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UK News Damon Albarn: Government COVID-19 response has shown 'no empathy with the arts'

13:50  05 december  2020
13:50  05 december  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Damon Albarn has criticised the government in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it has shown "no empathy with the arts whatsoever".

Damon Albarn holding a guitar: Damon Albarn says the government has prioritised football over the arts during the pandemic © Getty Damon Albarn says the government has prioritised football over the arts during the pandemic

The Blur and Gorillaz star has called for music to be part of the "prescription" for the country's national health.

Damon Albarn sitting on a couch: Damon Albarn says the government has 'no empathy with the arts whatsoever' © Getty Damon Albarn says the government has 'no empathy with the arts whatsoever'

Speaking ahead of several virtual gigs, Albarn said: "This present government has no empathy with the arts whatsoever and sadly that is a really important part of British culture.

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Damon Albarn holding a guitar: The Gorillaz star says he loves football but it does not 'sustain' his 'soul' © PA The Gorillaz star says he loves football but it does not 'sustain' his 'soul'

"We live in a pretty (...) miserable country at times and we need our arts to uplift us.

"It should be part of the prescription for our national health."

The 52-year-old hit out at Number 10's focus on football as opposed to the creative industries.

He said: "Maybe a little less emphasis on the Premier League just running and a bit more love given to the arts would be a start because, I'm sorry, I love football as much as anybody else but football alone does not sustain my soul."

a group of people performing on stage in front of a building: The Gorillaz have formed a bubble to prepare for a series of virtual gigs combining live music with animation © Getty The Gorillaz have formed a bubble to prepare for a series of virtual gigs combining live music with animation

The artist, who has spoken out against Brexit several times, attacked the government's treatment of the North of England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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If Covid - 19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.

To be honest, I have known something very strange has been going on with the UK data for some time. You would think the Government would be pulling out all the stops to decrease the number of What is now happening is extremely disturbing. Covid - 19 has certainly been a serious disease


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Albarn said: "Who on Earth would leave the EU after what has happened this year? It's madness. No one would do that in their right mind, would they? But we are doing it.

"It's gone beyond being angry about it. It's just 'okay, alright then'.

"I hope the North of England is slowly waking up to the fact they backed the wrong horse as far as thinking the Conservatives were going to have their back.

"I hope they are going to realise what a mistake they made."

The musician and his fellow Gorillaz bandmates have formed a bubble in order to rehearse ahead of their three online concerts this month.

Albarn and the group's animator Jamie Hewlet will blend live music with illustrations across the shows - with guests from their seventh studio album, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, in the performances.

Sir Elton John, The Cure star Robert Smith, rapper Slowthai and Peter Hook from New Order all feature on the virtual band's star-studded new work.

Albarn has described the upcoming shows as a potential "game-changer" for both the Gorillaz and the music industry as a whole.

He said: "If we get this right it will be a game-changer. No-one has ever done anything like this before.

"But I hasten to add there is a huge potential for things to go wrong. When you have cartoons and live music trying to happen at the same time, it's (…) mad really."

Song Machine Live From Kong takes place on 12 December at 11am at midnight, and on 13 December at 7pm.

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