I think you may know what’s coming; funding cuts – it really is the same sad repeating story.
We’ve been in a recession for what seems like forever and I doubt there’s one of us who hasn’t felt the pinch – young people always seem to take the brunt of it. From mass unemployment in the 18-25 bracket and astronomical student debt, to once having qualified and found an actual paying position, facing the prospect of never being able to afford to buy a house and having to work way past the current retirement age (I think we could learn a thing or two from the French). In the hierarchy of cases worthy of supporting, we all know the arts feature last and, as our editor, Jake, so often has cause to write against, in the hierarchy of arts projects worth funding, young people always seem to get short changed.
In brief, we need to stick together and raise our collective voices. The great thing about having an interest in the arts is that it is never just a job or a hobby. The interest comes from a place of passion and once that fire is lit, it is very hard to stamp out. This means that when we face funding cuts, we don’t all just dissolve and move on – if you truly want something to be a part of your life, you will find a way to achieve it. Unfortunately this may mean having to be patient and some time will need to be spent perfecting the art of compromise (which is a truly horrible word for someone of an artistic bent) but we have to face facts and needs must.
I heard a traditional Mexican saying this week that spoke to me:
Out of hardship, poetry and out of poverty, song.
While this warms my heart, I by no means want to further the justification for strangulating arts budgets by a predictable rebuttal in the vein of Tina Turner. Yes, we will survive but we would like a chance at living also. The arts is the only area of business (another horrid word on creative ears) where a slash in funding is assumed to have little comparative market impact – we are so obviously able to produce something out of nothing. Amongst our many talents, as magicians, we can whip up a triumph out of thin air. Fit to purpose theatre clichés are employed: ‘It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings’ and ‘The show must go on’. Please note my faint tone of disdain here. In a world where the adage ‘time equals money’ is commonplace, it seems bizarre reasoning to me that an industry that trades on time, rehearsals are just one example, are withheld the investment to necessitate its productivity. But whinging about it isn’t going to strengthen our case. Let’s be realistic.
This is where we need to ask the older generation to step in and help out. Those who have been secure in an arts related job that have been able to develop a skill set, need to involve themselves in mentoring their future replacements. We really need a bank of experience rather than wadge of cold hard cash, even if it would be nice to have that too.