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We have to recognise the huge value of arts and culture to society

Peter Bazalgette: ‘Great art and culture really can be for everyone.’ Photograph: Richard Saker for the Guardian Last week I witnessed the unveiling of an extraordinary sculpture at Heathrow’s new Terminal 2. Slipstream is inspired by the aerodynamic path of a stunt plane and it’s an apparently fluid, 78-metre, 77-ton “whale” of riveted aluminium that’s emerged from the imagination of its creator, Richard Wilson. It will certainly impress tourists and add lustre to Britain’s creative image abroad. But its economic benefit is not really why many of us loved it. We found it exciting, elevating and romantically redolent of our flying and manufacturing past. So Slipstream reminded us that…