One of Britain’s legendary leading actors and major international film star John Hurt has told of his distress and sadness at the threatened closure of the National Media Museum.
Mr Hurt, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Bradford International Film Festival, joined Monty Python star Terry Jones in criticising the moves to potentially close the museum in the face of drastic Government funding cuts and backed the Telegraph & Argus campaign to save it.
The stars are part of a growing chorus of celebrities, film experts and business leaders joining the T&A campaign to save the museum, which is under threat along with the National Rail Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester after parent group, the Science Museum Group, warned that one could close if a spending review this month proved one cut too many.
It is believed a final decision on the museum’s future will be made by the autumn.
The National Media Museum contributes more than £24 million a year to the Bradford economy in purchases made by museum visitors in local cafes and shops across the city. It provides about 100 jobs which add an extra £3.7 million to the city’s economy.
Mr Hurt was told the news while he was on his way to Budapest and sent the following message.
“I am shocked to hear of the possible closure of the National Media Museum in Bradford, the world’s first Unesco City of Film,” he said.
“The continuation of the Bradford Film Festival, now in it’s 20th year and established as an important event on the international film calender, would also be under threat.
“It is deeply distressing that despite this worldwide recognition, at a national level there is still reluctance to acknowledge the importance of preserving our cultural heritage of which film and television are an enormous part.
“I am saddened for the world community of film makers and for the city of Bradford which would be hugely affected by the loss of such a significant asset.”
The double Oscar-nominated star of films such as Midnight Express, The Elephant Man, The Naked Civil Servant and 1984, added: “Bradford is a natural place to have a film festival, especially as it has got more cosmopolitan.”
In the past few years Mr Hurt has demonstrated his support for Bradford. He readily agreed to play a part in a stage adaptation of George Orwell’s novel 1984, put on by Bradford theatre company Paper Zoo in June 2009.
Fellow actor Terry Jones added: “The threat to close the National Media Museum in Bradford is a threat too far.
“We should fight it and try to keep the National Media Museum open for all.”
He backed the T&A’s campaign and urged others to do their bit to Stop the Cut.
Meanwhile, Bradford-born blues guitarist and singer-songwriter John Verity added: “Where’s all that spirit gone, the spirit that I saw in 1985 after the Bradford City fire?”
John, who in his career played with Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr, Janis Joplin, and Argent, was instrumental in organising the fire disaster fundraising concert at St George’s Hall. He also sang on Gerry Marsden’s fundraising record You’ll Never Walk Alone.
“It doesn’t make sense, that’s my gut feeling. Bradford is not a backwater. It’s a special place. I was really proud of the way people reacted after the fire, people who had nothing gave everything. That’s the spirit I’m talking about,” he added.
“The Museum is a special place and it should be staying in Bradford. I do a lot of travelling and when people find out I’m from Bradford they invariably mention the museum. It’s a positive thing they say about Bradford which is nice to hear. I will do whatever I can to support the campaign,” he added.
Former Coronation Street actor Steve Huison called the museum the “jewel in Bradford’s crown”.
“It puts us on the map,” Mr Huison added. “But what sickens me the most about it is the fact that again services are being taken away by this Government.
“Who has to pay? The working class people in places like Bradford. Deplete the North and make it a barren wasteland. It isn’t a white elephant, there are excellent resources there for everybody.”