Why Should We Fund The Arts?

This is part of my gold arts award Unit 1 Part D

Why Should We Fund The Arts?

The arts issue I have chosen is 'Why should we fund the arts?' A question that is asked frequently is 'why should we fund the arts when the country is in debt and struggling economically' A lot of people may think that the arts are a waste of money or a luxury that's not needed, for me that is not the case. I believe that the arts are more than just a hobby to people or just an interest, the arts are a crucial part of people's lives. The arts allow people to express themselves and share stories that would be hard to share otherwise. The arts have broadened our horizons over the years and have taught people new ways of thinking, everyone has been influenced by the arts some way or another throughout their life's without realising it. The films, television, and programs you watch have all been created by someone with some link within the arts, as well as the clothing you wear and the magazines you read. The reason in which I have picked this issue is because I have such a strong passion towards the arts and why everyone should be involved in it some way, however, this will be difficult without funding. The arts are funded by taxpayers, arts council or sometimes lottery funding, but unfortunately not everyone believes in funding the arts.

Arts effect every one's life in some way without people realising it. Art is everywhere, and does a lot to brighten up this dull samey life that people have gotten trapped into now days. When interviewed Neelam Saredia, creative learning assistant at the Gulbenkian theatre she said "There have been links to arts improving mental health (arts as coping mechanisms, or non-verbal ways of expressing the self, for example)" From first-hand experience, having suffered with depression for the last 6months, the only thing that has kept me strongly going is my passion for the arts, even when I lost the will to get up in the mornings the thing that pushed me on was the arts and the fact that I knew in my heart they would help me get through this and feel better, and now as I am feeling a lot better in myself I have the arts and drama to thank for this. My drama lessons in school give me the chance to express myself in the appropriate way that I need, and have given me the chance to be creative and open my mind. I am lucky that my school offers such a brilliant opportunity for the arts however, not all schools offer drama as part of the curriculum. It is essential that the arts are funded so that every young person is allowed the opportunity to participate and express themselves. By funding the arts it will help people be able to cope with their mental health issues, and allows them to express themselves in ways they can't otherwise. By funding the arts you are helping people get over there problems which would be hard to improve otherwise.

Neelam also stated "The arts help people to connect- to find empathy and understanding" The generation where the mobile phone has taken over is present and it is very rare when you come across a group of people who are not on their phones for a long period of time, however you can catch this rare scene in a theatre when people stop looking at their little communication screens and start watching real human beings, showing of their talents to enhance the lives of others. By funding the arts you're allowing people to connect with others, make new friends, meet new people and approach new opportunity's, this will considerable help children make new and potentially lifelong friends and be interesting individuals. The public should pay for this to ensure on a new creative generation, a generation that will be better for the world we live on. By the public funding this, children everywhere are being given the opportunity to express themselves and connect with others in the appropriate way they need to.

On social media sites, such as Facebook as your scrolling through your feeds you come across the arts more often than not, finding videos of different people dancing which get views everywhere as well as performances uploaded, people signing and comedy vines, so my point is why stop funding the arts when the arts is everywhere and everyone enjoys or involves themselves with it on a daily basis. Neelam said in her email "However as my type of role is temporary and usually dependent on funding, it means that if funding is cut, then it's a negative outcome for myself directly (as I, and many like me will be unemployed), and it will impact other projects and young people as there will be fewer people to create (and run) these opportunities." I work alongside Neelam outside of school with a project to do with NT connections. Neelam helps a lot with my outside rehearsals but may go unappreciated by some as she is not always seen, however that does not mean she isn't doing anything. Neelam is the one who contacts us about rehearsal times and schedules and keeps us all up to date, she is the go to women behind the scenes. Without people like Neelam helping at places such as the Gulbenkian, projects like my own would fall apart and would be reliant on one person, but people need to remember that people are no superman and cannot juggle everything on top of their own life situations. I believe that people in the arts industry are ambitious as the industry is so hard to crack on a big scale but not only that, as Neelam said a lot of hours are put in and some people may not see the pay worth the amount of time and effort but it's a passion! The arts are needing funding so people can be individuals and be creative, as well as people being able to have passion in their work instead of relying on a boring 9-5 job in an office.

