Save the Arts: A Campaign Led by Britain's Top Artists Hopes to Prevent Major Funding Cuts

09/13/2010 03:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Last week I got an email from my dear friend artist and musician Andy Knowles. He directed me to a video animation that he and artist David Shrigley created (watch below) and sent a heartfelt note about the doom and gloom that arts organizations in the UK are facing right now with regards to major funding cuts that are being discussed. The British film industry was facing a similar fate a few months ago, and since then, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has abolished the UK Film Council.

(Please read these two articles to learn more: "Film Council: Jeremy Hunt hits out at critics of his decision to axe it" and "Jeremy Hunt: I've cut the UK Film Council so that money goes to the industry." Additionally, the BBC has put together a comprehensive Q&A on what exactly the Film Council's role is, or was.)

I want to offer this post as a platform for questions and comments, both from those involved in the Save the Arts campaign as well as Huffington Post readers. Media can often misconstrue, editorialize and/or misrepresent views and feelings of their subjects, especially when dealing with such heated issues, so I want this to be an opportunity to let British artists -- many who I have had the opportunity to work with -- and residents to discuss this issue in an open forum. I hope this discussion will encourage readers to sign the petition created by Save the Arts that will be sent to Mr. Hunt asking him not to slash government funding for the visual arts.

The first stage of the campaign presents a new video animation by artist David Shrigley highlighting the effect of the funding cuts.

The costs of David Shrigley's animation have been covered with a grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. All artists engaged in this project have generously donated their time, talent and art.

Let me reiterate the points made in the film:

-If the British government slashes funding, many arts organizations will be forced to close.
-The arts generate vastly more revenue for the British economy than they cost to fund.
-The arts are a major employer.
-The growth of the arts has helped renew derelict city areas throughout Britain.
-People from all over the world go to Britain to visit their arts organizations.
-Of the top ten tourist attractions in the UK, eight are museums.
-Arts organizations are prepared to tighten their belts, but massive cuts will strike a hammer blow to one of Britain's biggest success stories of the past two decades.
-An era of unprecedented growth in the UK's cultural economy will be brought to an abrupt end.

They ask, "Is that something that we want to happen?"

A note from Save the Arts:

The Save the Arts campaign is organized by the London branch of the Turning Point Network, a national consortium of over 2,000 arts organizations and artists dedicated to finding new ways to support the arts in the U.K.

The aim of the Save the Arts campaign is to encourage people to sign a petition which will be sent to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. It points out that it has taken 50 years to create a vibrant arts culture in Britain that is the envy of the world and appeals 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.

Over a hundred leading artists including David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Anthony Caro, Howard Hodgkin, Anish Kapoor, Richard Hamilton, Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin have joined the campaign to make the case against the proposed 25 percent cuts in government funding of the arts. The campaign acknowledges that reasonable cuts and efficiencies are necessary but that the 25 percent cuts being proposed will destroy much of what has been achieved and will have a particularly damaging impact on smaller scale arts organizations, as well as on national and regional museums and their collections.

The first stage of the campaign presents a new video animation by artist David Shrigley highlighting the effect of the funding cuts and a new work by Jeremy Deller with Scott King and William Morris. Each week, the work of a different artist will be released. Mark Wallinger will present the next project.

Sign the petition on Save The Arts.