Creatives reacting to the government telling them to ‘reskill’

“People participate in arts by going to galleries, listening to music, watching movies but refuse to recognise the extent of the importance of the arts sector. They want to consume it; however, they don’t want to fund it because they believe it’s not really needed.” Says Amy, 21, a fine arts student from London. 

Earlier this month Rishi Sunak appeared on ITV New saying “I can’t pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis”, showing no regard to UK night life and arts. A government-backed advert was trending on social media, where it was encouraging creatives to ‘rethink and reskill’ and take a new career path in cybersecurity. The ad has since been removed after the arts world was shaken with backlash by many creatives and criticism by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, who labelled it as ‘crass’ and distanced his department from the campaign. 

The CyberFirst campaign ad which promotes cyber security jobs for young people around the ages 11 to 17. The ad illustrates a ballet dancer named ‘Fatima’ with the text reading; “Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet),” Followed with the slogan “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.” However, it instead set off a series of backlash by creatives. Many who felt ‘angry’ and ‘frustrated’ with the governments’ stance on the arts industry. 

‘#Fatima’ was trending on twitter, with people defending the arts and suggesting the government should instead support the art industry and creatives to follow their talent and dreams. 

Night time economy adviser for greater Manchester also portrayed his criticism on twitter reading; “Today, the Chancellor has said musicians and others in the arts industry should look for another job. That includes your favourite DJ… If you like to go to nightclubs/events/festivals, just remember this when we are through it. They are killing off our scene.”

Kema, 26, a youth worker from oxford, “it just shows how detached they [the government] are if they can’t recognise the importance of arts. Not only as an industry but also for people’s mental health. I work with kids and teach them rap, and I can say to them ‘hey look you’re not doing well in school but we can put you on this rap programme, with an alternative education’ because the education system doesn’t fit and work for everyone. This is a way for the kids to express themselves, be heard and earn money.”

“It’s horrible, you work so hard towards something and it’s not like it’s a hobby where you just stop playing video games.” Says Harvey, 25, a musician from Brighton. “Working in the arts and putting on events is so much more than just a livelihood, this is what you want to do, you work hard for it and being told to rethink your whole life is absurd.”

“I spelt FUDGE with my GCSE’s, I got F in English, U in another exam, D in science, G in drama and E in PE, so my parents were well proud.” He said jokingly. “But my parents were proud when I was playing on stages at festivals in Croatia. I do something I love.” 

Dowden tweeted; “I want to save jobs in the arts which is why we are investing £1.57bn” This will include theatres, museums, orchestras and music venues to help reopen. However, the UK’s music industry is worth £5.2 billion a year and the nightlife bring £66 billion for the country.  The art industry contributes to the country’s economy more than automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. 

Freelancers and independent creatives struggled to sustain themselves even before Covid-19, and post lockdown their livelihood has not been ‘taken seriously’ by the government. Freelancers and independent creatives feel like they’ve been ‘thrown under the bus’, where in some cases, had to move out due to being unable to pay for rent. 

Matt, 34, music producer from Brighton says, “With sports nothing has happened to it, people can’t go and watch football, but it’s still carrying on and they are still playing in the premiership but no one has asked them to retrain.”

“I’ve always worked and balanced myself as an artist, and it can become extremely demanding.”  

“Artists who do commissions have a fixed hourly rate and then there are people who beg them to do it for a lower price. It’s actually humiliating to artists, no one sees the time, effort and amount of work that actually goes into what we do. It shows ignorance towards the art sector.” Says Amy.

“Other people whose jobs are in jeopardy are not being told to rethink, they can treat it as an important job as anyone else’s job, show some respect. It is mainly focused on people who are in the arts.” Says Harvey.

Poem 26: OBLIVION

A knot so tight,
Stuck in my throat,
Words of delight?
I laugh out of spite.

What do you want?
A familiar face now foreign,
Lost for meaning, judged often
By eyes that see sound, softened.

Mind so clouded,
Thoughts rushing, crowded
A parade of vivid dreams,
Strangely cheerful it seems.

Even maybe strangely sad,
Most considered it tacenda,
Broken sky leaking into meridian,
It fills us, the infinity of oblivion.

Poem 25: PEACE

It’s the little moments that matter,
The sun setting with quiet chatter,
House full of kids running, vases shatter,
Grace and golden sun rays fill,
The room until
Darkness hits again, watching it disappear, still
Behind a pointy hill,
Full of memories stolen by loneliness,
Crushed under heaviness
Of unwanted burdens.
Were you aware of,
Your ethereal kindness,
A moira swimming in a state of ataraxia
Free your heart, and the birds into the air.
You are allowed to declare,
A treaty for all hostilities to cease,
Finally, your tortured soul is at ease,
Open your chest and sing to the moon,
Your are the child of peace.

Poem 24: AIR

Pressing pause on life,
Waters crystal clear, no strife
Sun rays blossoming with kisses,
Some souls bored some in dreamy blisses.
Words hanging down my mouth,
Disappears with the gust,
Over spilled sinful lust.
Herbs I inhale, bring paranoia and fear
Trick is to relax and keep your mind clear,
Enjoy the world speak to you,
I have reached a bizarre epiphany,
You are my serendipity.
A deep voice so arcane,
Lost in onism, wishing for rain.
A touch of skin, entwined fingers and hair,
Your breath is my air.

