Comment: This is What Happens When You Cut The Arts
Words: Jade French
In the middle of ‘austerity’ what do people want to stand in front of?
A government who slashes public services and the arts – as if they aren’t interlinked – is a government who does not understand the importance of the culture. David Cameron can stand in as many One Direction videos as he likes, it only serves to outline what is classed as an ‘artistic endeavour’ in his eyes. Big productions, big names, stars that can blind you so you don’t notice the rubble of culture building up…
Who needs grass-roots arts organisations, making a tiny film about a tiny area when you can watch Bruce Willis blowing up buildings, forging a tender relationship with his son?
Who needs a new piano concerto or a timid but talented singer/songwriter when Destiny’s Child have a reunion tour planned, and anyway – if the kids want to make music they have YouTube now, that could make you an instant hit just like Justin Beiber!
Who needs small theatres, writers sitting in coffee shops, performance artists doing strange things with their genitals, artists plastering paint on canvas, Tumblr art, multi-media fusions, dance and movement and the freedom to create
… Who needs poetry when we have Keats plastered up on the tube?
The arts cuts might not have an impact right this second; it might take years to see the effects. And what’s the point when you can have a quick fix – put a new twist on aShakespeare play (Hamlet in jeans, anyone?) or descend to a reality tv-talent-show (even Saatchi did one) and search back catalogues so they become the breeding ground to finding what’s new and exciting…
It seems cynical to relate art to money – but it isn’t that. People will create amazing things in their spare time: working as waitresses, behind tills and bars with their portfolios tucked neatly under their arm, struggling to pay their rent let alone find the capital to showcase their work . If there is nobody to help raise the platform how can this talent be recognised?
Funding, to a lot of people, means freedom – talented people are not always lucky enough to be born into comfortable surroundings, A Room of One’s Own is often hard to find.
Without the grass roots you cannot grow branches, and you can’t spread the arts to other sectors, without theatre you would have no film, without novels there would be no narrative, without music no dancing, without art no release.
The message the arts cuts send out are worse than the taking away of funding. It sends a message that those in power don’t value the power of art; it’s ability to comment and evoke emotion.
The cuts say: don’t bother trying, you won’t get anywhere. They say: there’s no value in art, there’s no money to be made, no worth to what you do.
Austerity doesn’t mean we have to shut off our art supply, if anything it means we have to turn the tap fully and stand in front of our own creative ability and be proud, do it anyway, do it ourselves.