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Ed Sheeran says Tory government think art ‘doesn’t matter‘

He hit out at arts funding cuts ahead of this week's General Election.

By Will Richards

(Photo: Liz Collins for Rolling Stone)

Ed Sheeran has hit out at the Tory government for their lack of support for the arts, saying they believe the form “doesn’t matter”.

Speaking ahead of this week’s General Election on the This Past Weekend podcast with Theo Von, Sheeran said he spoke to an old music teacher about the cuts and how they are affecting the next generation of musicians in the UK.

He said: “I’ve been doing probably for the last seven years stuff with music in high schools because in my area, so basically in 2017/ 2018, my old music teacher came to me and he was like, ‘look, the government that is currently in charge, do not value art at all.. arts, drama, music.’ And they cut all the funding for comprehensive high schools.

“So my music teacher came to me and was going, I think they had to share between art, music and drama, like £700 per year for all three subjects. So I started funding that at my local high school. And then you see a massive uptick in kids doing production, kids doing songwriting, kids doing this.”

The singer went on: “I built a recording studio there. There’s loads of proper instruments that aren’t broken and you just see the school getting better at music. So then I started doing that in the county that I’m from. And we’ve just now changed it to do it nationwide. And I’m now visiting more high schools and places that really need music funding.

“And you see what a difference it makes too. Because I’m not an academic person and in the real world I would be viewed as stupid, but I excelled at music and therefore people think that I’m good at something.”

He added: “We’re famous for music with The Beatles. We’re famous for painting. Damien Hurst. We’re famous for movies. You’ve got Danny Boyle coming out of here, Christopher Nolan.

“And the government is just putting importance on maths and banking and we make arms, but no one is proud that we make arms and no one is proud that our banking’s really good, but they are proud of our art. And so for a government to be like the art doesn’t matter, where do you think the arts’ going to come from? So the next part of my career is getting proper, proper funding and art, music, drama back into schools and actually Ireland do a very good job of it.”

Of what might happen after Thursday’s (July 4) general election, Sheeran added: “I’m doing what I can to get funding for it. But I think getting the new government will be better at it. But the thing that, that’s kind of what I want to segue into is music education. It worked so well for me and I know it can work so well for other kids. I’m kind of proof that normal kids can just pick up guitars, work hard and do it.”

“Britain is a great and proud country, but after 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work anymore,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said upon the announcement of the election. “Public services crumbling, ambulances that don’t come, families weighed down by higher mortgage rates, antisocial behaviour on our high streets – the list goes on and on.”