Ed Sheeran Slams Government Over Education Funding Cuts

3 July 2024 | 11:53 am | Ellie Robinson

“No one is proud that we make arms and no one is proud that our banking’s really good, but they are proud of our art.”

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran (Credit: Annie Leibovitz)

More Ed Sheeran More Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran has blasted the UK’s Conservative government for ignoring the importance of the arts in funding the public education system.

Sheeran is one of the UK’s biggest musical success stories, notably learning the bulk of his skills while he attended state-funded schooling in Suffolk.

In a new interview for Theo Von’s podcast This Past Weekend (as transcribed by NME), the singer-songwriter explained that for the past seven years, he’s been personally funding the art, music and drama programs at his local high school: “Basically in 2017/ 2018, my old music teacher came to me and he was like, ‘Look, the government that is currently in charge do not value art at all – arts, drama, music – and they cut all the funding for comprehensive high schools.

“So my music teacher came to me and was going, I think they had to share between art, music and drama, like £700 [$1,330 AUD] per year for all three subjects. So I started funding that at my local high school. And then you see a massive uptick in kids doing production, kids doing songwriting, kids doing this.”

Sheeran went on to say that he “built a recording studio” at the school, where there are “loads of proper instruments that aren’t broken” – something he vouches led to the school “getting better at music”. It encouraged him to spread his philanthropic efforts beyond the one school, as he continued: “I started doing that in the county that I’m from. And we’ve just now changed it to do it nationwide. And I’m now visiting more high schools and places that really need music funding.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“You see what a difference it makes, too. Because I’m not an academic person and in the real world I would be viewed as stupid, but I excelled at music and therefore people think that I’m good at something.”

It’s well established that the UK has delivered some of the most iconic art in modern history – but its government, currently headed up by controversial and notedly regressive Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, doesn’t care to support the industry behind it with tangible resources.

Sheeran continued in his interview with Von: “We’re famous for music with The Beatles. We’re famous for painting. Damien Hurst. We’re famous for movies. You’ve got Danny Boyle coming out of here [and] Christopher Nolan. And the government is just putting importance on maths and banking and we make arms, but no one is proud that we make arms and no one is proud that our banking’s really good, but they are proud of our art.

“And so for a government to be like. ‘The art doesn’t matter,’ where do you think the art [is] going to come from? So the next part of my career is getting proper, proper funding and art, music, drama back into schools – and actually Ireland do a very good job of it.

Sheeran also shared the opinion that if Labour is elected in to take over the Conservative Party (with a general election due to be held tomorrow, July 4), funding for the public education system will improve. He added: “I’m doing what I can to get funding for [the arts in state schools]. But I think getting the new government will be better at it. But the thing that, that’s kind of what I want to segue into is music education. It worked so well for me and I know it can work so well for other kids. I’m kind of proof that normal kids can just pick up guitars, work hard and do it.”

See the full interview below:

Meanwhile, Sheeran’s song Eyes Closed was recently revealed to be the second most popular song on Australian radio for 2023. And his long-teased collaboration with Cradle Of Filth is inching closer to its release, as the band recently confirmed it “very well may see the light of day” on their next album.