I grew up around creative people.
My parents were reggae artists, my brothers are singers and my sister is a writer. Creativity was always seen as being a big part of everyday life, and something to be valued. I became a dance teacher because I love dance and the performing arts, and I love teaching.
So the war on the arts over the last five years has felt like a personal attack, on me and everyone who regards their creativity an essential part of their livelihood. Everyone has different skills and abilities. But although there is this perception of equality, that everyone regardless of their differences must be valued equally, that is not the case with creative people.
Those with a talent for science and mathematics or electrical and mechanics would find it mortifying to even take part in a performing arts class let alone be forced into find in a career in the industry. Yet talented creative people are forced into unsuitable careers every year. Not only do they have their family to convince it is worthwhile, but opportunities to train in a creative subject are being removed removed from schools and deemed as not something worth considering as a career path – rather a hobby.
We rely on the Creative Industries
The creative industries are painted as fickle, unpredictable and not worthy of dedicating time to train in. Yet it is enjoyed by millions of people every year, particularly by the middle and upper class. We are entertained by music almost everyday in some form. Architects build our cities, designers craft almost everything we see around us from physical items to online websites, performers move us emotionally on screen and stage, and writers engage our imaginations. When the world was looking at London during the Olympic ceremony, who did they have entertaining viewers during the opening and closing ceremonies? Mathematicians? Scientists? Politicians? No. Performing artists. (And most of them were not even paid).
The government would have you believe there is no money to be made in the arts and that it is only the very lucky 1% that can make enough to live comfortably in the arts but that’s not at all true. In 2014 it was reported that the creative industries generated 8 million pounds an hour and outperformed all other industries in the UK in terms of growth.
Restricting the Arts
If the arts are removed from public education, it will only be accessible to those able to pay for it. This means that it’ll only be accessible for certain people from certain backgrounds, who live in certain areas. This is unacceptable. It creates a stronger divide of class and perpetuates the issue of the lack of diversity in the arts. The next generation of young artists, from any background, should not have to pay to gain access to creative training.
If you want to be a creative in this time (or have children that want to be), you’ll be have to be determined. Choose your training wisely. Be persistent. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Don’t give up. Decide what kind of example you want to be to those who look up to you. Decide how you want to spend your working life. Support other creatives. Don’t give up!
And support the fight to keep creative subjects in public schools.
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