10 OCTOBER 1981, Page 19

Our greatest asset

Sir: Tom Sutcliffe's arguments set out in 'The arts and the nanny state' (19 September) could easily be refuted one by one, which would take a letter twice as long as his article. But there is one overriding factor which he has totally ignored: the arts are almost the only asset left with which Great Britain leads the world. If he considers that such successes as Amadeus (National Theatre in the West End and on Broadway), Nicholas Nickleby (Royal Shakespeare Company now on Broadway), our London and regional orchestras, the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet, our international art exhibitions, our jazz artists and composers, our novelists and poets, our films and painters all do not rank supreme in the world then he cannot consider that the Arts Council stands for very much in life.

However, the Council stands or falls on its achievements over the past 35 years. These achievements earn this country well over £200 million each year in exported books, records, music, design and the hidden export of tourism. The Arts Council is typical of this country's unique success in combining the commercial and subsidised worlds and the utilisation of professional talent and upaid advisers. We have so little left to relish — let us rejoice in this achievement.

Terry Earley 217c High Street, Kensington, London W8