Don't Be Blind to Social Problems

Article excerpt

It is both disturbing and callous to hear the public cry that some offenders should have their hands cut off.

Soundbites like these may well score points with friends and neighbours, but ask the same people to get more involved in addressing underlying social problems and they are as quiet as the proverbial church mouse.

Kid no one: there but for the grace of God it could have been your son or daughter. Let's be thankful too that organisations like the Depaul Trust have helped former offender John Taylor get his life back on track ( in his own words, the trust treats him "like a real human being". (Chronicle, November 26).

All too often today, parents and young offenders become disenfranchised from the rest of the community. Stigma and prejudice alienates them even more. Is it not ironic that the wonderful support of which John Taylor has been the beneficiary is what a whole string of tearful mums and dads would give their right arms for?

ALAN SAVAGE, Cramlington.

Where do we fit into arts?

SOMETIMES you find yourself opening a can of worms.

I felt this while looking at the Arts Council for the North East website www.arts.org.uk. There I happened upon a list of institutions it aids financially, together with the amount of money it gives on our behalf.

I pretend no great knowledge of each organisation, though, like most, am very proud of the North East and its cultural and historical heritage. So I was fairly intrigued. Then horrified.

Raised in a household that prized music and literature, I attend RSC productions, I enjoy the Bach Choir, I go to The Sage, Baltic and the Laing. I enjoy all forms of live music and nobody had better call me a cultural ethnocentric or, worse, a racist ( but I feel we, the public, are being conned.

An extra million for the Baltic seems like a lot when most look at the view, not the "art". …