Credit: Rosie Wilson

A new reality without the arts?

By Christy O’Hanlon

Christy O’Hanlon discusses the government’s lack of provisions and support for those in creative industries throughout the pandemic. 

I imagine Rishi Sunak, throughout all those months during that dreary lockdown beginning in April, passing his spare time with a chuckle as he looked at a blank television screen. Scratching his head to ponder a thought as he read a book with no words, or perhaps even tapping a toe whilst wearing headphones that play no music. As, when asked by ITV News if those in the arts who are unable to work under the current situation will receive any more financial support from the government, the chancellor stated: “Everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust in the new reality.” The chancellor’s comments and the lack of financial remedy for thousands of workers have unsurprisingly caused concern and fear over the stability of jobs in this sector, and a lot of finger-pointing toward the government for failing to protect vital careers and opportunities that carry enormous importance within our society. 

Luckily for us, the government has devised an ingenious quiz that truly highlights the creative flair they’re bringing to the table in order to help save jobs in the arts. Their new Careers Quiz is a fun and interactive multiple-choice questionnaire that aims to help those who have dedicated their time, money, and energy into their careers in the arts to simply find a new job. The quiz suggests totally rational and realistic career suggestions for those who take it, with suggestions such as “sports professional”, “civil engineers”, and “stunt doubles”. The government’s reluctance to support careers in the arts is extremely damaging to a career sector that is already often treated as inferior in a capitalist Britain. For those of us with an interest in a career in the arts, or who are undertaking an arts degree, how many times have we been asked “but, what will you do with a degree in that?” It is ingrained in many of us that a career in the arts won’t be as secure or profitable as one in finance, or banking, or administration. For many who chose a career in the arts, or those hoping to, the government’s clear messaging towards the lack of support for this industry have been nothing short of a kick in the teeth. It does nothing to help cure the already growing amount of anxiety that surrounds a career in the arts in today’s current climate in Britain. It begs me to question if, during the 2008 financial crisis, bankers were also encouraged to rethink and re-skill. 

For many, the arts have provided a source of comfort, joy, and escapism during these very difficult times. The lack of protection and consideration over careers in the arts sends a transparent message that the products of creatives and artists alike are dispensable. We must remember that on the other side of every magazine we flick through, every film or programme we watch, every song we shuffle through on our phones are teams of people who pour their time, energy, and money into giving us a taste of their passions. These jobs are filled by people with families, bills, and worries and anxieties like everyone else. The totally flippant attitude taken toward people’s livelihoods echoes the already concerning narrative that hangs above the Tory party; one that places profit over people. I wonder if Rishi Sunak would be able to re-skill and consider learning the trade of compassion?  


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