If anyone needs to retrain it’s them shower of CUNTZ c’mon you know LG x
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) October 6, 2020
Facing the prospect of unemployment is scary at any time, but during a global pandemic it is even scarier – the world as we know it has changed, work environments have changed, the usual way you would go about finding work has changed. Adapting is unavoidable, change is inevitable; but what happens if the career that you have worked so hard to be in essentially disappears over night? This has happened to so many thousands of performers with the arts industry.
Yesterday Rishi Sunak was quoted as saying the following: ‘ I can’t pretend that everyone can do the same job that they were doing at the beginning of the crisis’ He was asked if he was suggesting that some of the UK’s ‘fabulous musicians, artists and actors’ should get another job, he replied with ‘as in all walks of life everyone’s having to adapt…Everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality’.
Some people may see Sunak’s remarks as flippant, some may argue that people within the arts are over reacting, but the continued dismissal of the arts community appears common place within Conservative values. Art’s is an afterthought, it is not seen as a productive use of time. By suggesting that someone should simply change their job is suggesting that 1) It wasn’t worth that much to begin with and 2) That in this ‘new Jerusalem’ that Boris is promising, the arts have no place within it. Since the pandemic started, creative arts has not received as bigger bail outs as many other sectors. They were very late to receive any confirmation of what help they would receive and many believed that the arts community was an afterthought. This is sadly not new and this government has, alongside so many sectors, continually made cuts and attempted to diminish its potential. This government (under the coalition in 2010) cut the Arts Council England budget by 30% while local authority support was shattered by conservative austerity measures. Contrary to what many believe, British performing arts organisations tend to receive only 20-30% of their funding from public sources. The rest is earned, largely from ticket sales.
To diminish creativity would be disastrous, without creativity we lose so many things that we love. Ok, so right now we might not feel comfortable going to packed arenas to see a show, but without support today many artists won’t get the chance to perform tomorrow.
Imagine building your working life around performance on stage, relying on an active, engaged audience. To have all future shows cancelled, all planned revenue for the year gone. This does not just affect the people performing on stage what happens to the thousands of people employed in stage production, events management and theatre staff – their lives have been turned upside down. Furlough has stopped apparently it is time to get back to work…what if your job no longer exists? Apparently we can all stop social distancing in October 2021 – what happens until then?
I, like many others I’m sure, did not know just how much revenue the arts sector contributed to the UK economy. According to arts council.org.uk the arts and culture has grown £390million in a year and now contributes £10.8billion a year to the UK economy. The sector contributes £2.8billion a year to the Treasury via taxation, and generates a further £23billion a year and 363,700 jobs. Productivity in the arts and culture industry between 2009 and 2016 was greater than that of the economy as a whole, with the gross value added per worker at £62,000 for arts and culture, compared to £46,800 for the wider UK economy. (These facts and figures were correct as of April 2019.)
With these figures in mind, the 2020 pandemic and the closure of so many thriving theatres, shows and musical events, is a huge blow for the UK economy. Even though I didn’t know all the figures until I did some research (a simple google search FYI) I would expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to understand its worth. It is worrying that the response to this sector has been so slow. According to The Independent ‘many in the culture sector feel the industry has been largely left to fend for itself. Over the past six months, several popular independent music venues have been forced to close, while other arts venues have launched fundraisers in a desperate bid to stay afloat amid the pandemic’
I know many people have needed help but this whole sector has been largely overlooked and dismissed. This reaction is extremely dangerous and extremely damaging to our economy.
Let’s just hope that by yet another bumbling oversight and badly judged comment that it can shine a light onto yet another failing from our government. My hope is that the reaction will wake them up and shame them into action. Perhaps publicly being called a ‘little turd’ by Liam Gallagher, and being told to ‘shove my records up his arse’ by Badly Drawn Boy, will embarrass Rishi Sunak into taking anther look…
Ian Rankin very succinctly analysed this with his tweet ‘Without the arts, our lives are impoverished. This is nuts.’