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(Credit: Linda Browntree)

Damon Albarn says the UK government has no "empathy" for the arts

In one of the more obvious comments we’ve read this week, Damon Albarn, the man behind the hugely successful Blur and Gorillaz projects, has aimed at the UK government and said they lack “empathy” for the arts.

Albarn has pointed out the government’s strange balances when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the lifting of restrictions.

Appearing at the Manchester International Festival, Albarn spoke to Channel 4 and noted how the gig was socially distanced, but 60,000 fans were allowed to attend a football match at the weekend.

“Let’s face it, it’s not just 60,000 [at Wembley],” he said. “It’s the whole country [that] was not socially distancing. I wasn’t, nobody was.” It’s a point of hypocrisy that has not been lost on the art community at large.

“My point is, certain things are more important than others, and sometimes I think the lines are blurred – no pun intended – between those things,” continued the Blur frontman.

“I think we need to be a bit more defined: the arts are very important. They’re essential to our mental health, to our spiritual health, and we need to treat them as seriously as we do sport. And we don’t in this country – not at the moment.”

He took a moment to point out the government, in particular, as an issue for the arts: “It cannot be denied that the Conservatives have less empathy than maybe they should have for the arts. It doesn’t seem to be as important.

“Look at what’s happening in schools – look at the way art classes and music classes are being sidelined for more digital-based education. It’s so important to keep the arts vibrant.”

Watch Damon Albarn take aim at the UK government below.

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