There is Art deficit. We are lacking in creativity. Access to creativity. Platforms of creativity. Money is tight. Pinched pockets and cinched tighter then ever creating Art almost seems impossible at times.
Lets change Art to Medicine. Imagine that there is a Medicine deficit. No one wants to see a doctor. No one want to hear what she has to say. She sits there. Frustrated and lost and poor. Does she give up and go and work in a call centre or does she understand that as a doctor she has a greater purpose to keep people in good health. Take a look at the hospitals of Aleppo in Syria, there are doctors fighting for their communities lives. They could leave and be safe. But they stay to protect the people that they serve. If they leave, what will happen to victims of bombs and building collapses and shrapnel wounds? They stay seeing that they are needed.
Lets change it back to Art. We have to put the breaks on in the face of the devaluing of the Arts. We have to stay and fight, engage people in the act of creativity or what will we be?
Our society will resemble some kind of dystopian future. There will be no need for words, because self expression has been limited. Windows would be deemed unnecessary. The outside world untouched, spoilt by the erosion and climate change occurring in the planet by previous generations. You don’t need to look at a barren wasteland. The outside world has nothing about it. There is no oxygen. Trees are all gone. A points system in place where academics collect the highest numbers. Everyone else becomes a drone in the machine that keeps society functioning. That is it. Function. That is all that is left. Art has become irrelevant. Somewhere in these communities are Artists who fight to create. To reflect the world around them.
Its to easy to say, I’m not working for free. I’m not making Art for free. A doctor wouldn’t so why should I? A doctor would though. He would work for free in order to keep people alive and healthy. A doctor would do this if there was no other option. We all need an income to pay our bills, feed our children, keep a roof over our heads. Can we really not offer a percentage of our time for free to keep creativity alive?
The arts need protecting for blood sucking vultures who think it is acceptable to not pay artists appropriately. I am the first to say, that being paid for your work is important. However, sometimes we have to take a look at the bigger picture and find a way to create work that is isn’t paid in line with what you would expect. Take a leap, I strongly believe that in the long run you will gain more back then you are giving away.
In a world of cuts it is hard to feel validation in your process as an artist. It is hard to feel that you are contributing to the world in a way that people feel is visible. Who can argue the power of the arts if it is being whittled away? First came the cuts to the big established companies, then the cuts to the companies in their middle years. Then came the cuts to emerging work. Now there are cuts in the education system, social security and to our beloved institution -the NHS. A phrase often mention is you can judge a society by which it treats its weakest members. The sick, the poor, the jobless, the prisoners are some examples of who the previous sentence encapsulates. But this could also be the group of people who don’t fit into the model of education that is currently available in this country. While many show academic qualities in their character, how many people really benefit from our current education system?
And now for the Arts. Creativity is a source of wonder. Its not that the world necessarily needs more artists or writers or performers (or maybe it does?). Practicing creativity is an opportunity to explore personal boundaries, confidence, the act of creating. You can make friends, build community and improve team work. How is creativity really being made accessible. It is being withdrawn from education both at primary and secondary level. Theatre tickets are sky high. Many people are overstretched and over worked to feel like they have space to go to a class or a choir.
Artists themselves are increasingly finding it difficult to create work in this climate. We have to review the way that we do things. We have to see this as an opportunity to shift direction and reflect on what we are being presented with. We can’t stay in our studios or our studies or our theatres and ask people to come to us. We need to go out to the communities that surround us and show people the restorative power of creativity.
37% of voters in the UK voted for the winning party at the last election. A party that sees the arts as unimportant or irrelevant to the people it serves. Art can make sense of things in a way that politics or religion cannot. There are no taboo subjects, an artist is free to discuss the issues that arise around them. There is no agenda. How much of the population really believe that the arts is not important? 66% of the voting population turned up to vote (http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/chartists/contemporarycontext/electionturnout/) . Only 37% of those voters, voted for a government that has being unbelievably vicious to the Arts, Health care and Education. This is a plea to say do not be disheartened by politicians and press. You know the value of creativity. Do not let it be undermined. Please keep sharing your work with the world and inviting your community into your process.
So pick up your pen or your brush, your needle or your music and find the people who want to make stuff happen. Share your knowledge with those around you. Take a step out into the community, your community and show them why the Arts matter. If we do not engage the public in creativity, then we as artists are letting down our communities and giving in too easily. If a doctor stopped attending to patients because he felt people didn’t value his care then we would be utterly disgruntled and upset with this behaviour. If we stop creating art, then no one is going to see the point in it, because no art is being created!
Times are tough, pockets can feel threadbare, but find a way to make your work and share it. The world needs us. Start with I am here. How can I help?