortem’ on every piece. It stifles creativity.

Rod Dixon
Artistic director, Red Ladder
via thestage.co.uk

Undue ovations?

Further to Mark Shenton’s article (‘Is the trend for standing ovations getting out of hand?’, January 11), I go to the theatre once or twice a month and often long to stand up at the end of an enjoyable play or musical. I haven’t noticed a growing trend for standing ovations.

Mark Shenton: Are standing ovations getting out of hand?

I don’t want to be the first person to stand, as I worry I’ll be stared at! I look around and if I see others standing, I will join in. My partner refuses to stand and thinks they are over the top.

I once took my mum, who is not a regular theatregoer, to the National Theatre. She loved the play so much she spontaneously leapt to her feet. She was the first to do so and many followed. She did not want attention, but it was a powerful way for her to show the actors how much joy they had given her. I try to emulate her, but I’m too self-conscious.

Vince Deehan
via thestage.co.uk

Quotes of the week

James Graham. Photo: Richard Davenport
James Graham. Photo: Richard Davenport

“Josie Rourke and Kate Pakenham (Donmar Warehouse) took risks, championed artists, fought for new audiences, shattered gender ceilings, renovated old spaces, built new ones and defended work. Theatre is better for what they sought to do and have done.”
Playwright James Graham (Twitter)

“It [Starlight Express] was a little bit sexist when you look back at it – not just the fact that all of the engines were men, but the overall tone of the show. It’s been brought right up to date and now there are female engines as well.”
Choreographer Arlene Phillips (Evening Standard)

“Not to have been the back end of the pantomime horse, called Albert, at Glasgow Citizens. I should have been the front.”
Actor Ciaran Hinds, asked if he could go back and change one thing in his career (WhatsOnStage)

“A lot of it is my wishing to inspire other women that, if they are divorced or widowed or on their own for any reason, their choices are broader than what society would dictate, which would be an older man. In society, that is the norm. But, having done my procreation, I was looking for recreation. And I found it with younger men.”
Author Wendy Salisbury on new musical The Toyboy Diaries, based on her book of the same name (BBC online)

“I’ve always worked, and I measured my success by the fact that I could earn a living as an actor, which is all any actor wants. Then, suddenly, people knew who I was. It’s quite odd.”
Actor Toby Jones (Telegraph)

“We honestly don’t know if [Bob Dylan] has been over to see it. A lot of his team have been involved in producing the piece. He obviously knows it’s happening but has let the team here have full artistic control. He is a bit of an elusive character as everyone knows. If he has been already, I really wouldn’t be shocked in any way.”
Actor Sheila Atim on Girl from the North Country (Evening Standard)

“Ageing has been a bonus for me. As a young actress I never really felt quite right – I always went for character roles rather than the straight ingenue. But as I’ve got older, the parts have got better, though you never know when they’re going to dry up.”
Actor Samantha Spiro (Evening Standard)

What you said on Facebook…

About Ben Forster suffering an onstage accident in Elf…

Let’s not jump to conclusions before the Elf and Safety Executive has compiled its report.
Pete Frankish

About Andrew Lloyd Webber calling for arts subjects in schools to be taught free of charge…

If he has no leverage over this Tory government then I doubt anyone has.
Graham H Shelmerdine

While the government removes arts subjects from state schools, public schools fund and resource them. Eton has two professionally staffed theatres with a flying system, orchestra pit, revolving stage and a TV studio.
Glyn Hale

Music has become a luxury for most families, which is a shame as we are denying many kids with potential a chance to thrive.
Deborah Burtenshaw

In response to Mark Shenton’s claims that standing ovations are getting out of hand…

A standing ovation is a trite affair these days. This absurd springing to the feet is like some zombie reaction to being allowed out.
Stephen McKenna

Let people stand up if they enjoyed it.
Bethan Williams

About musical theatre stars labelled ‘performers’, not ‘actors’…

I use ‘performer’ because I’m not just an actor.
Katie Underhay

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