Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams and others to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
[April 16 1945]

While imperative needs of reconstruction and development must be met with expedition and efficiency, it will be a tragic mistake if they are not controlled by a civiized regard for beauty, history and amenities. The Royal Fine Arts Commission's title implies a protective and guiding relation to there. Since the warrant of 1929 only authorized inquiry into such questions when referred to, and its "extension" of 1933 only to call attention to them, it will remain, in spite of the good work it has done, comparatively impotent until invested with authority to enforce its decisions and veto destructive and undesirable projects.
We think the commission's composition needs revision and extension; for at the present moment it is in the Gilbertian position of representing none of the fine arts except architecture, which fills five of the 11 chairs (its acting secretary is also an architect). This is disproportionate and we feel we represent general opinion in advocating increase of membership by as many painters, sculptors and other artists as there are laymen and representatives of architecture and engineering.
Even with such augmented authority it will be a gigantic task to deal with the multitudinous aesthetic and other issues which loom ahead, and we further suggest the institution of sub-commissions in the principal provincial centres with watching briefs and giving periodical first-hand reports to aid the commission, which, with such reorganization and powers, would really represent the fine arts and function more effectively.
We are, Sir, yours faithfully,
Charles Wheeler, Herbert Baker, Gilbert Bayes, Max Beerbohm, D.Y. Cameron, Philip Connard, W. Reid Dick, T.C. Dugdale, Fred W. Ewell, Francis Howard, Augustus John, W. Goscombe John, D.S. MacColl, Henry Rushbury, G. Bernard Shaw, Ralph Vaughan Williams


General notes: 

Printed in The Times, Wednesday, April 18, 1945, p. 5, headed "Reconstruction and Taste: Scope of Fine Arts Commission: Membership and Powers".

The Times (no.50120), Wednesday, April 18, 1945, p. 5.