Merchant hits out at Cowell over death of Britain’s culture

STEPHEN Merchant has warned that if support isn’t given to independent and vibrant centres like the ArtsDepot, Simon Cowell and his plethora of reality shows will “nail the coffin closed on our cultural heritage.”

After hearing about the total funding cuts from Barnet Council to ArtsDepot, Mr Merchant told the Ham&High: “It may seem like supporting new theatre and music and dance and comedy are not vital for the well-being of this country, but if we continue to let places like the ArtsDepot disappear, we’re going to wake up one day and find our greatest artistic achievement is a dancing dog on Britain’s Got Talent.

“And Simon Cowell will be nailing the coffin closed on our cultural heritage.”

Mr Merchant chose the venue for his much anticipated return to stand-up comedy after writing and co-directing The Office and Extras.

The sell-out week long run in October 2009 saw Mr Merchant developing new material for a new live show.

Despite being miles from central London, the arts centre has made its mark on the cultural life of London with many high profile acts choosing it as a low-key venue perfect for trying out new work.

Ricky Gervais, Ruby Wax and Michael Morpurgo have also performed at the centre.