Opinion | The Arts are important. Don't let the Tories tell you otherwise

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By Alice Clarke, Second Year, History

It is the opinion of many that arts are an expendable hobby, incomprehensible as a ‘proper career’. The Arts are understatedly important and should be celebrated, not pushed aside.

Last week, ITV reported that Rishi Sunak had suggested ‘musicians and others in the arts should retrain and find other jobs’. He later clarified that he had been talking about ‘all’ types of employment facing cuts and losses due to the pandemic.

However, not many callings face the same uncertainty and support that the Arts do; the Conservatives have failed to acknowledge and act on this and this is symptomatic of how the Arts are treated as a whole.

The Arts are understatedly important and should be celebrated, not pushed aside.

‘Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn't know it yet)’ declares government’s ‘Cyber First’ recruitment campaign, set to the backdrop of a ballerina lacing her slippers.

This campaign was originally launched in October of 2019. But the patronising sentiment of the campaign is too familiar. Indeed, it was met by the outrage of well-known creatives.

The Arts are not an indulgence or an afterthought. They are the livelihood and career of many, where one equates their importance to a career in STEM or not.

Perhaps we should ask: why are value and worth based so heavily on profit and financial gain?

Even if the music, theatre and art brought £0 to our economy, they are invaluable to all our lives. Unfortunately, profit and statistics is the language of the Conservative government and yet these numbers also point to the worth the industry brings the UK.

According to Arts Council England, the sector brings in the region of £10 billion to the UK economy. For every £1 of funding the sector received, it contributes £5 in taxes.

I would challenge Rishi Sunak and any critics skeptical of the validity of arts careers to imagine life without consuming art.

However, Conservative austerity and cuts have slashed through the sector in recent years, showing how little it is valued. Rishi Sunak’s Covid-19 ‘support package’ is much needed, but does not reach far enough.

I would challenge Rishi Sunak and any critics skeptical of the validity of arts careers to imagine life without consuming art. No favourite albums, trips to a gallery, gigs with friends or film nights.

Art does not just ‘appear’ for the enjoyment of us all - it is created, agonised over, commissioned, underfunded, made with passion.

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The spirit of artists and the industry is resilient against the relentless pursuit for profit and productivity . Many famous names have rallied in support of the creative  sector and highlighted the hard work and value of all those who work within it.

Author Ian Rankin really sums up how out of touch the government line is:  ‘Without the arts, our lives are impoverished’.

Featured Image: Libby Henderson


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