Joseph Fiennes and Mark Gatiss call for more arts funding at Olivier Awards

Joseph Fiennes and Mark Gatiss both called for more arts funding while on the green carpet at the Olivier Awards.

The Handmaid’s Tale star Fiennes, who played England manager Gareth Southgate in Dear England, faces competition from Sherlock star Gatiss for his performance in The Motive And The Cue in the best actor category at the ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall.

Fiennes told the PA news agency that theatre should not be seen as “an elitist form” because it was “for everybody”.

The Royal Television Society Programme Awards
Mark Gatiss called for the arts to be ‘much more accessible’ (Ian West/PA)

He added: “The National Theatre (where Dear England was staged) belongs to everyone, ticket prices … getting that right is so, so important and getting government funding, which is great.”

Fiennes welcomed the Government tax breaks but said greater work was required, adding that the arts were “underfunded” and “always more” needed doing.

Gatiss agreed, saying: “There’s a lot of sort of negative publicity about this, because people just sort of look at the obvious as it were – it is extremely expensive to see a play in the West End, but the National, for instance, 50% of their tickets are under 50 quid.

“And they do the Friday night rush for 10 quid and stuff like that.

“So there’s a lot of great work going on but then it’s extremely expensive to put on shows and that’s the extraordinary thing, is theatre … as being elitist when it used to be … the people’s choice and I suppose we need to try and get as close to that as we can again.”

Olivier Awards 2024 – London
Former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger is up for the best actress in a musical gong (Ian West/PA)

He called for the arts to be “much more accessible” and added that it should not be caught up in the “culture war”.

“It’s not an elitist thing. It makes an unbelievable amount of money for the economy and it’s not a luxury, it’s what people consume every single day of their lives, whether it’s TV or film or theatre, it’s essential to our well-being, and I think you can’t regard it as being any kind of elitist thing – we have to try and keep it in the hands of the people.”

Former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, Succession actress Sarah Snook, Happy Valley star James Norton and Doctor Who actor David Tennant had all arrived for the ceremony.

Scherzinger, who had a critically acclaimed performance as a Hollywood star spiralling into mental illness in Sunset Boulevard at London’s Savoy Theatre, is up for the best actress in a musical gong, with Celebrity Big Brother star Marisha Wallace for Guys & Dolls among her competitors.