In a shocking announcement this week, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson revealed his plans to cut arts funding by 50% for creative courses throughout England. The money saved, which is approximately £20 million will be invested into the sciences, technology and engineering.
As you can imagine we are not impressed and this move clearly reveals the lack of importance the government believes the arts play in the UK economy… and we are not alone in our disdain. The organisation ‘The public Campaign for the Arts’ immediately set up a petition against these cuts and warned that this move could lead to not only closures of arts related courses but the closure of certain Universities.
With creative courses only receiving 50% of the normal funding it will hold them back from teaching students with the latest technology and equipment resulting in students being sent out into the workforce ill equipped and under educated.
In light of the recent pandemic, we understand and appreciate that more funded research and a push to increase the skills of science based courses makes sense but not at the expense of the creative industry; an industry that adds over £110 billion to the UK economy each year. It’s also an industry that we believe played an incredibly important role during lockdown.
Whilst we were all locked in our homes, it was the creative industry that kept us from going stir crazy. Many turned to the arts to escape the mundane and frustrating situation we found ourselves in.
In article in The Guardian by Sally Weale, the general secretary of the University and College Union describes this move as an ‘act of vandalism’ and Naomi Pohl, the deputy general secretary of the Musician’s Union stated, “This news is frankly the last straw”.
And we completely agree.
While many large companies have been handed huge sums in bailout loans and grants, self-employed artists, designers and musicians have been left high and dry; many who have had no work for over 18 months.
What frustrates us even more is the constant headlines of bungled plans during the pandemic such as the scandalous PPE contracts, the most expensive track and trace system fraught with problems. Then there’s the news of a flagship royal yacht at an estimated £200 million and the never ending HS2 project which started with an estimated cost of £37.5 billion and now sits at just under £100 billion and still isn’t finished.
What’s clearly apparent when you put all this together is the creative industry is just not important to our government. They’re more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and become part of the celebrations when the UK is recognised as a lead player in the creative world but aren’t there when it needs the help every other sector is being given.
We believe, like many, that this aggressive arts funding cut will have huge repercussions for the future of the creative industry in the UK forcing creative talent to look elsewhere or give up on their creative dreams altogether.
If you’d like to register your disgust at these cuts, we recommend signing The public Campaign for the Arts petition. We have.