Our champions

The National Campaign for the Arts is supported by a circle of celebrity champions. These like-minded individuals lend their presence so people sit up and listen.

Riz Ahmed
Actor, writer, musician and activist

Art is how we understand the world around us, our society, each other, and ourselves. Unless we widen access to making and experiencing art we will have a limited understanding of what matters, who we are, and how we are all connected.

Zawe Ashton
Actor, Writer, Director

Art is escape. Everyone deserves escapism. Everyone deserves to get outside of themselves. Everyone deserves the magic tools that escapism provides, to negotiate their own reality.

Anthony Anaxagorou
Writer of poetry, fiction and prose

If we lose our artistic voice we lose our cultural voice. It’s vital for any healthy democracy to have a society that promotes and emboldens the arts and that respects those who are ambitious enough to make the art that is so very much in need, particularly during times of global pandemonium.

Baroness Joan Bakewell
Journalist, TV presenter, Peer

The arts enhance our sense of being alive: both as exhilarating experiences or as quieter reflective moments. The arts answer all the needs of our human psyche. Without them we are robots.

Photo ©Eivind Hansen Photography

Juno Dawson
YA Author

‘The Arts’ can sound lofty, but it’s just shorthand for our music, our books, our theatre, our photos, our clothes. It’s everything we are as a culture. We must protect funding for something that’s so fundamental to being human.

Les Dennis
actor, comedian, television presenter

As a child of 60’s Liverpool I was fortunate to have access to the amazing arts output of that remarkable city. It is vital that our children have the benefit of all that the arts can give them. We ignore their importance at our peril.

Monty Don
Writer, Gardener, TV Presenter

Poetry reaches every heart. It flowers in the spaces between all that is controlled and measured and restrained and if we do not cultivate and nurture it we shrivel and die.

Photo © Alex Rumford

Julia Donaldson CBE
Children’s writer, former Children’s Laureate

The arts help us enter other minds and understand our own feelings. They stimulate us, inspire us, challenge us, stop us from becoming smug and dogmatic. They are a link between past and future generations. They are what make us human.

Photo © Rachell Smith

Noma Dumezweni
Actress and director

I was very lucky that I found a place in my youth where I truly belonged. The arts gave me that – I really wasn’t comfortable in other mediums. Government funding is vital, I can’t bear the thought of new/growing artists left unsupported by a society that needs them. Look around you; we give you choices for empathy. I’d like to see that expand.

Howard Goodall CBE
Composer and broadcaster

A love of, education in, life lived with the creative arts makes us brave even when we don’t feel brave; makes us happy when we most need it; brings us together when we are isolated; offers us imagination when the road ahead is uncertain; gives us a purpose, a passion and a voice, and, often, a great job. Not much, then.

Stephen Fry
Comedian, actor, writer, presenter and activist

The arts tickle, sting, stroke, slap, shake and hug us. They remind us to value the beauty and strangeness in us all.

Lee Hall

Art is for everybody. Everybody is creative. Everybody is moved, astonished, consoled or galvanised by some tune, image, words, that have brought profound meaning to our lives. Art is as crucial to being fully alive as any physical sustenance. It is vital to our understanding of ourselves, of others, the world around us, how we live and how we die. It has been this way since we dwelled in caves and sat around campfires at night to reimagine the day.

Yet somehow we find ourselves excluded from our own heritage. Millions of us have no proper access. Millions have had it stolen from them by believing ‘it is not for them’. But this is our common inheritance, made rich and sustained by every person who takes part in it.

It is essential that we are all able to share what it is to be alive, to take account of the things that money, politics, community or commerce can’t provide. It is essential to take part in the greatest things that human beings have thought or made. Essential to be part of that vast flow of human creativity which defines who we are and enables us to conjure where we might go next. Without access to that understanding, whatever our fiscal achievements, we are very poor indeed.

Economically, spiritually, intellectually the Arts have always been a place of transformation. They magic something out of nothing, value out of thin air. They inspire – breathe life. Since the beginning of recorded time (very often they are that recorded time) they have renewed us, celebrated our greatest glories, chastened our egregious stupidities and made consolation when we reach our limits.

The last sixty years has seen an incredible age in all of the Arts. British culture in Art, Music, Dance, Film, Theatre and Literature has been the envy of the world. These achievements have been recognised world wide. They have provided work for millions of people, brought vast wealth to the exchequer, and have touched and transformed the life of all of us. This was not by accident. It was by design. A generation of politicians, business people and civil servants made a modest provision for the Arts, and access to them, a central to the vision of the Welfare State, and what we wanted our lives to be. The Arts here have flourished, really like nowhere else, because we have funded education, seeded small bits of money to allow people to find their feet, backed profound creativity, innovation and vision in order that it can flourish and enrich us all. It has been phenomenally successful: a patronage by the many, for the many, and none of us has remained untouched by the tsumani of creativity it has unleashed.