People in modern times get so trapped in their day to day life's that they forget how to enjoy themselves and relax and appreciate what is around them. There are local theatres everywhere that people can go to, to watch a different variety of performances however, without the funding that has been put in place this will become increasingly difficult to keep up with. Through research I have found someone who disagrees with this though. "As a theatre critic, I have a simple plea for culture minister Ed Vaizey: stop all public funding of the arts, now!" this quote has been taken from the telegraph newspaper. From this statement I can tell that this man has been put off of public funded performances as he is involved with theatre himself I'm guessing this must be the case. And I am correct. The man goes on to say "I say it having just come back from the Norfolk and the Norwich Festival where I sat through a show called What Will Have Been - an awful mix of contemporary circus and dance that could only exist through state funding…..It had much in common with every other piece of dreary, pretentious, self-consciously "arty" subsidised theatre that I have seen…. Looking back, I can't think of one funded show that was any good…" Yes I agree there is some work that gets made that isn't brilliant but that is not the point, it is helping people express their self, and that is only one person's opinion of the work, for all we know the piece could have been brilliant just not his cup of tea, and that is what we need to go off of. Just because one piece of work he has seen didn't take his fancy and happened to be publicly funded doesn't mean that everyone else should have to forfeit and funding should be stopped.

Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs doubts that the arts should not get the funding that it's currently receiving. However, this is not because he doesn't doubt that the arts are an essential part of any country's culture, but if the arts are widely recognised, then there should be no problem financing them from voluntary sources. He quoted "Those voluntary sources are many - the sale of tickets, donations, private subscription, corporate sponsorship, legacies and the National Lottery. The National Lottery - which is a form of voluntary tax - is the only legitimate form of state support." I agree with Booth in the fact that the sale of tickets and donations can provide money, however that is not the case for all. Places such as the Natural History Museum in London and the Science Museum are all free of charge for entry, how comes? Because they are funded out of tax payers money to be able to do what they do- Arts funded. These places have a big impact for people everywhere, with thousands of visitors each day to these museums this would become harder without public funding… A lot of work time and effort goes into putting on a production, and sometimes to get a substantial amount of viewers the tickets cannot always be 'striped up'. On to donations, they are few and far between and can never be fully relied on. Without public arts funding places such as the natural history museum would not be in business, taken away a lot of the loves that people enjoy visiting.

I decided to hold a stop survey in school to find out what some of the students felt about the arts being funded. The general responses where mostly positive however I did get a few people disagreeing with the arts being funded. A year 8 female pupil responded to this question as No, she stated "there are better things that money should be spent on" I think this response is to be seen as quite shallow, however she is not one interested in the arts herself, and is still very young and therefore she does not see the important of the arts and the cultural around her yet. I agree on the fact, yes there are other things that needs funding and that money could go to, however, the arts funding should not have to consequence because of this. Another response I received (similar to the last) was from a girl in year 9 saying "there should be more important things than arts- like the essentials of life, that's what our money should be spent on" she then carried on and justified her opinion and gave another view "it's a nice idea to spend money on the arts, however, our money should be more prioritized." I understand what this girl was saying and I get that for the people in this world that are not as fortunate financially they may see spending there hard earn money on something that doesn't interest them at all unnecessary, and it's unfortunate that they cannot have more of an open mind to the matter, however, I completely understand if times are hard financially why they may see funding the arts as stupid, or unnecessary. The final person I received an opinion on was a Year 11 male, in a history class. I asked the same question as I asked everyone else and his response was as followed "No, because while the entrainment business is large, it might be too large and the money could be better spent on improving the NHS or on education." I replied to him stating "you do realise that the arts are all around us?" and he seemed shocked. I do believe his point on the fact that the government should be improving other things but I don't think the arts should be sacrificed because of this. It is down to the government to sort there funding issues, and to resolve the problems the resolution should be to stop funding the arts. The arts need funding as they help so much in the world and open up people's minds to new things. In these statements from the Guardian newspaper, it sticks up for why the arts should be funded. It is just incredibly frustrating because it kind of implies it's an intentional thing on our part which is ridiculous. We are in an economic crisis." However he still believed that the arts had a good deal and they should carry on being funded. "The arts in this country are a major financial success story. The income from creative industries generates revenues of around £112.5bn, and they employ more than 1.3 million people, which is 5% of the total employed workforce in the UK. Arts exports contribute around £10.3bn to the balance of trade, and the industries account for over 5% of GDP. The value of the creative industries to UK gross domestic product is, therefore, greater than the contribution of any of our manufacturing industries." Jonathan Holmes is seen here to be sticking up for the arts and its funding as it is obviously and statistically seen to be giving back to the community. There is so many reason why the funding for the arts should be kept in place and this research backs up different people's opinions/views.

I was interested in finding out more people's opinions about why the arts should be funded so I got in touch with the Gulbenkian's program manager, Alison Chambers. She explained the important of arts funding to me for the impact of the Gulbenkian, The National Portfolio is the core of the funding for the Gulbenkian and its productions, this allows grants for projects e.g. a theatre company new work to be produced and shown. The Gulbenkian put on so many different projects and productions which include a variety of people. They are well known for their youth groups and holding shows and performances of people of all ages, however this would be unlikely and nearly impossible to happen without the funding that the Gulbenkian receives to allow them to put on these projects.

