Save the Last Dance

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The creative industries need rescuing, not reskilling.

It’s a well-known trope that British culture is stolen from the countries we colonised and when it comes to drinking culture, making it home from the pub unscathed after twelve pints is a badge of honour.  Yet this small island has brought the world creative talent such as William Shakespeare, Margot Fonteyn, Edward Elgar, Annie Lennox, William Hogarth, Tom Jones, Robert Burns… Not to mention, our nation’s favourites from Strictly! So how can we imply this industry should change career? 

Since April 2020 the UK, along with the rest of the world, has been on pause with uncertainty in many industries as the economy declines. A panicked British government, desperate for us all to get ‘back to normal’ are frantically trying to prevent us from falling into a great depression. Some of us have been able to work throughout the pandemic, a few turning their passions into a business and, alongside many other things, 2020 will become the year of the savvy entrepreneur. Unfortunately, many industries around the world have had to pause completely, with the arts being deeply affected. Many freelancers don’t know when they will be able to work next, creating uncertainty for the future in many of the creative industries.

Which brings us to the British government’s new campaign about re-skilling into Cyber. If you’re unfamiliar about what we’re referring to – and we’re envious if you are – the UK government released a campaign featuring ‘Fatima’ a ballerina. Fatima (her real name is Desire’e) is shown lacing up her pointe shoe, unaware that her next career could be in ‘Cyber’. We won’t contribute to the backlash that has ensued – plenty more have said it more eloquently. What though, do the underlying connotations of this say about the government’s respect for the importance of cultural arts in British life? We are living in a digital age and the tech sector remains strong even in this climate but does this angle of re-skilling those in creative industries put the cultural arts in danger?

Culture Vs Tech
In a recent press release, the Government announced that more than 588 arts organisations have been saved by the £76 million in the latest Culture Recovery Fund grant and on the 5th of July they announced a £1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions. Since then, most of what we have read and seen in the news are theatres, musicians, artists and freelancers struggling to claim any of the resource the government so loudly promised to provide. This most recent campaign only reinforces the concern within the sector that our cultural arts are being disregarded during the pandemic. Without investment to save the pillars of the industry, a huge part of British culture could be lost or changed forever.

It’s likely that the economic stability of the technology sector has weighted the government’s stance during the pandemic. With no re-opening or re-start in sight for many creative industries across the UK, is re-skilling really the answer? The 20th century saw thousands in Britain lose their jobs in factories due to the advancement of technology. Is the creative world next?

Will this impact advertising?
The irony of the government’s campaign, suggesting those in creative arts re-skill into Cyber, is that the creative arts and the skills of those in the advertising industry made the campaign possible. Advertising is a part of the creative industry. To stand out, businesses (even “cyber” businesses), need creative thoughts and ideas.

Without support from the government during this time, the creative arts will struggle, and if they fall then where do we pull passion and inspiration from? Where can our art directors, digital designers, copywriters, UI designers pull amazing and brilliant ideas from in a world where all of our creative arts are re-skilled in Cyber?

We are here to bring life and colour to ideas, to bring together a concept and make it into reality. How is that possible if the colour and inspiration around us cannot survive?

The advertising industry and our clients must realise the gravity of the situation and the impact the pandemic has affected our creative industry. We need to take action, to show support to our fellow creative thinkers, our freelancers, our musicians, our dancers, our producers that bring the extra zing to our ideas. Those that win awards for us and make us stand out from the crowd.

Sign the petition:

Available arts funding over Covid-19

Connie Tawns