My goodness we’re in the run up to a general election!
As ever I feel unsure about where I should put my vote. At the last election, as an enthusiastic and hopeful undergraduate I was swept along with the feeling that things could change. Unfortunately I now feel slightly disillusioned.
It is easy within election rhetoric to sideline the arts. The arts are seen as frivolous and taking funding away from more essential areas. Parties line up to reassure the voter that they won’t be reversing arts cuts. It’s an easy win in terms of votes (Labour I’m looking at you).
I disagree wholeheartedly with this approach.
The arts help us to understand the world, they put political events into a critical frame and, potentially most importantly, they make life enjoyable. Let’s not talk about the arts in terms of profit or how it can benefit students in ‘harder’ subjects. Let’s celebrate this wonderful quirk of evolution!
We have a problem with arts access. This has not been helped by the recent coverage around conductor Simon Rattle’s return to the UK and the call for a ‘world class concert hall’.
Chancellor George Osborne spoke of ‘the significant artistic, educational and economic benefits that a modern concert hall would bring not just London but the whole country.’
I’m not sure that spending funding on a feasibility study for another concert hall will help with access to the arts.
Arts access and participation goes much further than affordable tickets and accessible venues. We need to demystify the arts and get rid of the ritual surrounding performances (have other people been made to feel stupid for not knowing when to clap in a symphony?) Let’s get to the root of the problem. It’s not glamorous or headline grabbing but the long term effects will be huge.
So for any politician canvassing for my vote – I want to talk about the arts.