Monday, 28 January 2013

Something to Say: SAVE THE ARTS

Aye my lord, honest
Those of you will peripheral vision might have noted that I graduated last Summer (2012) with a BA Hons in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, England, UK. I have been involved with drama clubs since I was seven/eight. They were run by my school,  and allowed Key Stage Two children the opportunity to be involved in Drama beyond the kind of hot-seating exercises labelled as 'Drama' in our English classes. I picked it up again in high school, and have been studying the subject ever since. 

The most wonderful things about studying a subject like Theatre and Performance (as opposed to Drama, which is mostly the study of written theatrical texts) are the diversity of subject matter, and the people. You cannot avoid getting to know people when you are forced to work with them on a show. For the duration of rehearsals, you practically live together, and you begin to learn everything about them from their strengths and weaknesses, to their body's pliancy, and just how much of a jerk they are when they've skipped a meal. During my degree, I have studied everything from Victorian Britain to the American Avant-Garde to Islamic culture to Guantanamo Bay. I have written for the stage, devised, planned interventions, given presentations and delivered project pitches.

Remember the light and believe the light - nothing matters more
I know I have only flagged up Drama/Theatre here, but the arts as a whole are important. There have been so many studies done now that show the benefit of creative outlets - particularly Drama - to everybody from toddlers to those with learning difficulties to criminals. I'm not trying to suggest that the world should become actors, but we really do need to consider the role the arts play in our lives and our education, development, and rehabilitation, and make sure that they aren't allowed to fall by the wayside. 

Cutting funding to the arts during the recession is understandable, but still not acceptable. It's a cheap shot that fails to take into consideration how integral they are to our education, personal development, and mental well-being. Because the big musicals continue to run in the West End, most people don't see the damage the cuts to funding are doing. In the 50s and 60s, and even into the 70s, the UK had a fantastic reputation for Theatre that did not rest on musicals, but on potent new writing that sought to deal with real-life issues that faced real-life, every-day people in real-life every-day Britain, and across the world. And when the Conservative Government cut funding to the arts in the 80s to almost nothing, we lost that reputation. We lost our gritty dramas, we lost our clear-headed and cutting new perspectives. The writers and the actors crawled under the kitchen sink and stayed there. 

I'm sorry said the soldier
When you turn your television on, you're watching art. When you see beautiful buildings going up, landscaped gardens, stunning clothes and inviting signage inviting you into shops and cafes and museums...when you pick up a book, buy a picture for your wall, download wallpapers for your computer, watch a film, decide you might have a trip to the theatre, listen to your favourite song...this is art. This is the arts. This is made possible by the arts. This has been inspired by the arts.

Next time you see George Osborne, or whoever his equivalent is in your country, standing there, taking cheap shots at the arts, take note. He has said he wants more cuts, and we'll be damned if he isn't coming to cut us off. The arts, and again Drama in particular, are being pulled out of schools, pulled out of the national curriculum, like so many weeds. The arts isn't a weed. It's the concrete between the building blocks of our society and culture. 

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, wants to cut arts from the curriculum. This argument in the Guardian dated 22/01/13 seems to think those that want to save the arts want to do away with all other subjects, and that is not what is being said at all. It's a childish attempt to discredit art and those that champion it. Yes - childish. This article in the Telegraph dated the same day is more grown-up, and highlights what is at the heart of the problem - that the arts, despite all of the studies being done, are just not valued enough. If this doesn't start to change, I think Tracy Emin's prediction of a riot might well come true - and I reckon I'll know a good handful of those who'll be standing in the ranks of those marching on Downing Street. Maybe I will be there myself!

SAVE THE ARTS. Encourage your children. Petition the local schools. Write to David Cameron. Support local amateur dramatics groups. Support your local theatre. Support the London theatres. Go to the cinema. Buy your music. Buy painted pictures, prints, photographs. Go to exhibitions. Find time yourself to write and draw and try getting involved in something performative in your area.

This public service announcement was brought to you by The Concerned Bloggers Association. For more information, please contact Marleen Vaughan.
 Read other posts on saving the arts: 
These are the ones listed on the Concerned Bloggers Association site at the time of posting, but check here - here! - for more.


  1. Well done, Kitti.
    I am so proud to be your granddad.

  2. I'm proud of you too!
    Love, Marls


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