This week the UK government announced a 1.57 billion rescue package for cultural, arts and heritage institutions and I’ll be honest when I heard the news I let out a sigh of relief. Now as they say the devil is in the detail, with 33million going to NI we shall wait to see how this is filtered down to theatre companies, theatres, heritage sites, museums, small regional companies, independent venues and many more. In lockdown the arts have provided us all with a source of entertainment so much so I’ve been able to make weekly lists of what to watch and stream but I’ve also seen a backlash on mainstream media, some have cried why should the government be bailing out the arts, when it is elitist and over priced. When we are lining theatre and producers pockets to that argument I wanted to explain why I work in the arts and why it doesn’t all boil down to class, profit and ticket prices.
I love working in the arts in all forms. I love sitting in an auditorium during rehearsals or dress rehearsals, being at the first read through of a new script and meeting new performers, producers and creatives. I love being an extra hand in a dance workshop or helping facilitate a creative writing or drama workshop or just being in the background taking pictures.
I love to see faces lit up when they come out of their first ballet, drama, musical, gig or panto. Or tear stained faces from an opera, shakespearen tragedy or just from laughing too much.
I love to see an audience on their feet applauding a group of individuals who have been working solidly on a production for months just for that 50 min run. I love being in the background of a new film or tv series, knowing blink and you’ll miss me but I just enjoy being part of it!
I love bouncing round ideas in my office of what will encourage people to come to a new exhibit, show/gig! Discussing how we can inspire a whole new generation of art lovers.
I have worked freelance, full-time, part-time and voluntary. I have stood on stage, in the wings, behind an LX board and in the audience. I’ve attended drinks receptions & cleaned up after them.
I’ve worked on touring productions, with dance companies with community groups, schools and worked in theatres, in fields, hotels, on buses, trains, in abandoned warehouses, shopping centres, beautiful theatres and with lockdown I’ve even worked from my dining room table and in my bed.
It’s a struggle at times to get paid, to get recognition, to get the job in the first place but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Imagine working in a job were you are be able to bring joy, escapism, to educate, inform and inspire.
And that is the crux that some of these commentators are missing it’s not all about The Hamiltons or the Pantos or the big West End productions. Most theatres, theatre companies and arts groups are not for profit and although venue hire and big touring productions do bring in a healthy profit in most occasions it doesn’t line anyone’s pockets it’s used to give the next Lin Manuel Miranda his shot, it’s used to hire that new local writer, producer, director, it’s used to provide workshops for school children to work on their interpersonal skills, confidence or to teach them that they are worthy even if they aren’t the best at maths, english or science. It’s for outreach to care homes, to help dementia patients relive there glory days and let their love ones have a glimpse into their muddled minds. It’s for so much more and then it’s there to preserve the buildings, to give people in rural locations an opportunity to partake in the arts with touring productions, it’s there to make sure we are all kept safe and within health and safety requirements and to pay overheads and wages. The arts are there to write the next big blockbuster which will bring work, tourism and money into the local economy. What you see on a stage, in the arts centre or on the silver screen is only the tip of the iceberg, it employs a whole army of people to provide something for your enjoyment.
Yesterday was #InspiringFutureTheatre Day and it’s more important than ever to celebrate all the things we love about theatre and how we can inspire young people, communities and schools.
When we say #savethearts it’s not just for the fun and frivolity we mean save the arts in all its forms, for your community, for your children and for me and you!
Please #supporthearts in any way you can buy tickets to that zoom production, buy tickets for 2021, go to that museum or art exhibition when they reopen. Donate what you can! This bail out if you want to call it that, will have a lot of terms and conditions, a lot of tick boxes which some may not be able to tick and unfortunately it maybe too late for some venues and artists.
Emer D xx