The words Rethink, Reskill, Reboot have been replaying in my mind since first seeing the government’s most recent attempt to belittle the Arts.
The advert showcases a ballerina named Fatima, who is being told her next job could be in cyber, and that she just doesn’t know it yet. Essentially, this advert is saying a big screw you to anyone involved in creative industries, whether that be dancers like Fatima or writers like myself. I have spent the last three years studying a BA in Journalism, Media and Culture and I’m about to start an MA in International Journalism. That equates to four years of studying and £36,000 of tuition fees, just to be told that I should retrain and that my future in a creative field is non-existent and not valued.
Since beginning my degree, I have always been compared to my friends studying more traditional subjects, like medicine or nursing. People would ask a group of us what we were studying and somehow, I would always be last in the circle; I’d then say “Journalism, Media and Culture” and they would laugh and say how disappointed they were in comparison to my friends’ courses. I wish I could say this happened once, but unfortunately, I have lost count of how many times this has happened. These creative degrees are often seen as Mickey Mouse subjects and I don’t understand why.
A degree in Journalism and media is way more than just studying TV. It’s learning how to carefully analyse and understand the clockwork behind the news. It’s understanding the political economy and hegemony which are sadly the foundations of our British News system. Would my STEM friends be able to understand that?
Having said that, I don’t want to disregard STEM subjects or occupations which are considered of more value; that isn’t my intention. The intention of this article is to voice my opinion on the utter disrespect towards careers within the Arts. The Arts have been consistently devalued under Tory governments. In my own education, I have witnessed it first-hand as schools would concentrate and fund sports teams but pay little attention to the art or drama departments. This was clear at the beginning of lockdown and has carried on to now, as they encouraged various sports events to carry on, while theatres weren’t allowed to re-open.
Arguably, the likes of music, movies, TV series, and artistic hobbies are the things that helped many people through lockdown. I doubt anyone can say that they didn’t read a book or listen to music whilst quarantining for months on end. Yet the Government are happy to turn around and belittle the freelancers and artists that brought us these creative things that we take for granted. Without journalists or the media how would anyone be informed on lockdown restrictions or COVID updates over the last seven months? If anything, the pandemic has seen a global increase in news consumption.
On the plus side, arts organisations across Wales will share a fund of £27.5m to help during the pandemic. This was announced on the 21st October and seems to be the shining light on the country before they went back into a firebreak lockdown for two weeks on the 23rd October. The Arts Council of Wales believe that this money will protect at least 1,800 jobs within the arts in Wales. Hopefully, this investment into the Welsh arts sector, will inspire the same in the United Kingdom and demonstrate how much we need the artistic and cultural sectors.
Just because an occupation isn’t someone’s idea of traditional, doesn’t mean it’s not necessary!
Photo courtesy of Matthias Wagner