Poem 23: PUZZLE

The final piece missing,
Sunshine on her skin, kissing
Stardust stuck under her eyelids,
Humanity lacking humanity,
But I guess that’s just what life is,
Capable of destruction and terror.

The final piece missing,
Old songs on repeat, reminiscing
A chaotic goodbye, as we die inside
But who needs compassion when we have pride,
A child bride, cried
In a village that turned a blind eye,
I see humanity lacking humanity,
A reality Without any morality.

The final piece missing,
Maybe if the moon smiled,
And the world would listen,
To the sweet birds singing,
Flowers blossoming
Children laughing and playing,
Maybe then we will break our bubble,
And find love, the final piece of the puzzle.

Poem 22: TRANCEPARENCY

I howled so loud,
As they buried me,
In the cold wet ground.
Time fitted that into a palm
Distance brought distance,
In unison, so calm
Harmony, transparency,
I feel your pulse,
With such clarity,
Many masks we all hide behind,
Don’t forget eye for an eye
Will make the world go blind.
Deception, betrayal, dishonesty
The lack of transparency,
Hold me,
Beyond a skin-deep sense of self,
There’s a depth of rasasvada unusually elysian.
Make a decision,
Watch an irenic mangata
The moon reflecting on the sea
Peace simply asks for transparency.

Poem 21: CONTROL

He would join his daily coma,
On his faded old sofa,
Just like clockwork, tik tok, tik tok,
The alcohol, streaming his veins,
Tied down with ropes and chains,
I am sorry, he cries as he explains,
All the broken promises obsessively he maintains.

I stood still in my corner,
Terrified,
I stood still as days became weeks,
Weeks became months and years,
Time passed uncontrollably,
I watched and learned his behaviour,
All his techniques.
I saw empty bottles broken, so lovely,
Face pale, and drained, so ugly,
I never saw him come home early.
Until one day, he never came at all.

I’m in no need for a climax,
After a sensation of alcohol,
The trick is to relax,
I promise it’s my last drunk call.
The world is black and white,
Sometimes a little in between,
Mostly smells like piss in the alleyways,
It’s far from a pretty scene.

My hands are wrinkled,
Eyes barely see,
Hair is now grey,
But am I really free?
Time has caught up,
I am old and grown up,
Turned into my alcoholic father,
Like father like daughter,
No point in regret,
Because I can’t just pack,
And pick a time to go back.
Funky smell, jukebox, neon lights,
Vodka soda, with a bit of lime,
One thing we can’t control is time.

Poem 20: MIRROR

Do not disturb the silence,
It’s in his cage, sleeping, no violence,
He is my nightmare, my horror,
What a dark aura.
I am weak, getting weaker,
Draining my spirit, diving deeper,
I was never much of a public speaker,
More the suffer in silence,
It’s fine honestly,
Because no one is aware of my absence.
Life is spiting a cunning smile
On my face like a slap, I walk for a mile,
With a broken nose, black eye,
Bleeding lips, full of kisses saying goodbye.
But he is awakening,
Digging, and chewing the cage, I’m listening.
Stop him. Please, stop him.
But my odds are slim,
I don’t know what I will face,
I am petrified, is there simply no way to erase,
The past, my memories or this place?
I cry, without shoulders to cry on,
I scream; however, no soul hears,
I am all alone,
Sitting in a dark room,
At least I’ve got a throne,
Finally, the cage unleashes my biggest fear,
Before me it stands so dear,
It’s dark, chill hits down my spine,
It’s presence far from divine.
I see myself, it’s a mirror,
A pale face, and dry lips, bitter,
I feel a cold weight in my hand.
We both have a weapon, a pistol,
BAM! Unheard words, so wistful.

Poem 19: UTOPIA

We are the brain cells,
Of a nine-year-old boy,
His imagination with deep wells and spells.
There is no reality, in this reality,
It’s full of faceless eyes.
Synthetic lips, cursed with sanity,
Insanity, sanity people so concerned for morality,
Yet their hypocrisy, hurts my chest
A dead utopia, dust and a quest.
Full of lawless streets but I am free,
Lawless streets with nobody,
Lawless streets and a smiling cat,
Singing from a tree, just like LSD.
This is the dead utopia,
All you people fear,
Because our existence only exists,
As long as this boy is asleep and unaware.

Poem 18: HEARTBREAK

A green uniform complementing,
your pale soft skin,
A war you’re assenting,
The return date unknown,
I release my last pleasurable moan,
Before I am once again alone.

But my love, do you not know?
That I am soft for this world, sensitive.
My heart shatters with a touch,
More delicate than thin glass.

I lay on dry grass,
Wait for the endless time to pass,
Heavenly kiss is felt on my cheek,
Somehow a sense of loss,
Everything seems so bleak.

Tears soaked by a folded flag,
Handed by a proud naïve young man,
“HE WAS A HERO”, they all brag.
The colours; red, white and blue,
On my wall, what a view…

The saddest feeling is loss,
The loss of my path,
My past,
My love,
My future.
The loss of myself,
I wade into the woods,
So much greenery,
But all I see is machinery,
Bombs and tanks,
Greedy men drinking wine on their thrones.

You were the beauty in all my chaos,
Hopeless dreams I embrace,
A hole in my chest, wide open
It’s heavy, my heart is broken.