Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images via BBC.
Opinion by Julianna Bello Da Costa
The Arts industry is at risk of losing its funding and ultimately its shine with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak has caused uproar amongst the arts community by suggesting that artists should retrain and look for employment elsewhere. He said in a statement last Tuesday, reported by the Mirror: “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis”.
He continued: “That’s why we’ve put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities.” Suggesting that artists should retrain and look for employment elsewhere. This is problematic because these are people’s livelihoods that are at stake, artists who have been doing this for most of their lives are now experiencing a threat to their work.
Many trades have started to reopen under regulations and are making it work. For example, cinemas are operating under social distancing guidelines so why can’t live theatre resume with these same rules? When comparing the treatment of the Arts industry to other industries within the same scope, it is clear to see not every profession is being treated fairly which needs to change.
Third year Film Production and Theatre student, Humnah Abdullah spoke about her views on how the Government’s lack of support will impact her breakthrough into the industry. She said: “Beforehand, I was hoping I could get somewhere in order to push for change, it feels like I’ll barely get my foot in the door”.
Humnah also feels she will face “harsher competition from those who were already in the industry and those who have graduated before her”.
The Government’s failure to empathise with budding creatives and current artists during this time is having an astronomical effect on the industry and is not giving people the credit they deserve.
The UK has one of the most renowned entertainment industries with some of the best film, theatre and music being produced here. According to the Conservative website, ‘the arts and culture industry contributes £10.8 billion a year to the UK economy.’ A figure that continues to increase each year.
So why is the government abandoning this gold mine?