Leading artists unite to oppose cuts to arts funding

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Some of the country's most respected artists including David Hockney, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin yesterday lent their weight to a campaign urging the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, not to destroy the "long term" achievements of their industry by reducing arts funding.

The 100 artists have joined almost 2,000 people who have signed a petition against proposed cuts to government funding of the arts, which are expected imminently as part of the Spending Review, to be announced next month.

The petition states: "It has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world. We, the undersigned, appeal to the Government not to slash arts funding and risk destroying this long-term achievement and the social and economic benefits it brings to all."

The campaign was launched with the release of an animated video by the artist, David Shrigley, highlighting the effect of possible cuts. In it, a farmer instructs his son on the national importance of various art forms, stressing "the arts are to Britain what the sun is to Spain". The video is the first in a series of works which will be unveiled on a weekly basis, including pieces by the Turner-Prize winners, Jeremy Deller and Mark Wallinger.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate Galleries, suggested earlier this week that discussions had already taken place with the Government about the impact of cuts on the industry. "We are confident that when they see what the impact might be they will look again at certainly some of the extreme streams that have been speculated on," he said.

A new campaign, I Value the Arts, will go live on Monday, urging the public to voice their support for the arts. People are being asked to register at ivaluethearts.org.uk.