This blog is by way of a follow-up to a discussion at Devoted & Disgruntled 2010 about the importance of the general election result to the arts.
We concluded that, whichever party forms the next government, the likely impact on arts funding will be negative, and the only partisan difference will be the rhetoric and processes accompanying the inevitable cuts. In fact, it’s probable that the next governmental spending review will have a devastating outcome for all in the arts unless we act very quickly. It follows that the time to do something about this is now, when there’s a chance of influencing election manifestos and campaign pledges, rather than after the fact, when the task will be so much harder. It’s easier to influence a decision in the process of being thought through than it is to reverse one already made.
Several examples of successful lobbying campaigns were discussed at the conference, such as the campaign to save BAC, the climate change lobby, Joanna Lumley and the Gurkhas and so forth. Each of these has elements from which we can learn, and most importantly they all demonstrate that something CAN be done, if we want it to be. If we do nothing now then we’ll have no right to complain when everything goes pear-shaped in a few years’ time. An immediate action we agreed upon was the creation of a document in which all the arguments for the value of the arts – economic, social, philosophical, political – were gathered together in one place. This would then form the basis of a campaign manifesto which would sit at the core of all our activities.
I offered to compile this document to set the ball rolling, but it’s a lot of work and I’d appreciate your help – if there are any nuggets of evidence you can supply to demonstrate the value of the arts, please pass them over. It’s really important that such nuggets be facts or statistics, NOT anecdotes or dearly held personal beliefs; the campaign has to be as empirical and non-ideological as possible. As to the next step, it was suggested that the best way of organising this might be a kind of cellular structure, with everyone doing what they could in their own way and connecting via a set of principles and methods, rather than setting up a formal organisation. But it seems that this would still need a kind of a steering group to co-ordinate certain activities. This is the next step.
Please leave comments on the FRONT PAGE of this blog with:
– any evidence you have
– links to other places with arguments/evidence
– what commitment you are able to make to help with this campaign
(one line will do for this, and all levels of involvement, from the tiny to the considerable, are appreciated.)
And if there are people you know who want to be involved, please encourage then to visit here or put them in touch with me.
Jonathan Holmes: firstname.lastname@example.org
I know from conversations elsewhere that there’s a significant groundswell of support for this sort of campaign throughout the arts world – let’s not let the opportunity pass by!
Thanks everyone, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Director, The Jericho House