Leading figures from the UK arts scene – from musician Dizzee Rascal to novelist Martin Amis – have signed an open letter addressed to the Scott Trust urging it safeguard the future of The Observer.
Guardian Media Group, which is owened by the Scott Trust, is currently considering a range of cost-cutting options aimed at curbing mounting losses for the Guardian and Observer titles.
The admission that closing The Observer is one of the options that has been under consideration has prompted Press Gazette and the National Union of Journalists to both launch campaigns aimed at safeguarding the title. On Monday, comedian David Mitchell is hosting a star-studded Stand up for the Observer public meeting, from 7pm at the Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London.
Now some 50 leading figures from the arts have added their weight to the campaign to save the title. Other signatories include:novelist Iain Banks, actors Simon Callow and Colin Firth, director Stephen Frears, former Observer editor Donald Trelford and journalist Francis Wheen.
The letter states:
“We are aware that soon you will meet to discuss the future of the Observer, and whether to extinguish the great Sunday paper or, by the process of further integration, to subsume it into the Guardian.
“As the widest read liberal Sunday newspaper, and winner of Newspaper of the Year in the Press Awards as recently as 2007, we believe the Observer makes a vital contribution to Britain’s political, social and cultural life, with powerful writing, and a distinctive take on cinema, theatre, literature and the arts. Most importantly of all, it’s a great read.
“We have no doubt you take that very seriously and appreciate the importance of the Sunday paper whose future rests in your hands. We wanted to write and ask you to safeguard The Observer as a title but also to maintain its editorial independence and distinct voice, with sufficient separate resource to allow it to compete successfully in a competitive market.
“Thank you for your attention.”
The signatories are:
- Aravind Adiga, Booker prize-winning novelist
- Damon Albarn, Singer, songwriter and producer
- Martin Amis, Novelist
- Neal Ascherson, Journalist
- Iain Banks, Novelist
- Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder and director of Kids Company
- Alistair Beaton, Satirist and novelist
- Sanjeev Bhaskar, Comedian and actor
- Rory Bremner, Impressionist and satirist
- Simon Callow, Actor
- Jeremy Dyson, Screenwriter
- Colin Firth, Actor
- Livia Firth, Scriptwriter
- Michael Frayn, Playwright and novelist
- Stephen Frears, Director
- Sean French, Writer
- Maggie Gee, Novelist
- Nicci Gerrard, Writer
- Professor A C Grayling, Philosopher
- Lavinia Greenlaw, Poet and novelist
- Jamie Hewlett, Comic book artist and co-creator of the band Gorillaz
- Liz Jensen, Novelist
- Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society
- Peter Kosminsky – Director, Actor and Producer
- Neil LaBute – Director, Screenwriter and Playwright
- Nigella Lawson – Food writer and broadcaster
- David Mitchell – Comedian, actor and writer
- Deborah Moggach – Novelist and screenwriter
- David Morrissey – Actor
- Barry Norman – Film critic and author
- David Peace – Author
- Michael Pennington – Actor
- Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to Tony Blair
- Lord David Puttnam – Producer and Labour peer
- Dizzee Rascal, Musician and record producer
- Simon Russell Beale – Actor
- Sally Sampson, widow of the late Anthony Sampson
- John Sauven, Director of Greenpeace
- Alexandra Shulman, Editor of Vogue
- Lord Robert Skidelsky, Historian, economist and author
- Emma Soames, Editor of Saga Magazine
- Iain Softley, Director
- Juliet Stevenson, Actress
- Meera Syal, Comedian and actor
- Lord Dick Taverne, Politician and Author
- Donald Trelford, Former editor The Observer
- Samuel West, Actor and Director
- Francis Wheen, Journalist and author