Sir Patrick Stewart leads actor protest over arts cuts

Sir Patrick Stewart (centre) and Samuel West (r) are among actors against arts cuts

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Some of the UK's leading actors have gathered in London to protest against the recent round of Arts cuts.

Sir Patrick Stewart, Penelope Wilton and Samuel West are among the stars who have signed and delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for a "coherent" arts policy.

Last week, more than 200 organisations lost out on annual funding from Arts Council England.

Sir Patrick told the BBC he felt the cuts were "unnecessary".

The petition asks the government for an "arts summit" involving funding bodies and artists to give the industry a clear direction.

"We don't know what policy exists," said Sir Patrick. "We know that we represent part of British culture, which is a massive success. It seems as though we're just adrift."

Some 695 groups will get funding for 2012 to 2015 - down from 849 - while 110 new groups have been successful.

West said the arts industry was the "second most profitable sector in Britain" and it was important funding continued to keep the sector going.

"It ain't broke, so don't fix it, a £100 million cut to a £450 million budget is not minor," he added.

"We want a government funded Arts Council that allows us to be as successful as we are at the moment and continue to play our part in paying for hospital beds. We're profitable. We want to continue to be.

"I would accept the need for cuts if they were equal across sectors but I don't think banks are paying their due."

Meanwhile, Sky has launched a £1.2 million fund, which is aimed at supporting arts organisations across the UK.

The Sky Arts Ignition Series, will pledge up to £200,000 to six arts organisations over the next three years.

Each of the projects created from the money will be promoted on Sky Arts.

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