Britain's top artists protest arts cuts

Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:43 PM
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LONDON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- More than 100 U.K. artists have written the culture secretary saying government spending cuts would obliterate a cultural scene "that is the envy of the world."

The open letter to Jeremy Hunt signed by almost every winner of the Turner prize for excellence in contemporary art says a 25-percent cut in funding to the arts will sabotage achievements, The Guardian reported Friday.

Among its signatories are David Hockney, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Grayson Perry and Briget Riley.

"It has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain, one that is the envy of the world. It does all this at a cost that is no more than a tiny fraction of the national budget," the letter said.

"We appeal to the government not to slash funding to the arts and heritage. It risks destroying this remarkable and fertile landscape of culture and creativity, and the social and economic benefits it brings to all. We recognize that cuts and efficiencies are necessary, but the 25 percent or more funding cuts being considered will sabotage Britain's unparalleled achievements in this area," the letter said.

"Putting the country's finances in order is the government's top priority. We know we will need to make significant cuts in public spending and the arts sector will have to play its part in that. We will need to take difficult decisions but our priority is protecting the cultural excellence of the nation for the long term," a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said.

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