- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Some of Britain’s best-known actors and directors say the government’s cuts to arts spending is the biggest threat to country’s arts and culture in decades.

Actors Jeremy Irons, Kenneth Branagh, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters and writer-director Mike Leigh are among dozens others who signed a protest letter published in The Observer newspaper Sunday.

Cuts applied to cultural authorities are expected to deal a blow to funding for smaller, subsidized performance venues across the country.

They wrote: “We must remember that many of our most internationally recognized artists … started in regional theaters and small arts venues.”