“The arts…that’s like, theatre and paintings and stuff, right?” Well, yes, kind of. But it is also SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
Creativity, or rather, the expression of creativity, forms the basis of every aspect of the arts, and it’s important (or at least, it should be) that we raise its profile in this country.
A child’s first experience of using a paintbrush, a young dancer breaking in her first pair of pointe shoes, a freshly written script landing on the desk of a producer; the freedom to create, in any form, is a human instinct and shouldn’t be ignored or put to one side to review ‘later’. There is no ‘wrong answer’ with creativity; it is as individualistic as it is communal. Why then, is it forced to take a back seat?
Introducing the importance of creativity early on, allowing children to discover where their creativity lies and encouraging them throughout their education is vital. Possibly my favourite ever TED talk is on this exact subject, and I really urge you to watch it (not just yet though, finish reading this first, please). Author and former government advisor for creative and cultural education, Sir Ken Robinson, speaks so wonderfully and sincerely about the importance of creativity in schools, that it is impossible (as far as I am concerned) to disagree with his notion that we should treat creativity with the same respect and import as we do academia. I’ll let him explain the reasons why – he’s a lot more concise and much, much funnier.
Moving away from education into wider society, it’s shocking that an arts organisation as wonderful and as pivotal as IdeasTap has had to announce its closure but sadly, it just acts as further evidence of how neglected the industry is in 21st-century Britain.
You might remember the halcyon days of the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and the buzz that they generated for live music, dance and theatre. Where is that buzz now? How can it be that after such a positive and emphatic response to the opening ceremony in particular, IdeasTap - who offer so much for so little in return - is unable to secure funding and instead has to close its doors, its fearless and loyal workers forced to look elsewhere in a world where jobs are as scarce as they are well-paid? It is no hidden truth that in general, if you work in the arts, you do so for the love and passion of it. No one is in it for the money…because there quite simply is none.
“But what about concert ticket prices? And don’t even get me started on how much it costs to go to the theatre!” – I hear you, really, I do. There are many battles in this war, and ticket pricing is a commonly fought one. At a time when money is tight for a lot of the population, you’d be forgiven for thinking that shelling out £80 to watch a show in the West End seems more than slightly excessive. But just because you might not be able to afford to go and see the latest production of Cats doesn’t mean you should miss out on live theatre, or live anything, altogether.
By supporting local theatres, going to concerts performed by ‘unknowns’, or wandering along to a little-known art exhibition, you are not only expanding on your own, personal experiences of the arts, but you are providing those artists with a platform to share their creativity.
Enjoyment of and exposure to the arts shouldn’t be a ‘luxury’; there is no reason for it to be. If we all do just a little bit more, supporting those around us who are fiercely campaigning to give the industry the recognition it deserves, then we really would be that much closer to securing a culturally rich future for generations to come. So please, let’s not give up just yet.