For months, students in the UK have been protesting the coalition government's attempt to raise annual tuition fees at universities. Now a coalition of more than 90 artists, musicians and creative figures have come together to make a statement of solidarity with young protesters and to offer cash to pay fines for civil disobedience convictions. The coalition list includes Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn and Rachel Whiteread; Clash's Mick Jones, Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, and Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes; and fashion designer Stella McCartney.
The campaign, taking the name “Can't pay your fees? We'll pay your fines!”, has been spearheaded by Jake Chapman who says: “I don't really believe it's an austerity measure. I think it's at the very root of right-wing thinking which is to disempower social mobility.”
Chapman is realistic about the meaning of the gesture: “if paying the fines mocks the judicial system and the Government, then it is worth doing it,” he says. “And there is no other reason. If you think about it, we can't expunge those kids criminal records, so the fine is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effect on their futures. But for people like me who believe in state education, and education for all as an absolute fundamental principle, there is nothing else I can do other than support it in this way.”
You can read a feature on Chapman in the Evening Standard here.