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Shaun Dooley: ‘Dark five years for arts ahead’

Shaun Dooley at the gala night for Stomp. Photo: Piers Allardyce Shaun Dooley at the gala night for Stomp. Photo: Piers Allardyce
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Broadchurch actor Shaun Dooley has warned that the arts has “a dark five years” ahead of it under a Conservative government.

The actor, currently appearing in television series The Game on BBC2, told The Stage he feared for arts and culture under the current government, but said politicians should be investing in the sector, because of the revenue it generates.

“I think we have a dark five years ahead of us. Especially the BBC – that’s a big worry. We [the arts] are easy pickings, it’s very easy to cut us as we will always find a way to create – a way to make things happen. Even though our industry is the biggest income in this country, instead of putting money into it and a system that works… and earning more money back, what the government decides to do is cut, cut, cut. They know that there will still be revenue coming in. But they should be investing, as the more they do the more they will get back. It’s easy to cut us, we are an easy thing to hit,” he said.

Dooley, who was speaking to The Stage at a gala performance marking 13 years of West End show Stomp, also applauded actor Jessica Hynes on her BAFTA acceptance speech last weekend, during which she urged people to back emerging talent and expressed concerns about the impact of cuts on low-income families.

He said her speech had been cut for the broadcast of the awards, which he described as “wrong” and added: “I don’t like this idea that just because you’re on telly or in theatre or a musician then you are not supposed to have an opinion on life or speak up for your beliefs and opinions and pin your colours to your chest and be proud of them.”

Speaking about the current debate in the industry about the lack of working-class actors in the sector, he said that the perception that only people from wealthy backgrounds are succeeding is to do with what is “fashionable at the time”.

“You go through times, especially in television, where everything is gritty and from the provinces and outside of London. Then you go through times where all they want is posh boys with flowing locks,” he said, adding: “I found it hard starting off… but I think if I was starting now it would be a lot harder. Kids from where I am from can’t get funding [for training] or they leave with £50,000 debt when they have done it. Is that something you are going to take on, for a whim of possibly working? I don’t think it is.”

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