Buttressing our cause

There’s a lot of campaigning going on at the moment in support of the arts. Arts cuts in Newcastle and (I’ve just heard) potentially Cambridgeshire are the cause of a huge amount of concern and media activity. Plans to restrict the Ebacc to exclude the arts are the target of a lot of well-expressed and powerful lobbying by many significant figures in the arts, and related fields such as design and fashion. Pillars, as you might say, of the arts establishment and creative industries.

However, we need more than pillars – we need buttresses. These can be yer common or garden buttresses – supports “built against a wall to support or reinforce it”, or flying buttresses, which are attached “to the external walls… free-standing, arched buttresses allowing builders to construct high cathedrals with soaring interior spaces”. (Thanks to About.com for these definitions.)

What am I talking about?

I am talking about people outside the arts – scientists, engineers, sportspeople, businesspeople, economists, people running non-arts charities, people working in retail – who know that the arts are important in our society.

Scientists and engineers for whom the arts are an expression of the sublime, a wonderful mental training tool, an escape from or aid to thought.

Sportspeople for whom music is a crucial support in mental preparation.

Businesspeople who are looking for staff with the empathy, imagination and confidence that drama training brings.

Economists who recognise the contribution the arts make to our floundering economy, locally, nationally and internationally.

Charity managers for whom the arts form a vital plank in the platform of services they offer.

Retail managers who enhance their customers’ experience through good design and piped music.

At the moment, our ‘pillars’ are screaming their heads off from inside the cathedral, where many will neither see nor hear them. We need support from outside, where it is more visible and where it cannot be brushed off as just the arts world bigging itself up and trying to save its own skin.

Unfortunately, our current Education Secretary does not find it difficult to ignore the testimony of teachers, artists and arts industry professionals. We are saying that it’s a disaster for the arts to be cut out of our educational and social spheres. Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we? But if people from outside the arts start to say it, he may have to listen – at least for a crucial second or two.

So – anyone out there who knows a scientist, engineer, sportsperson, businessperson, economist, charity manager, or retail manager who might support the arts for whatever reason, ask them to buttress our cause – our walls are on the point of falling down.

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Published in: on December 20, 2012 at 13:34  Leave a Comment  

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