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Culture and business chiefs join forces to fight for arts funding

13th January 2015

An unprecedented coalition of top figures from the arts and business worlds has challenged the Government to do everything possible to ensure Britain’s continued global success in the creative industries.

Online pioneer Martha Lane Fox, director Paul Greengrass, Ray Davies of The Kinks and television executives Elisabeth Murdoch and Tony Hall joined arts leaders and politicians of all the major parties for the launch of the Creative Industries Federation.

John Kampfner, its director, told the gathering at the University of the Arts at Kings Cross: “The federation will be fearless in challenging politicians and the industry to understand that Britain’s success is imperilled if we fail to invest in our arts.” Chancellor George Osborne acknowledged in a speech that the creative industries delivered £71 billion to the economy and employed 1.7 million people. “Although it’s not as big a contributor to the economy as banking, at least the Arts Council grant is not as expensive as the bail-out of the banking industry,” he said.

He floated the possibility of a tax break for children’s television and said he was now looking at how to support orchestras.

He concluded: “Ultimately what you do is express who we are as a society and who we are as a country.”

That was a “human endeavour worthy of support in its own right and not just because it adds to our GDP,” he said, and pointed to Paul Cummins, who created the poppies memorial at the Tower of London, to demonstrate what art could do.

Leading guests, who included Justin Bickle and Tamara Rojo, the chairman and artistic director of English National Ballet, immediately flagged some problems. Greengrass, award-winning director of films including The Bourne Supremacy and United 93, spoke of the need to tackle piracy, and artist Anish Kapoor said the UK was closing its arts colleges while China built them.

Read more on the Evening Standard website