Most theatre receive their funding in 1/3 (3rd's) this is usually through Arts Council, ticket income and sponsorship/membership however the Gulbenkian are lucky as they receive funding from the university and therefor is no need for sponsorship. The Gulb also receive project funding. This highlights how the Gulbenkian are able to put on so many projects as they have the funding however other theatre are less lucky with their funding and that's why they would be seen to be showing less. It is extremely important for local theatres to receive funding because it allows locals to go to the theatre who may not have enough money to go visit London's West End. Theatre funding allows so many opportunities for people to get out there and enjoy their lives as well as opportunity's to showcase their skills. For example if the Gulbenkian didn't receive the funding they wouldn't be able to hold such festivals such as 'Boing Festival'. BOING is a weekend festival were the Gulbenkian commission acts from all over the world to come and perform this includes theatre, dance, music and films for all genders and age. The BOING is fully funded by the Arts Council which allows the Gulb to keep the ticket cost down to the lowest minimum as the tickets do not cover the expenses of the performers as the arts council pay for that cost allowing people of all ages to experience performance they may have previously not encounter before due to finical problems. Alison stated "The Gulbenkian have had acts in such as 'Breaking Convention' which'd received a completely different audience and would normally be very expensive to watch however the Arts council made it possible." She went on to say that the audience that attended a lot of them had never been to the Gulbenkian before but because of this they are likely to come back and visit. 'The Arts shouldn't be just for the Elite.' The arts make such a big impact on individuals and people of all ages, as the Gulbenkian have proven.

Alison explained to me how the Gulbenkian will be applying for the NPO again for 2018-2022, however the funding has been put on a standstill therefore if accepted the funding they will be receiving the same amount as they previously do and this will become a problem. Money is worth less now, as the cost of everything else is increasing, this meaning that now on the money they are getting they are able to afford what they need but in 2022 its going to be hard to achieve the same level of funding for the projects planned due to the increase in expenses everywhere. If the Gulbenkian do not reach any of the 5 goals put in place by the Arts council with their funding the funding will therefore be stopped.

When asking Alison 'if you had to sum up why you think the arts should be funded, what would you say' she replied with "the topic of arts funding is wide and varied. Cuts to arts education and to arts industry funding in real terms means cuts to creativity, creative thinking, problem solving abilities, imagination. You can't invent something without first thinking of it. Creativity is collateral! The creative industries are the fastest growing sector in the UK, we need artists and creative thinkers in our economy. The arts bring people together, so at a time of political unrest we need the arts for social cohesion, place making and civic pride." If people decide to stop funding the arts there will be a massive loss in people's creativity, and I believe that it would effect a lot more people than some believe. I completely agree with what Alison stated, I believe that the arts are so important in people's lives that to cut the funding would be a huge mistake.

Overall through my research over the past couple of weeks I have seen different points of view to why the arts should/shouldn't be funded and it has widened my view of people's opinions although I still believe strongly that the funding for the arts should be kept in place, I can see why other people would think not. To my delight a lot of the people/classes I went to and asked agreed that the arts should be funded however there are always going to be people to disagree and have different views, which is fine and the reason our world is so diverse is because of everyone is different and everybody sees things differently to others. Through the exploration of this arts issue, I have found different views from different people which lead me to thinking there way for a short while, however I still strongly believe that the arts SHOULD be funded. My view of this is backed up by many reasons such as creativity, mental health, well-being, community and social cohesion. I understand why some people do not believe in the funding of the arts and this is a very complicated topic as some people strongly believe that there are more important things to spend the public money on however, I believe that people with thoughts opinions have not experienced the arts in the way I have or others around me otherwise I think they would see it very differently. They unfortunately don't truly understand what the arts mean to people like me.

Author

Azaelia Slade

3 Comments

  • Emma Del'Nero Williams

    On 13 March 2017, 15:47 Emma Del'Nero Williams commented:

    Why do we still have to justify funding the Arts? It saddens me that people still question its value. Your Blog comes up with some very persuasive arguments for those who still do not understand how they enrich our lives. We need more young people like you to challenge people’s views – keep up the good work.

  • Luke Taylor

    On 14 March 2017, 09:35 Luke Taylor commented:

    The lack of funding for such an important part of our society disgusts me. Why doesn't the government understand that they are destroying what nearly everybody cherishes so much?

  • Jake  Ashby

    On 19 April 2017, 09:36 Jake Ashby commented:

    Your blog was very detailed on both sides with many different examples. Which, really helped me to understand the issue that the arts are having. I completely agree with your view on this topic. It should still be supported in its funding. This is because it has such a positive impact on society.

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