BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 13:27 GMT
Emin condemns the British Council
Tracey Emin
Emin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale art show last year
Artists Damien Hirst, David Hockney and Tracey Emin have joined more than 100 British artists who have signed a letter condemning the British Council.

They are angry over claims made in the Guardian newspaper that the council is planning a radical shake-up.

The letter says the artists are "specially concerned" at the demise of the council's visual arts department.

The British Council said: "People are commenting on something when they haven't seen the final picture."

'Tragic loss'

The spokeswoman added: "We'll retain specialist expertise across sectors and we're undergoing extensive consultation over the next couple of months with key people from the sector.

"Essentially all we have at the moment is some internal restructuring," she added.

The letter also said: "Why, without any consultation, does the British Council seem intent on abandoning the best proven means of conducting cultural relations through the arts?

"The department's programme of over 60 shows a year... would be an inexplicable and, indeed, tragic loss. These exhibitions... represent Britain in the best possible light."

According to its website the British Council Arts group "brings the best of UK arts to the rest of the world".

It exists "to build mutually beneficial cultural and educational relationships between the United Kingdom and other countries, and increase appreciation of the United Kingdom's creative ideas and achievements".

It's appalling really, considering the amount the British Council has done over the years
Rachel Whiteread
Artist

Venu Dhupa, director of arts for the British Council, told the Guardian the issue was whether the council should have a basket of competing art forms, or bring them together to be a "united force for change".

She said: "What I'm trying to do...is making sure that the arts are a strategic transformation force, because that's when they are at their most powerful."

Other signatories include Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, Gilbert & George, Joanna Lumley, Melvyn Bragg and Antony Gormley.

Speaking to the newspaper artist Rachel Whiteread said: "It's appalling really, considering the amount the British Council has done over the years for highlighting British contemporary art all over the world and helping it have an enormous reputation."

SEE ALSO
Ask Emin: Your questions answered
08 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Artist Emin unveils cryptic flag
13 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Hirst donates four works to Tate
14 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Hockney hails 'fresh' Turner art
11 Jun 07 |  Entertainment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific