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Andrew Lloyd Webber calls for more pressure on schools to teach the arts

Lord Lloyd Webber, John Tiffany and Sir Kenneth Branagh all speak out against the reduction of the arts in schools at the Olivier awards

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Lord Lloyd Webber, John Tiffany and Sir Kenneth Branagh all speak out against the reduction of the arts in schools at the Olivier awards

Andrew Lloyd Webber championed arts education at the Olivier theatre awards last night.

The composer won the outstanding achievement award for School of Rock, and used his acceptance speech to stress the importance of teaching the arts in schools. 

Flanked by the young cast of his award-winning musical, Lord Lloyd Webber said: "We need to keep putting pressure on schools to show them that children want to play music.

"It's not about turning people into musicians, it's just about teaching that music can empower you and give you something wonderful in life."

Lord Lloyd Webber wasn't the only influential Olivier award-winner to issue a plea to protect arts education.

'It's sending me crazy'

John Tiffany, director of the nine-time award-winning show Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, also gave a passionate contribution to the debate.

"It's disturbing how the path I took to get here, free guitar lessons and university grants, is now blocked,"  he said.

"It's unbelievable how little infrastructure there is to celebrate people who want to be educated in the arts, and it's kind of sending me crazy.

"If I could I would put a different government in place and put arts at the heart of any kind of education and learning."

Sir Kenneth Branagh also joined in the campaign, explaining how the economic benefits of movies and theatre are a "proven fact".

After picking up a special award for his near 40-year career on stage and screen, Sir Kenneth said: "I don't want to blow my own trumpet, but over the last few decades just the films I have been involved in have brought hundreds of millions of pounds into the UK economy. It really is a good return.

"Theatre and film also play a role in expanding people's points of view and broadening minds, which makes a real difference to society.

"In the arts industry it's a proven fact how small investments return massively more than was spent, and the cultural impact it has on our children is huge."

Fears over the loss of drama, music, dance and art from the curriculum have been mounting since the introduction of the English Baccalaureate in schools

Lord Lloyd Webber has donated millions to London schools for free musical tuition. Strictly Come Dancing's Darcey Bussell has also stressed that arts education should be a right, not a privilege.

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