The U.K. government is facing a backlash from some of the country’s most prominent artists and writers after revealing plans to slash funding for higher education arts courses by 50%.
The budget cuts follow a six-week consultation by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Office for Students, the independent regulator for higher education in England, that found arts education subjects were not “strategic priorities”.
The budget cuts may come into effect during the 2021-22 academic year. Other proposals include increased funding for courses “identified as supporting the NHS”, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
A petition opposing the cuts, launched on 5 May by the arts lobbying group, describes the reduction in funding as “a targeted attack on arts subjects” and has received more than 56,000 signatures.
“Artists and curators” are also “urging the government to reconsider” The Art Newspaper adds that the “truly appalling cuts to arts subjects will further divide society”. And Booker prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other author Bernardine Evaristo wrote on Twitter that “this tin-pot chumocratic government has its priorities all wrong”, adding: “An absurd £37 bn on the failed Test & Trace, unlawfully awarded, now this awful assault on the arts in universities.” (The Guardian 10 May 2021).
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