28 AUGUST 1971, Page 20

Mr Patrick Gibson, chairman of Penguin Publishing and Pearson Longman,

and active on numerous cultural committees, seems the right sort of public-spirited arts man to succeed Lord Goodman as chairman of the Arts Council. He may well do so. But not, as has been generally reported, because he is the nominee of the Council itself. Gibson will get the appointment if, and only if, he is Lord Eccles's man.

The Minister with responsibility for the Arts is unlikely merely to rubberstamp the recommendations of Council members. They have not, after all, been especially swift in accommodating some of the minister's recommendations, and their own positions are likely to come under very careful scrutiny indeed as their terms of office expire.

Faith and hopes

A couple of American showbiz entrepreneurs, Stu Duncan and Joe Beruh, are in town casting a rock musical called Godspell (already staged in a small theatre OffBroadway), which re-tells the Gospel according to St Matthew in modern terms. Even though it features Jesus, as a rednosed clown, getting crucified on a barbed wire fence, its sponsors claim it is reverent

and inoffensive. reserve judgement on that, and also on their hopes of a long London run. But at least their faith seemed to be shared by one unsuccessful auditioner for the Jesus role. "Oh, well," he consoled himself as he left, "it would have been a hell of a way to spend Easter."