As governments start to draw up plans for supporting the post-virus cultural sector, the voices of those working in it are the most important. Liz Hill introduces a new series of articles.
The coronavirus crisis has taught us much – a lot that we already knew, of course.
There really is a ‘magic money tree’ (in fact, a whole forest, it seems) that can be used to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society; it’s the political will to pick the fruit that has been missing.
It is possible to find homes for all the homeless; the accommodation exists, but not the mechanism for filling it with the people who need it.
The high stakes testing of school children that has led to a devastating mental health crisis among young people is an unnecessary part of the education system; teachers are perfectly able to assess performance and advise on pupil progress.
And the public has a huge appetite for ‘the arts’ – if only it were defined in their terms and made more easily accessible.
A survey by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) found that six out of seven British households with extra time on their hands were planning to broaden their musical horizons, with a third of these saying they want to discover more classical music. Over 200,000 people viewed the National Theatre’s YouTube stream of One Man Two Guvnors, raising £50k in donations for their efforts. While decades of investment in audience development have scarcely moved the dial in terms of public engagement with the arts, making them more accessible to a 21st century audience on their own terms has. As Ron Evans said last week, the genie is out of the bottle.
At the same time, in England DCMS is asking the question: “How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?” It’s looking for answers, as it seems unlikely that the status quo will be on the table.
So this month’s special feature in ArtsProfessional is kicking off with a series of informed and thoughtful provocations about what needs to happen in the cultural sector on The Other Side of the astonishing catalyst for change that we are living through. Let’s not waste this opportunity to make a better world, says John Holden. New models, frameworks, practices and norms of behaviour will all have to play a part.
The first five articles in the series provide different perspectives on the key issues that will need to be addressed: the definition of ‘the arts’; the role of subsidy; regional inequalities; instrumental agendas; social impact; and attitudes to failure, to name but a few. But there are many more dimensions and we want to hear about them.
It’s essential that diverse voices are heard. So please feed the debates by sharing your views with online comments beneath the articles – you can do it anonymously if you wish. Or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute an article for publication in AP. We want to know – and share – your vision for what ‘The Other Side’ should look like, and your proposals for how we could get there.
We look forward to hearing from you.