From the media to the government to schooling institutions, it has become the norm that too many people are incredibly dismissive of the arts and creative industries. Art has become synonymous with the words layabout, hippie, pretentious, uneducated, or sometimes failure.
Far too often we hear the words “starving” and “artist” go hand in hand, and being thrown about as some sort of derogatory term. But what if instead of dismissing the artists that make up the scene, we recognised one of the reasons there are so many of these “starving artists”? It’s all due to the lack of support and acknowledgement given to the value of the arts in our society, thus making it incredibly difficult for an artist to get paid full time.
Art is not just about college dropouts deciding to splash some paints against a canvas because they have no drive to find what their elders described as a real job, nor is it just about an ostentatious, beret-wearing 30 year old hipster glueing some nails to a wooden board and calling it a masterpiece. And it’s time that we realised there is so much more to it than that.
The arts have long been regarded as a throwaway subject at school, or viewed as a lesser priority when it comes to government spending, leading to the budget for the arts industry in the UK being severely slashed in recent years. But why do we have this concept of the arts being trivial? Why is it viewed as somewhat of a non-essential industry when careers that are influenced by the arts include architects, scientists, gardeners, actors, chefs, and engineers? Could it perhaps be that with a surge in arts comes a surge in human passion and expression, which is something considered highly dangerous by governmental bodies? Could it perhaps be a way of justifying spending funding resources on other industries deemed more “important”, such as the weapons industry?
Regardless of the root of the problem, the arts it is not just an important part of society, it hugely influences our culture as a whole. The foundation of cultures from all nations are down to the emotive power of artistic influences in fashion, music and language – from Mandarin lettering, to African tribal headscarves. It encompasses self-expression, compassion, creative ingenuity, our moral compass and our very human nature.
If you look at the artistic, theatrical, and creative talents that have come out of the industry throughout history you have names along the lines of Salvidor Dali, Leonardo Da Vinci, John Lennon, Banksy, Jackson Pollock, David LaChapelle, Yayoi Kusama, Jimi Hendrix, Picaso, Andy Warhol, and Anna Pavlova. And those are only some of the most well known. These artists have been hugely influential in politics, religion, social status, class, and the complex world view we now all hold. And all started locally, only to then widen their artistic spectrum to a world platform. If they were not supported we would not have some of the greatest masterpieces of our existence, and we would never had witnessed their inimitable brilliance.
Always support your local artists, be they sculptors, musicians, blacksmiths, jewellery designers, painters, theatre producers, photographers, carnival performers or digital designers. It is only through continued support, encouragement and persistence that we can turn around this negative spin on the art world and see the next generation of visionaries emerge from small scale artists to global innovators.