SAVE THE ARTS
If a businessman was asked to give up his fortune, the answer would be a firm no. So why are artists being asked to wave goodbye to their undying love for the arts?
Since the pandemic has dominated our livelihood in 2020, it can be argued that it is the arts industry that has been forced into the shadows due to the government’s ignorance surrounding the arts.
Dancers have been itching to regain their spot on stage as the burning desire that possesses a dancer's mind to move freely has been stripped from them throughout the pandemic. Dancers have the ability to seek freedom through movement - it is their perfect form of escapism, so it is utterly heart wrenching to witness how neglected dancers have felt, and all artists for that matter.
The UK government launched a campaign urging artists to discover a new career and “rethink”, “retrain” and “reboot” themselves in another industry. The campaign states as following:
“Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet).”
Inevitably, this campaign launched by the government proves the little understanding they have of the arts industry. Performers, for one, don’t see this as just a career, it’s their whole being. It is something they are unable to let go of so easily, and without the arts, where would society be? Art is everywhere around us, yet, people are failing to realise that without it, there would be no joy.
Although the government’s campaign wasn’t welcomed by the arts industry, instead of sitting and allowing the government to release these absurd statements, they have in fact launched their own campaign - Save the Arts. In an attempt to keep the industry thriving, the arts community haven’t given up, and many have done socially distanced performances in public spots, expressing their fearless attitudes and dedication. Not only this, but dance establishments have also responded by transforming their practice digitally, proving they are able to flourish regardless of the government’s attempt to restrict their passions.
Rachael Hooper, (found at @rachael_hooper on Instagram), is a freelance dance artist and founder of her own talent agency, and is one of many who had struggled to seek work during the first lockdown:
“It was beginning to become extremely frustrating as there was nothing to do and no other way of a creative outlet”. However, Rachael didn’t give up and kept applying for whatever she possibly could have and eventually managed to land three successful jobs, but did state during the interview:
“That was seriously just luck. Bear in mind I have applied for many jobs and I got about three, it’s much more competitive now and work is limited”.
Asking Rachael her personal thoughts on the campaign, it is clear that she felt disheartened like many other members of the art community:
“I found it such an ignorant campaign. It makes me angry, the government have no idea. People who are not in the arts will never be able to truly appreciate it. There is so much ignorance surrounding the industry. You can go to the cinema and it will be full of art. The music, the video, the actors - it’s all ART. If anything, the pandemic has made it clear that many people don’t appreciate the arts at all, especially the government”.
It is time that society as a whole understand that art is all around us and everywhere we go. Many people have acknowledged that the campaign launched by the government was contradicting in itself, which is undeniably true. To create the campaign, they would have a photographer, a typist, a graphic designer, a dancer and so much more. Is this not art? The irony of this statement is evident, which is why it’s significant that artists cling onto their passions.
Asking Rachael if she thinks the art industry can be saved, her response was:
“Definitely. We are all so malleable and can make the best out of a bad situation. However, I do think that the whole industry will change and may never go back to how it once was. I could be wrong, but I think that society needs to appreciate the arts more than it does.”
Coming together as a community and proving the strength artists have as a collective is important to represent the courage an artist obtains, because as Rachael stated: “Us artists can never just switch it off, it is a part of who we are”.
There may be many artists out there who are on the edge of giving up, which is understandable, but it is important to rediscover the thrill you feel whilst immersed in your particular art form. Remember all that you have invested to reach success, remind yourselves of the memories you created as you thrived in your practice, but most of all, remember to never forget how art has shaped you into the prosperous individual the world sees today.
Instead of dwelling on the negatives that the arts industry has experienced over the pandemic, Rachael is using this to motivate herself further. The powerful mindset that Rachael acquires is inspirational, her love for the arts is vivid and it is clear that she will never allow her love to be stripped away. Asking Rachael to give some advice for the artists who are losing hope, she provided a few words of wisdom that I think is important to us all:
“Perseverance is key. You can’t give up because then someone else will give up. You have to keep at it and believe you will get there, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”
“When more opportunities arise and we stick to growing and developing in our practice, that flame will ignite”.
“Don’t ever give up on the arts. Don’t ever give up on your passion”
Some concluding messages to remember (and perhaps for the government to realise)
Never underestimate an artist’s indestructible devotion.
The arts are not a hobby.
Don’t ever ask an artist to give up their livelihood and expect them to agree.
Artists play hard but work even harder.
Written for Flexus Dance Collective's December Newsletter