British artists launch a campaign against funding cuts

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Ralph Rugoff, once L.A. Weekly’s art critic and now director of the Hayward Gallery on London’s South Bank, helped launch a campaign Friday to stave off draconian funding cuts to the arts in Britain. The campaign -- supported by some of the nation’s most famous artists, including David Hockney, Rachel Whiteread, Damien Hirst, Anthony Caro and Bridget Riley -- seeks to prevent a whopping 25% reduction in government arts support.

It’s not the fact of cuts in a poor economy that is at issue, Rugoff told the Guardian, it’s the size of the cuts that arts organizations are being asked to accept.

For the next six weeks, when the government’s spending review will be announced, artists associated with the group Save the Arts will release new works that highlight the issue. First up is a four-minute video animation by David Shrigley, in which a farmer at work plowing fields, shearing sheep and feeding the pigs explains to his young son why arts funding matters.

Specific to Britain -- animated versions of artist Tracey Emin and Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney turn up in the video -- it also makes numerous points applicable elsewhere, including the United States.


-- Christopher Knight