3 MAY 1975, Page 7

Will Waspe

Hugh Jenkins's Arts Ministry seems to . be uncommonly interested in the 'true' identity of Will Waspe. My Colfeague, art critic Evan Anthony, cordially invited to a small gathering at the Belgrave Square headquarters the other night, went along in the understandable belief that something specifically concerning his subject was afoot. Not a bit of it. Jenkins was having his usual waffle about VAT and PLR. No other art critics were present. The reason for Anthony's presence seemed to become apparent, however, when a Jenkins aide approached him and asked, "Tell me, who is Will Waspe?"

"Guess," said Anthony. "I think you are," was the saucy response.

Commercial venture

The British Tourist Authority, I learn, is giving its blessing and backing to a new scheme to sell West End theatre tickets to US tourists before the tourists actually leave for Britain. Agencies are being opened across America to do the plugging and selling, with actress Moira Lister waving the flag on a whistle-stop promotional tour. Doubtless some good business will result. Pause awhile to co,nsider, however, whether the scheme should really have official backing. For the men behind it are half a dozen London impresarios, who will naturally see that most of the specific promoting is on behalf of their own shows. If the BTA wants to interest itself in this sort of dollar-earning (and there is a lot to be said for it), it seems to Waspe that they should be sponsoring .; wholly independent scheme and offering independent critical judgements and advice to intending US theatregoers. The pained complaint of most American theatregoers in London is that they have been steered to dud shows (tedious local farces mostly) by hotel porters and the like who know as little about the scene as they do themselves, but doubtless have their own good reasons for the recommendations they make.


That was a nice little PR job Philip Oakes did in the Sunday Times for artist Karen Usborne and her exhibition of female nudes. "Telling the naked truth" was the title on the piece, and some of the truth was, indeed, told. Oakes did mention that Miss Usborne is married to cartoonist Mel Calman (his colleague, as it happens, on the Sunday Times). What he unaccountably didn't mention is that the owners of the Workshop Gallery in Lambs Conduit Street who are putting on the show and have such faith in the young artist, are Mel Calman and Karen Usborne.