29 MAY 1964, Page 10

Surely, if education is important, it follows that the fruit

of education must be important too? As things are, as one headmaster recently stated, 'our schools are producing a mass reader- ship for the Daily Mirror.' We may all be able to read now, but to rend rubbish is only another kind of illiteracy. We have towns without theatres, counties without art centres and shires that have never heard an opera. What is the Purpose of education unless these amenities are available at the end of it? Can we not perceive that theatres are as necessary to mental health as public lavatories are to hygiene?

At the annual banquet at the Royal Academy a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister made the boast that 'whereas £8,500,000 used to be spent on the arts, that subsidy had now risen to £13,500,000.' This, is still the attitude of leaving a tip under the plate or throwing a coin to a street singer or pavement artist. Would Sir Alec have dared to state before a meeting of the Royal Society that science was now receiving a sub- sidy of £13,500,000? Are the arts all that less im- portant than science or education to society? They are, of course, if they are considered to be mere decoration hung on the walls of life, mere entertainment after a good dinner. But if that were art, I for one would not bother to be an artist.