Much is being made of the gradual, or not so gradual, excision of the arts from our schools, not least in today’s Guardian, where Charlotte Higgins’ piece
concentrates on the artistic glitterati (‘arts leaders’, which sounds a bit like ‘community leaders’ to me … at best people with some genuine standing, at worst self-appointed busybodies with axes to grind … kinda like bloggers with louder voices). The article shouts thus:
Arts leaders voice deep concerns over lack of cultural subjects in Ebacc
Government urged to rethink ‘incredibly shortsighted’ policy amid fears about impact on schools and the creative economy
Grayson Perry: sidelining arts makes no sense
Nicholas Serota: Britain’s creative edge is at risk
Now, I don’t buy this arts leader crap, and I also don’t buy the ‘creative edge’ argument, either. There will always be those with drive and passion who follow their muse, often to the detriment of their own circumstances. Being ‘an artist’ is in many ways in direct opposition to having ‘a career’ of a more normal, predictable type. ‘Arts leaders’, by which is plainly meant ‘artists you’ve heard of ‘cos they’re famous, like’, are simply not these people. They are the few who have made it to the top of the heap, whether through talent, luck, dedication, bloody-mindedness or all of the above. They come from everywhere, and appear everywhere, but they aren’t the lifeblood of the arts in this country.
The arts are supported, funded and populated by the hordes who do it because they have to. The musicians who play in covers bands, who do weddings, who teach the next generation, who enjoy none of the fame and the wealth of the top slice. The artists who paint stuff that sometimes gets bought, but is mostly painted for the pleasure of painting, and given to those who enjoy looking. Those who stop on the way to work to photograph a duck. Those who write stories because they can’t keep them in. These are the people who matter. These are the people who consume art, these and the people who sit and drink beer and applaud the drum solo, those who simply say ‘I like that’. These are the people who count.
The arts work from the bottom up, and then the bits that reach the top sink down to the bottom and the whole circular process starts again.
Of the six ‘cultural figureheads’ cited in the Guardian, three have knighthoods. If we are to persuade Gove and his ilk that stripping the arts from the curriculum is dumb (which it is, palpably so), then the voices ought not come from those in bow ties and drag, those who frequent awards ceremonies where they are wined and dined. The voices ought not come from the establishment, but from those who just are.
Gove needs to hear that voters think the arts are important. Next time anyone sees him at a gig, ask him to leave. Better still, stop playing until he does. Refuse to sell him your paintings. Don’t let him have any access to the arts whatsoever. But Gove doesn’t go down the pub. At least, I doubt he does.
Us real people, the artistic bedrock of this country, we can’t deprive Gove of the arts. He, apparently, wants to deprive us.
This is where the ‘arts leaders’ come in, as they can. Boycott Gove. Stop him consuming the arts. Starve him.