Hamilton star Rachel John has hit out at cuts to the arts in education, arguing that children from disadvantaged backgrounds will no longer be exposed to drama and music.
John told The Stage that her own interest in performing was sparked by discounted theatre trips and free cello lessons at school.
She was speaking at an event at the Hospital Club in London, celebrating the nominees of the WhatsOnStage Awards 2019. John is nominated in the best supporting actress in a musical category for her role in Hamilton.
“[Arts education cuts] really do concern me. I’m first-generation black British, my parents came over here in the 1970s to help with the National Health Service and there were things I couldn’t afford, like going to see a show, because we didn’t have disposable income,” she said.
She added: “So it was school that introduced me to drama, letting us go on trips for a reduced price, and also me being able to pick up a cello and play it for free, until they cut funding.
“Once they cut funding I had to give up the cello, which is one of the biggest regrets of my life because it introduced me to musicality.”
John argued that if young people could not gain exposure to the theatre, music or visual arts through school then they might never “have their interest sparked” and would not know that a career in the arts is possible.
She added: “I also have friends that do art and music therapy – there are so many branches – and there are a lot of studies about music being healing. It’s bigger than us [in the theatre industry] so we shouldn’t reduce it to standing up there and dancing.”