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Fine Art of survival

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astragal

As the government's spending review enters its final drafting phase, prior to publication later this month, a small group of architecturally motivated people will be holding their breath in St James's Square. I refer to the denizens of the Royal Fine Art Commission, that occasional target of the jealous and the puritan-minded in government circles (of all persuasions). The commission provides fantastic value for money at just over £700,000 pa, covering everything (commissioners give their time for nothing). But there are some who see a potential saving to be made by subordinating Lord St John's fiefdom to a more depressing part of government (Department of Culture? Arts Council?). This would save a piffling amount of money, but could be presented as a big initiative to introduce a cross- departmental design influence, which we were promised before the election, but which has yet to be translated into reality. Nor will it be by fiddling about with the independence of the rfac. It may be that opponents of Lord St John, who is not likely to emerge as a Tony Crony, see the time as ripe for downgrading the commission and downloading its chairman (who in any event retires in 18 months). Neither would do anything at all to improve public or private architecture. Let's hope Chris Smith and Mark Fisher can fight their corner . . .

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