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Thank you for a world-class Spring of Culture festival.

Bravo, Shaikha Mai for giving Bahrain the cultural festival that it deserves and your patrons, as the many letters on these pages show, are grateful for you standing firm to the slings and arrows of a small militia of mud-flingers on a messianic mission of mealy-mouthed myopia to stop others looking to the stars.

"Critics", said the inimitable Oscar Wilde, "find fault in the best of things."

But thanks to you and your team, who each year bring a superlative Spring of Culture to an ever appreciative and expanding audience, this year you brought performers of world renown, whose recordings and performances have been seen and heard by millions.

Anyone who saw the organisation, superb surroundings and magnificence of both the Iglesias and Bocelli concerts, will remember it for the rest of their lives.

The whole programme was a credit to your daring and determination to allow people in Bahrain to see world-class performers in a local setting and to demonstrate that Bahrain could put on a world-class show.

Now, of course, that costs money, considerable amounts of money, and that always means a trade off against other priorities.

But culture too, is part of the human spirit, of its very ethos.

Man cannot live by bread alone and therefore cake was created for an occasional indulgence.

And just as governments subsidise many aspects of life in Bahrain, why should they neglect cerebral development?

The vast audiences which have attended the Spring of Culture events also deserve 'nourishment'.

They too are contributors to the societal make-up of Bahrain, to its richness.

More people attended the events, than those who support football matches.

Yet there is never any quibble about the costs of the stadia that must be maintained, the enormous cost of flood-lighting, providing extra police for traffic congestion and crowd control, etc?

An MP argued that the Spring of Culture catered to an elite!

Well, that is a value judgement on people's appreciation, usually made by others who value things differently and see art and culture as some sort of highbrow event.

Which it is not, for art crosses all boundaries and attracts all manner of people who are prepared to make sacrifices, including financial ones, to attend such magnificent concerts.

Many, I am sure, gladly sacrificed a meal out or the cost of a new dress, to see someone of such stature as Bocelli.

Could everyone afford it? No, probably not. But that is not a reason to castigate Shaikha Mai for bringing us such a remarkable event, of giving us the opportunity to see a performer we might never otherwise see, a performer offering inspiration to a host of others in the audience.

Maybe even the next Bocelli!

So stand firm, Shaikha Mai, at your 'grilling' before parliament, for many in Bahrain are right beside you.

Remember Kipling!

Keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

Trust yourself, when all men doubt you.

You got it right, alright.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7BAHR
Date:Mar 16, 2012
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