Let’s imagine a normal day in the life of an average person, shall we? I’m willing to bet they wake up at some point. They probably check their phone, maybe have a look on Facebook or Twitter, and make themselves some breakfast (toast or cereal?). They’ll have a shower and get themselves dressed, put their shoes on and head off out to work. They’ll do their job, have their breaks, and then, once their shift is over, head on home again, where they can chill out alone, or spend some time with the family, eat their dinner, and then probably get back into bed.
Of course, there are going to be variations depending on each individual, but I’d put money on it that those specific beats – or some form on them – are a part of almost every working adult’s day. After all, we’re not all that different. Sure, maybe you work from home, so the heading out to work is heading off to do work somewhere in your house. You might have a bath and not a shower. You might not do breakfast, and maybe you crash out on the sofa rather than climbing into bed. But it’s still all basically the same.
Why am I describing this? Well, it’s because I want to bring something up that I think is important, and this seems to me to be the best way to do it.
There’s an attitude I’ve been noticing recently, not only from randomers on social media but from people I know quite well, that troubles me. It’s an attitude regarding the arts. It seems that a lot of people seem to consider the arts as out of touch, pointless, filled with middle-class “luvvies”, and undeserving of the recent Government bailout.
I wanted to address this, and I wanted to in a way that would help explain how integral the arts are to all of us, whether you think they are or not.
You see, it would be easy for me to sit here and point out that lots of the people who work in the arts aren’t rich, famous, Hollywood types who make their Oscar speeches about some issue that for some reason seems to rub people the wrong way, or preaches about how more people should be donating to charity while signing a multi-million dollar contract for some superhero franchise. It would be easy to say that for every Robert Downy Jr. or Chris Evans there are thousands of people working busily behind the scenes, earning nowhere near as much as the stars do, from runners to grips, to lighting technicians. I could remind you that when you see a West End show you’re not only supporting those people up on the stage, but the director, the writer, the set dressers, and even further than that, the Front of House staff at the venue you’re in, the people behind the bar, the cleaners… but you know that already.
It doesn’t seem to serve me any use pointing these things out because people don’t seem to care. Most people don’t go to the theatre anyway, while the price of a cinema ticket is becoming extortion. And, be honest, when was the last time you went to an art gallery?
I get it. I do. The arts, for a lot of people, simply aren’t all that important. They don’t use them in their daily lives, really, and the rare occasions they do aren’t enough for it to be worth £1.5 billion in taxpayers' money.
After all, going back to that imagined average day, at what point do the arts ever come into play there?
When you wake up in the morning, wrapped up warm in your duvet, there isn’t a picture or pattern on it, is there? You don’t have photos or artwork on the walls. I mean, that would be absurd. And when you glance at your phone, checking out Facebook or Twitter, there aren’t any images, designs, writings, anything for you to look at. And your phone definitely isn’t in a nicely decorated little protection case.
Breakfast is a frustrating affair because it’s next to impossible to tell the difference between all the different options since they’re all just in plain white boxes with nothing visualising what might be inside. And it’s deathly quiet, too, because there no magical box by which sounds come out in the form of a catchy tune.
I’m almost certain none of you sing in the shower.
Your plain white overalls, devoid of any design or colour, are the only option for clothing, so you pop them on and then head to work in absolute silence. If you walk, there aren’t any podcasts or music to listen to, while your car stereo has never been switched on, and all the people on the bus don’t have a book or magazine to keep them company.
And, to make matters worse, there aren’t any adverts or billboards to draw your attention or catch your eye anywhere.
During your breaks, there’s nothing much to do but look forward to getting home at the end of a long hard day. At least then you can relax a bit, sit down and watch the plain white wall or listen to the water slowly dripping out of your tap. If you get bored with that you could always head down to the pub and watch the footie on the TV there. Of course, it’s hard to tell what’s going on, since there are no graphics to tell you what the score is, or even who’s playing, and all the players are wearing the same outfit.
At least, after all of that, you can make a nice dinner, following the instructions from your favourite cookbook… ah, no. I forgot books are designed and written, so, unfortunately, like most other sectors in the arts, they’re almost entirely unused by people on a day to day basis.
This most probably all sounds like I’m being patronising, but that’s only because I am. I don’t mean to be, it’s just that this weird idea that you don’t use the arts, or that the arts have no impact on your life, is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Quite clearly they do. And, like it or not, the only reason you have those things that you use to entertain you, to keep your spirits up, to keep you sane, help you through a difficult emotional moment, or even just to kill time, is because of the thousands and thousands of people who make them.
The arts aren’t a perfect industry, and there is a lot of elitism in it. It is a problem. Trust me, people in the arts know that more than most. But, please stop pretending like they aren’t an integral, important part of your life. Because they are, and that’s all there is to it.