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Andrew Lloyd Webber Supports Arts Education in House of Lords

Andrew Lloyd Webber Supports Arts Education in House of Lords

Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber made a speech in the House of Lords yesterday calling for serious investment by government into arts education and suggesting a mainstream awards ceremony to recognise exceptional achievement by young people. Below, check out a full transcript of Lloyd Webber's speech:

I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, on introducing this very important debate. I would like to share an idea which I hope may be of some value in encouraging young people to pursue careers in the vital areas of industry that this country needs if we are to prosper and which may not appear to be as glamorous as some others.

The catalyst for this idea comes from the Architectural Angel awards, which are an annual event that are now held in the Palace Theatre in London in association with English Heritage. The awards recognise the unsung people who set about raising money in order to save or restore historic buildings and who have no support from anywhere other than from themselves. I am pleased to say that the awards have hit a spot. This year we have Clare Balding presenting them, with Graham Norton and the noble Lord, Lord Bragg. The awards recognise individuals who, completely on their own, have achieved something in an area that is of enormous value to the nation but is not sung about.

My idea-I stress that this is not formed in any detail-is why do the Government not support an awards ceremony that recognises exceptional achievement by young people in industry in its widest sense, whether it be craftsmen, plumbers, technicians, you name it? My idea is that the awards would be presented in a West End theatre in exactly the same way as the Oscars or the Olivier awards, with categories to be decided and nominees in each category. I believe the awards would receive national TV coverage, generate sponsorship and provide public recognition of trades vital to this country but which do not get shouted about. If the idea has any merit or appeals to anyone, I would be delighted to offer, say, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane or the London Palladium as a venue to host the event.

On a slightly different note- which I feel I have to raise because the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, spoke so brilliantly about music in education-would it not be a good idea if we celebrated the success of the music policy at Highbury Grove school, which I am sure many noble Lords will have read about, which shows that music can make a vital difference?

I end by referring to something that I have mentioned in the House before but which is perhaps appropriate in the 50thanniversary year of the Beatles: that funding arts education should be regarded by the Government as a serious investment and not as an item for cutting.

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