​Kneecap consider legal action after arts funding “blocked” by UK government

today13/02/2024 7

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Belfast rap trio, Kneecap, have released a statement to Twitter claiming they are being silenced by the UK government, after having an arts council funding application revoked.

According to their statement, the band’s application for the ‘Music Export Growth Scheme’ [MEGS] had been approved and granted, but was later “blocked and overruled” by the UK government.

Kneecap claim they had been told their 2019 “Farewell to the Union” tour poster “pissed off the Tories.”

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch’s spokesperson reportedly said “we fully support freedom of speech, but it’s hardly surprising that we don’t want to hand out UK taxpayers’ money to people that oppose the United Kingdom itself”.

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Colum Eastwood, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party submitted questions to Badenoch on her decision, The Irish Times reports.

Art is “meant to be challenging” Mr Eastwood countered, and it is not necessary to “agree with an artist or group to understand the importance of funding creators who challenge the status quo and the establishment”.

Mr Eastwood highlighted that “It would be unacceptable if the British government had instituted a policy of defunding groups because they support Irish unity, Scottish independence, Welsh independence or any other change to the constitutional status quo.”

Government-backed initiative MEGS can grant musicians up to £50,000 to boost their international careers.

Recipients of the MEGS grant include the likes of Dave, Jungle, Rina Sawayama, Kae Tempest and 2023 Mercury Prize winners Ezra Collective.

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Delivery partner to MEGS, BPI told the Irish Times they were “disappointed” by the government’s decision to block KNEECAP from funding after their independent selection board had voted for the group in the latest round of funding applications. applications,” a spokesperson told Irish Times.

“we firmly believe in the importance of freedom of expression, including artistic expression, and look forward to discussing further with the government how any decisions involving potentially controversial matters will be handled in future,” they added.

Mixmag has contacted representatives of Kneecap for comment.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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