Posts Tagged ‘election’

Creativity is born of revolution

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Post-2010 election and the future of this country’s cultural community hangs in the balance.

Yesterday, following a Tory/Lib-Dem coalition and the announcement of the new cabinet that includes Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt *rhyming slang anyone?*, a £66 million cut in budget for the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) was reported in the national press.

Where this cut will likely be made will be to the Arts and arts funding.

So, why should this bother me?

Unable to avoid sounding like a cliche, “the Arts” is my life. My entire life. Creativity, music and performance are everything I have ever known and everything I have been able to do since I can remember. I don’t know about a lot of things, I have built my whole adult existence around music making and creating opportunities for others to make music.

But that was my choice surely?

Yes, I chose to do a variety of work that doesn’t pay very well in a field that I am passionate about. I chose to give myself the freedom I need in order to write the music I want to make. I chose to commit myself to work I believe in. But I am not a doctor, a scientist, a soldier, a psychologist, a classroom teacher, a policewoman, a plumber or a builder. If I was in the balloon I would be the first to be thrown out. I am not claiming that this is a worthy profession.

Music is all around us. It can change our mood instantaneously and unpredictably. It urges us to move, to dance, to celebrate, to cry, to sleep, to breathe differently, to rise up, to ritualise, I could go on and on.

Art is everywhere. It is what our brains do when we’re not thinking.

When did you last read a book? When did you last see a film? When did you last see a postcard or a painting that you loved? When did you last watch some people dancing or singing? When did you last pretend or lie? When did you last create, however small, even a doodle on a pad or whistling a tune? When did you last write something for work and think really hard about picking the right words? When did you last take a photograph?

What will happen?

I can’t predict the future (as you all know I’m pretty good at it though!). High end, high cost, high brow art will be largely unaffected. Yes, sure there will be cuts to the biggies (the national theatres, ballets, operas and musicals) but they will stay open and the ticket prices will go up to cover any lowering of funding.

The people who will be affected are people like me, individual artists trying to earn a living doing the only thing they are any good at. People who didn’t inherit any money to put them through private education, people who might or might not have a degree and might or might not be classically trained. Also, disabled artists, who face additional barriers to their music making and performance, this might be because of mental health difficulties, cognitive, sensory or physical impairments.

Talented, committed and incredible, unique people who have a right to express themselves through their art and have a right to be heard and seen.

In a capitalist society we all have to earn a living, we all have to contribute whatever we can to the world. I only have this. Music. This is all I have to give.

Creativity is born of revolution

I am unclear what this looks like at the moment, it is too close to yesterday’s announcement for me to feel anything other than distress. I have fire in my belly though and with time (not much time!) I will be able to express better what I mean by the above statement.

If you have anything creative in you, do it. Let it out.

Here’s some stuff that might help:

  • Any of the links on the right hand side of here will take you to stuff that can inspire you.
  • This was posted on Twitter by Futurising a while ago, it’s about just getting on with it.
  • Drake Music is a music organisation that I work with.
  • You can write to Jeremy Hunt and tell him what you think of him, in fact why not write to that awful woman Theresa May at the same time.

look in the mirror and make a change

Monday, June 8th, 2009

The day after Obama was elected in the US, I joined Amnesty. I had always kept up to date with their work through their mailing lists and when I was a child, my parents were both members. I remember the yellow envelopes arriving regularly and all of us typing or writing out the template letters to send off in protest of human rights violations, my parents explaining carefully to us what the situation was so that we might make our own decisions and opinions only sending letters if we wanted to.

Political activism was encouraged in my childhood home, along with self-education.

My older brother and sister both went to regular protests both local and national. I naturally followed in their footsteps and protested a number of issues including supporting  nuclear disarmament and protesting against the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

In fact the very first proper gig I ever went to was an anti-racism march run by the Anti-Nazi League; I was 11. This annual event later turned into the Rise Festival which has now been abolished by the Conservative Mayor of London (nb: who is also now claiming to support the diversity of the capital – eh?! – he is an idiot).

Following the empowering change earlier this year for the world and progressive movement forward for the whole of the United States, I felt pushed into doing something, anything to help make a difference. Obama will make positive changes not just for the States but for the whole world, he is an international citizen, as are we all.

It is not all positive “over the pond” though. California, (the state I would live in if I ever lived anywhere but London and home to San Francisco, gay/hippy capital of the world) made a ruling to pass Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage. This did really come as a shock, a country moving positively away from racial discrimination but negatively towards sexual discrimination. Particularly there of all places; first they stupidly elected Arnie and now this.

A few weeks ago, I watched on i-player an interview Jonathan Ross (@wossy) did with Martin Sheen (Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez). Martin Sheen is a very active political campaigner and has been his whole life. It was a hugely inspirational (if too short) interview and his humble and honest accounts of his strong political views and actions despite over 60 arrests spurred me on to find out more. As Ross said has “inspired me to be a better person”.

Finally, last night Britain took a turn for the worst. Yes, today is a very sad day for all British people. We have until now been ahead of the rest of the world in our politics and social diversity. Our country has generally been a step towards socialism than the rest of the world and our political parties tend to be further left-wing of their foreign counterparts. But, with yesterday’s vote there are now two members of a fascist, neo-nazi party sitting on the european parliament and it looks as if the next general and local elections will follow this shift to the right. Today I joined the Green Party.

The impact of the right-wing and racist influence on government has yet to be seen. I live in a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-disability, multi-orientation, multi-gender society and I fear for all of our freedom. I cannot begin to show in text how the result of this vote makes me feel.

So, what are the next steps? To move home, but where? No. To become socially and politically active as a society, all of us, together. To take a stand. To look in the mirror and make a change, however small, to help move our piece of the world forward again.