How many of us working in the arts are keeping quiet about how we really feel, asks Amanda Parker.
This week’s AP shows we’ve slipped from pole position in the global soft power index, with some suggesting that Brexit events may be a contributing factor. Like a bickering couple at a wedding reception, our public discourse about EU membership has been messy, accusatory and has sucked others into opposing camps. And in any public row, some are pleased to share their views publicly, whilst others have zipped shut their opinions for fear of escalating the row into an all-out fight. How many of us in the arts sector are keeping very quiet about how we really feel? Not just on Brexit, but on our opinions and experiences that don’t quite fit with those of our colleagues? At AP we’re increasingly hearing of cases where individuals feel no-platformed, censored, or unable to express their opinions safely: how is it for you? If you haven’t already done so, help us to get beneath the skin of assumption by adding your voice to our Freedom of Expression survey.
Having the freedom to express opinion is vital: being able to act on that opinion is possibly even more so. And in the UK’s latest flagship cultural district there’s already cause for concern on whether expert opinion is leading to the right action being taken. Our report on the East London cultural district reveals experts have made clear there’s a risk of a multi-million pound overspend – and that’s before construction’s even got underway. And if the overspend becomes reality… who’s going to fill the funding gap?
And we’re out of the traps: the UK’s first December election in almost a century brings with it the opportunity to get the arts on the radar of both the electorate and MPs. We can usefully engage with our difficult times by highlighting the sector’s ability to bring people together, heal wounds, shape community, create employment and develop skills. Buckle up: we’re in for a bumpy ride!