OPINION: Culture Recovery Fund is key to ensure arts world is supported through current tough times
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Our columnist says the work of artists is everywhere in our daily life
I did not go to an arts university to make myself wealthy. I went because it was what I was good at, what I loved. What would be the point of going otherwise? Any artist will tell you that their practice is a calling. It comes from a place of love, of passion, of purpose and it makes them who they are.
Making a living from your art work is hard enough at the best of times, so a pandemic adds nothing but headaches. But being an artist is more than a profession and the joy it brings to others is more than we can ever comprehend.
The news of the Culture Recovery Fund is brilliant and will come as a lifeline to many hubs and communities which thrive off them. It gives hope. Hope that the sector is not being given up on and hope that it will survive.
There is not an endless pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and ultimately, our health comes first. But our mental health is just as paramount and the arts make a large contribution to a healthy mind. We simply cannot live without them.
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This is not just about live events. Take your morning routine for example. Think about the people who wrote the song playing on the radio, who designed the radio, who drew your novel cover, who wrote the novel, who designed your mug, your cereal box, who designed and tailored the clothes on your back, who took the photographs on the side of your bus... This list is endless and they are all feeling the impact of the pandemic on their careers.
According to research by Oxford Economics in July, the creative industries sector is predicted to have a combined £77bn turnover loss in 2020, down 31% compared to 2019, with 409,000 jobs at risk. This is a shocking hit when the creative industries were forecast to grow at five times the rate of the wider economy this year.
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The sector includes film, TV, radio, photography, music, performing and visual arts, crafts, design, fashion, advertising, publishing, museums, architecture and is one of the worst hit by the pandemic. It contributes £111.7 billion to the UK economy - ‘more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined’.
During the original national lockdown, many of us took to the creative arts for sanctuary. They were a way to escape the strange and terrifying times we had suddenly been thrown into, keeping many entertained and mentally occupied when there was so much anxiety and fear. We all ate through music, books, TV and films at a rate of knots, as well as reaping the therapeutic benefits of actively practising arts can bring.
The world has proven that we need the arts. To lose them would be simply catastrophic. As you start your Christmas shopping, think how you can support creators and creative institutions. Where your money is spent is more important than ever, and when you buy from a creator, it has an instant and direct effect.
I ask you to remember that, when we finally return to normal, if the arts are not there, we are nothing. The world’s mental health is in crisis, with more people being affected than ever, even before a global pandemic. Without the arts there on the other side of the pandemic to entertain us, we will be far dire straits. No music, no theatre, no films, no fashion, no photography... I do not think there is need to paint that picture any further.
Kate Wolstenholme is an Archant visual curator.