“The Excluded“ amplifies the harsh reality and hard-hitting impact of Covid on creative workers during lockdown. The release of this felicitous documentary, made by award-winning Midlands filmmaker Jay Martin for the BBC, is under the wire for the one-year anniversary of lockdown. Nottingham’s home creatives are grieving, depleted by the scope of the pandemic and shocked at how the UK government’s economic agenda has side-lined creative industries as though they are nothing more than an “extracurricular activity.”
Notts-based actor Michael Muyunda and ambient, retrograde rock band Eyre Llew raise voices about their living nightmare as artists struggling to thrive amidst pandemic scarcity. Their grave prophecies manifest fears about the future of the creative industry whilst performance withdrawal symptoms float to the surface. But most potent of all is their dawning realisation about the status of music and film within Nottingham’s growing arts community and society as a whole.
Beyond opium for the masses or mere armchair entertainment to distract us from mourning our old lives, we perceive the medicinal power of art and how it literally means the difference between life or death for creatives like Eyre Llew. What future can exist for rising stars in this industry who have been deprived of oxygen for over a year? This is the climactic conundrum, but as rigorous political inquiry is postponed for another day, a follow-up documentary could give gratis.
While Martin’s film shines the age-old spotlight on the plight of “the starving artist” and provides a conduit for creatives to vent over the Covid-19 apocalypse, it falls a hairpin short of probing the political agenda. Implicit questions brought to the podium are sadly left hanging in mid-air. What measures should the government have set as a landing-net for the creative industries? Are artists demanding compensation, or will they passively sign over their woes to fate?
Nonetheless, seeing artists, filmmakers, and musicians finally given a voice will help creatives swallow the bitter pill that was 2020, provide some much-needed catharsis and a chance to mull over what this year of cranky curiosity has meant for you.
Watch ‘The Excluded’ here: https://bbc.in/3rVENbU
Other Jay Martin documentaries in this trio:
‘The Frontline’: A first-hand account of a.nurse working on a Covid ward in King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield. ‘A Tale of Two Towns’ with political opponents Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East and Ben Bradley, Conservative, on how they feel the government handled the pandemic.