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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 March, 2005, 15:03 GMT
Jude Law defends theatre company
Jude Law and Matt Lucas
Jude Law and Matt Lucas began their careers with the theatre group
Actor Jude Law has teamed up with comic Matt Lucas to attack a "deplorable" Arts Council decision not to fund a youth theatre company.

They said National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT), which launched their careers, is in danger of closing after being denied a 100,000 government grant.

"If the Arts Council cannot see the value of the NYMT's work, we emphatically do," they wrote.

An Arts Council spokeswoman said it did not comment on funding applications.

'Distinguished record'

Law and Lucas criticised the decision in a letter to The Times newspaper, also signed by actor Jonny Lee Miller, Mary Poppins star Laura-Michelle Kelly, ex-Busted guitarist James Bourne and former S Club 7 singer Hannah Spearritt.

"The NYMT has a highly distinguished record of achievement and performance accumulated over the past 28 years," they wrote. "We deplore the decision of the Arts Council."

The theatre company stages workshops, drama courses and productions throughout the UK and it is said to require 50,000 to remain viable.

They have irresponsibly led us along
Maggie Semple,
National Youth Music Theatre
Its chairman Maggie Semple said an Arts Council-commissioned review initially recommended a "substantial" award for the company.

"They encouraged us to go through this lengthy process," she said. "They commissioned this report, and at the end of all that, 14 months later, they're now saying 'no'."

"If they had told us nine or even six months ago we wouldn't have made the plans that we have," Ms Semple added. "They have irresponsibly led us along."

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