Gormley looks to Japan in call for business to back arts

British business could learn from its Japanese counterpart’s “absolute belief’’ in supporting the arts, according to the sculptor, Antony Gormley.

The Angel of the North artist praised the Japanese culture of philanthropy and said large corporations in the country had “an absolute belief in the duty of corporate money to reinvest in [a] collective future’’.

He added: “There are examples in this country but there could be more.’’

The 53-year-old, whose works include the giant Angel of the North and Another Place – made up of 100 cast iron figures on a Merseyside beach – is one of this year’s winners of £100,000 Praemium Imperiale arts award, which is supported by the Japanese royal family.

He said both countries shared a certain “shy’’ quality, saying: “The stiff upper lip might be shared by both a Samurai warrior as well as a Victorian member of parliament.

“Underneath that reserve there is enormous passion and intelligence and often that’s expressed in very, very extraordinary ways.’’

The award for architecture went to David Chipperfield, who designed the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate and Mr Gormley’s north London studio.

Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust and an international adviser to the £100,000 prize fund, said: “Every year we are delighted to honour five more remarkable artists but it is particularly gratifying to have British sculpture and architecture so well represented in this 25th anniversary year.’’

He said he hoped the success of British winners would be seen as proof of the UK’s “creative vitality’’, adding: “I hope the government, and all governments, recognise the contribution which that creative vitality makes economically.

“It’s not the main reason for it, my God, and to have to argue for the arts in so utilitarian terms is deeply depressing.’’

Other winners at the annual event include singer Plácido Domingo, who won the music award, and film director Francis Ford Coppola. They will accept their awards at a ceremony in Japan on October 16.

Past winners include Dame Judi Dench, David Hockney and Richard Attenborough.

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