Light amid gloom

SPENDING on the arts has been among the areas worst hit by the Government's cuts programme, leaving many organisations, projects and programmes hanging by a thread.

Art lovers must have feared the worst when it was revealed the stunning Procession to Calvary by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, which has enraptured visitors to Nostell Priory, near Wakefield, for more than two centuries, was up for sale.

The likelihood was that it could disappear from public view or even leave the country, especially with a price tag of 2.7m.

It is testament to a tremendous fund-raising campaign that the iconic work has now been saved for the nation, bringing a rare glimmer of light to the gloom which is likely envelop the arts and heritage industries for the foreseeable future.

Members of the public, including thousands who have seen the Old Master on display in the region, contributed generously.

Their efforts, and those of a host of grant-giving organisations, mean the extraordinary work should continue to be the star attraction at Nostell for centuries to come.