What we fight for defines us

The last couple of weeks have been eventful on the national cultural stage.

The Arts Council released which organisations will receive funding and those that will be cut and the Government announces it will be selling civic historic assets as they are expensive to keep. With such short sighted and drastic decisions based on the current economic situation what can we expect for the future? Leading figures have written to the Prime Minister urging consideration for a policy of long term investment in the arts warning that current levels of cuts will lead to lasting damage to the public and social benefits of culture (signatories include Sir Richard Eyre, Royal Opera HOuse Managing Director Tony Hall and Southbank Centre artistic director Judy Kelly)

Eyre warned there could be “cutural apartheid” as the gap between those with access to the arts and those without widens.

“Arts are not ethical medicine…they are weapons of happiness” Richard Eyre

Judith Knight of Artsadmin said that the pressure on the government needed to come directly from the electorate. Noting the outcry that plans to privatise British forests, she said “can you imagine that kind of outpouring for the arts?” It is hard to imagine, people marching on London about the cuts putting arts at the top. We need to think more broadly than our own wellbeing however and lead the way.

“We should be thinking about the kind of society we want to have and taking steps to get as close to it as we can” said David Lan artistic director of the Young Vic.

This is what I find really worrying, in times of pressure and financial squeese it is easy to lose sight of what one actually values, people make decisions about what affects them and alturistic gestures seem harder to find. Even if not much changes in our day to day lives ones perspective of what is possible is shifted and ambitious goals seem exactly that.

Winston Churchill’s Military advisor when cuts to the arts were suggested simply queried ‘well what are we fighting for then?’

We cannot say today what impact these arts cuts will have in the long term. If we have to measure everything in monetary value, it should be shouted about that the creative industries drive creativity and innovation in other areas and economic benefits outweigh the costs. The creative sector is one of the largest and Art is one of our most successful and proudest exports. But for how long? It speaks volumes that those at the top of our most established and impressive arts organisations and venues feel compelled to speak publicly, those whose business that it is feel this should be fought. Times are hard we find each day there will be losers, I just hope our culturally starved children can forgive us.

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