This brilliant video by David Shrigley demonstrates simply, humorously, accessibly and artistically, why we should value the arts. “The arts in Britain are like the sunshine in Spain” quoth Shrigley, with a confidence reserved for the artist. The public bodies have gathered all the evidence to make the case and today’s launch of the I Value the Arts campaign harnesses many of the UK arts industry bodies. Together with the arts funding ning network and the online petition, digital technology has enabled the most coordinated, personalised, professional, positive and coordinated campaign ever undertaken in the arts. There is an exponential difference between this campaing and the last major campaign against arts funding cuts in the 1980s which were pilloried in much of the media as being the rantings of whinging luvvies. This campaign involves artists and individual members of the public as well as state subsidised professional organisations.
Except for viewers in Scotland.
Many arts professionals north of the border are ambivalent about the campaign. The arts are a devolved matter and increasingly the UK industry associations are perceived as being English with little relevance to Scotland. Scotland’s own few associations, like the Federation of Scottish Theatre, have not signed up to the I Value the Arts campaign, while the Theatrical Managers Association and Association of British Orchestras has. Was FST asked or did it not show up on the London radar? Or did FST decline?
We in Scotland are in danger of being too insular and even burying our heads in the sand. The arts in Scotland have had a stay of execution for a year or so, firstly because the arts were protected from cuts during the delicate last phases of the birth of Creative Scotland and secondly because the Scottish Government has elected to defer its cuts. The Scottish Government has declared the importance of the arts, culture and creative industries to Scotland’s success as a globally successful nation. But we dont have fiscal autonomy and we face the same magnitude of cuts as the rest of the UK. The UK campaign to educate the general public to understand the deep value of the arts is a common cause even if the direct link to funding is not evident. The evidence collected and arguments made by UK cultural leaders is invaluable and applies directly to Scotland.
Scotland does not have its own alternative infrastructure for collective leadership, advocacy and representation. We need to get behind this campaign. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures, then there will be debate in the House of Commons around the value of the arts. Remember, we have MPS there too.
Art knows no boundaries. David Shrigley, graduate of Glasgow School of Art, citizen of Scotland, the UK and the world illustrates the value of the arts. And the rest of us have a part to play, to lend our voices to the UK campaign.