Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Protect Arts Cash or Risk Our Economic Recovery, Say Cultural Leaders

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Protect Arts Cash or Risk Our Economic Recovery, Say Cultural Leaders

Article excerpt

Byline: Louise Jury Chief Arts Correspondent

ARTS and cultural leaders today issued a warning that Britain's economic strength could be "shattered" if funding to the sector is cut.

The Tate's Sir Nicholas Serota, the British Museum's Neil MacGregor and the National Theatre's Sir Nicholas Hytner were joined by Sir Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate, cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber, actor Griff Rhys Jones, Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry and Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha to issue a plea to protect arts funding after the election.

Samuel West, currently starring in the West End hit Enron which began with tiny subsidised theatre company Headlong, said maintaining arts funding was a "no-brainer".

Speaking at the launch of a joint manifesto for the future of culture, he said: "The arguments are so clear, economically, socially, aesthetically, that the only possible reason to reduce the total amount of money available for the arts in this country is censorship."

The group gathered in the British Museum's Great Court less than 24 hours after Chancellor Alistair Darling slashed [pounds sterling]60 million -- about four per cent -- from the Department for Culture, Media and Sports 2010-2011 budget.

But fears are of even bigger cutbacks to come. Shadow culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt has admitted the arts would be given no special protection under the Tories.

Cultural Capital: A Manifesto for the Future, presented by a coalition of 17 bodies from Arts Council England to Visit London, argues that any reduction in public investment would make poor economic sense -- and that the arts have already accepted massive cuts of [pounds sterling]2.2 billion to pay for the Olympics.

Mr MacGregor said the arts in Britain was an "enormous phenomenon" in public life supported by a "tiny part" of public expenditure. …

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