But this second Elizabethan Age is truly under threat. Somehow we have forgotten how this happened. We are in huge danger of taking it for granted. Already the planks have been taken away. Unless we continue to nurture, unless we continue to understand that a rich culture is created by us providing what the market cannot – in order for the market to lend its own support – it will dry up at the source.

We cannot afford to neglect the Arts. There has rarely been a time in recent history where it has been as important to understand each other, to share with each other the intimacies that class, creed, race or religion make opaque, and to find an expression of what we have in common despite all our differences. Art is that place. We neglect it at our peril.

It is a gift that we must keep giving.

Rufus Hound

The prevalent understanding in our society is that value is measured in pound coins. Art exists – and must – in juxtaposition to that folly. In whatever form, art is life’s defiant roar at death. Artistry should be encouraged in, and available to, every living soul, or else we reduce humanity to little more than semi-sentient moss. Art for all is a must, not a maybe. I am proud to support the National Campaign for the Arts in its demands.

Phil Jupitus
Phil Jupitus

Phill Jupitus
Comedian, actor, poet, cartoonist

A creative life is great and we all deserve to find out if it’s for us… ALL OF US!


-from the cartoon which Phill drew for us

© Jake Turney

Sheku Kanneh-Mason
Cellist, BBC Young Musician of the Year 2016

The Arts should be for everyone, regardless of background, class or culture. We need to protect its funding, making access a right, not a privilege.

Photo © Denise Else

Jackie Kay MBE FRSE
Poet, novelist, Makar

Art allows you to find rooms you never knew existed in houses you did know existed – to walk in and open the doors and windows. It makes you want to tell others what you’ve seen.

Photo © Suki Dhanda

Lauren Laverne

For me it isn’t a question of where we’d be without the arts – but who. Who would any of us be without the music we love, the books we read and the ideas we share?

Gary Lineker OBE
TV Presenter, Ex-England Footballer

Theatre has become a huge passion of mine over the last few years. The Arts in this country is something we should be immensely proud of and deserves our support.

Photo © Els Zweerink

Dame Hilary Mantel FRSL

The arts exist to connect, heal and delight us. Only an ignorant nation trains soldiers but not actors, maintains missiles and closes libraries. Talent needs to be nourished; it needs a little money for seed-corn. The return on the investment is beyond price.

Eleanor Matsuura

Art is imagination.
Art says anything is possible. That anyone can say, do and be anything they want.
We are all born with an infinite imagination so why should the arts be limited to only those who can afford it? The arts should not be a commodity, they are an essential human response to the world and who we are within it.
To invest in the arts is to invest in our true selves. The arts show us a way forward.
Our future belongs to those with the imagination to see beyond the present. By funding the arts lets give the gift of infinite possibility to our children. We must invest in hope. We must invest in each other. We must invest in imagination.

Photo © Robert Workman

David Morrissey
Actor, director, producer

What I want is for the arts in general to be seen by people from working class backgrounds as a viable profession. That our world is inclusive and open to people from all walks of life.

Photo © Eric Richmond

Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE
Double bassist, broadcaster, former sprinter

The arts are not an optional add-on to our society; they are central to it. Making the arts accessible to all is a responsibility not just of the government but of us all as individuals.

Sir Michael Palin CBE
Actor and Broadcaster

Awakening our creative energies is one of the best ways of dealing with the pressures of our busy, complicated lives. Everyone has a story to tell. Now, more than ever, we need support and encouragement, at every level of society, to express ourselves through the arts.

Maxine Peake

The Arts are a vital and much-needed release for everyone. Whether it is through a creation of your own or responding to someone else’s. As humans we have always had a need to tell stories. It is essential to our being and that can encompass any art form. We must all fight to keep them and fight to keep them for all.

Photo © Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry CBE RA

Culture can be a travel pass within society, I have seen all around and more importantly been up and down all because of my love of making and looking at art. Art is for everyone and often because of state funding the best stuff is free.

Photo © K. T. Bruce

Sir Philip Pullman FRSL

The arts are the only way of satisfying a very particular sort of hunger. If we’re lucky, we discover that hunger and the food that satisfies it at the same time, best of all when we’re young. I hate to think of anyone never discovering it, never knowing the longing and the fulfilment and the soul-deep ever-renewing delight which only music, or poetry, or dance, or drama, or painting can give, and the truths they teach us about ourselves. Every nation should make it a priority to surround its children with art of every kind; no-one, old or young, should suffer hunger of that kind.

Philippe Sands QC
Human rights lawyer, author, Professor

Art tells us where we have come from and to where we are heading. As we hurtle back to the 1930s, nothing teaches us more than the visual arts, film and photo, poetry and prose, song and stage. Supporting the arts has never been more important than it is right now.

Photo © Simon Anan

Meera Syal CBE
Actress, novelist, screenwriter

All Art is about empathy; standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling someone else’s pain and joy, seeing our humanity reflected back at us. Its about what we have in common, not what makes us different. Its alive and its ours.