Why the Arts?
It’s no small thing working in the arts. No small thing at all. When I’m sick and there’s no pay, or a full-on contract with an end in sight, with no time to pitch for a new contract. No holidays. No manager. No rest. All my peers are tired and funding has been cut all over the place. Support is less and less, there’s nothing to lean on, nowhere to go to.
I phoned the GP yesterday, I’ve been ill for a month the receptionist said ‘Haven’t you seen the news lately? The doctor hasn’t got time to call you. They barely have time to do surgery. The situation is dire here.’ I go back to bed and think for a while about the projects I have set up. The fact that the council won’t allow the posters I had designed to be printed. Why? Because of the cuts, the freezes on budgets. Frustration is building up around me with the people I’m networking with. What’s the point when the service you are working to promote may well be gone next month? I do think ‘Why? Why the arts?’ it is hard not to.
All the jobs that I see advertised that I am overly qualified to do are for voluntary posts. I can’t afford to volunteer. What would I tell the bank when I couldn’t repay my loan? Or my children when I couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage. I’d be happy to volunteer but all my tax credits have been cut and I’ve got debts to pay and children who want to go to university and maybe have a holiday.
Breathe. I breathe. It’s all so cliché and smells quite cheesy but the real reasons –the hand on my heart honest reasons – I barely know I believe them myself. Looking through the multitude of thank you cards and letters written to me over the years of delivering community arts work; the ‘ You have changed my life.’ from mothers who have been able to keep on being mothers in a time they thought they could not go on. The gift of a smile from children who get a glimpse of acceptance for maybe the first time – it melts a cold heart. Families who have been fighting for longer than they care to remember resting for a moment together to listen or not listen to a story told, when they haven’t rested together for weeks. A chance to connect with yourself for the adult who doesn’t have anyone who listens to them. That moment of connection creating a re-connection and a beginning of a healing of self-esteem. A beginning of a new life and a new start. A glimpse into a new world. Then I know why the arts. Then I remember why. The arts. There is no other place to be for me.