Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has been accused of ‘turning a deaf ear’ to the culture sector after announcing a programme of job protection measures which many say will not help those within the arts.
The measures include a scheme to top the wages of salaried workers and extend the self employed income support scheme at a reduced level of 20%. No sector specific measures were announced and the Chancellor declared help must be targeted towards ‘viable jobs which provide genuine security’, which many see as yet another oversight of the struggling arts sector.
Adding insult to injury for many in the culture sector, Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, suggested that workers who are currently in sectors which are unable to reopen, such as theatre, should be helped into ‘better jobs’
Is there anything the Conservative government won’t try and destroy? The NHS, public transport, water, electricity, gas, the military and now the arts. Is nothing off limits to them?
There really seems to be a sense within the Tory psyche that if they don’t like it or they don’t see value in it then it must be destroyed at all costs, forget the fact there are people who’s livelihoods and very survival depend on the arts sector, if the tories don’t like it then they will crush it and tell everyone to find a ‘better job’
What ‘better job’? If you keep destroying the very fabric of society then there will be no jobs to go to, or is that the aim?!
There will be those of you out there who will say that ‘it’s only theatre, it’s only the arts, it doesn’t really matter, we need to make the country economically strong again through industry and agriculture. We can do with out people poncing around the stage and some layabout claiming that a half tonne of carrots dumped in a room is ‘art’.’
Ok fine, lets get rid of the arts then, lets sack all the actors and make them work in factories, lets redeploy the artists to work in the fields, lets just throw away the £10.8billion the arts industry contributes to the UK economy each year, lets not bother with the £2.8billion going to the Treasury. Yes! The arts industry pay more tax per year than Conservative Party donors! This attack on the arts sector by the Tories is about as nuanced as a clown in a minefield and is yet another attempt to kick a fatigued public while they are down!
Without culture, without the arts, we as humans are nothing. Our ability to appreciate and understand culture and the arts is what distinguishes us from animals. The arts are civilisation, the arts are our very being.
If you think we can do without the arts and culture then stop your Netflix subscriptions, stop your Spotify payments, stop going to the cinema, stop listening to music, delete YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. The list is endless. See how you cope without entertainment.
The arts aren’t just about the ‘fancy’ things like Ballet, Opera and Shakespeare, the arts and culture sector exist within every pore of life, the Soaps you like to watch, the music you like to listen to, even that bit of graffiti on the local underpass you admire, it’s all arts and culture brought to you by people with an arts education and who have a deep love for their craft.
Yes the arts are badly paid, yes there are ‘better jobs’ out there, but the people within the arts do the job because they love their craft and they want to pass that onto others and without them and without the arts we are poorer as a species. We need the arts and we must fight for its survival.