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Stewart urges U.K. politicians to curb arts funding cuts

Many arts initiatives are facing cutbacks as budgets are tightened in a bid to curb the country's spiralling debts.

But the X-Men star is adamant politicians should be cautious about plans to scale back the amount of money which is poured into cultural institutions, because theatre is a major attraction for visitors from overseas.

He tells Britain's The Independent, ""I don't think any recent Government can be smug about their relationship to the arts in England. (They have all) underestimated the sheer economic benefits that derive from it. It's never been fully appreciated or understood. Until it is, there will be tension. And presently of course with the... cutbacks it's going to be challenging if not life-threatening in some areas of live theatre. There is a failure to grasp how significant in terms of tourism and visitors live theatre in London can be.

""In terms of arts education that (underfunding) will certainly apply. Music theatre, dance art and so on. Eighteen to 24 year olds are going to feel this acutely. I think this is something the (government) has not grasped.""