The need to immerse ourselves in validating experiences of our broad personal narrative, albeit in a deliberately distant manner, has been a psychologically necessary part of our lives for time immemorial. In turn, the need to externalise and validate different aspects of ourselves and our lives has given credibility and a place to ‘The Arts’. It has provided opportunities for painters, actors, musicians, sculptors, dancers, and writers for thousands of years. The Arts, whilst potentially specific to a particular region, has its roots across all continents and all humanities’ social groups.
It is therefore unsurprising, if rather late in the day, that funding has been made available to continue this necessary tradition and ward off increasing levels of personal isolation; there is recognition that art, in its many forms, speaks to us simultaneously on an intimate individual level as well as with the social group in mind.
Recent financial assistance from the UK government during the Covid-19 crisis, in the form of grants and loans, is providing funding to a range of differently scaled and multi-medium productions in the Artistic sector, highlighting the ongoing importance of ‘the cultural’ in British life and society.
Generally, the funding needed to provide the shows, galleries, museums, and performances that are seen to be ‘world class’ is not derived from ticket sales alone. For many, sadly, there is a deficit at the best of times and a small but necessary-to-the-arts-survival proportion of the UK taxpayers money is ring-fenced in this arena. Sponsorship and business donations are a changeable source of necessary finance, as is local and national fundraising. In all, there is always a lot of finance that needs to be found or created to support the national ‘Arts’ sphere. Such is the need and expectation for a good year. Unfortunately, this year is already not a good year.
The current situation with Covid-19 and the nationwide lockdown has understandably left businesses and individuals in the artistic sector reliant on others. The majority of their financial burden is having to be supported by corporate or individual donations as well as the government’s grants. The opportunity to provide ongoing finance from ticket sales and swelling gallery crowds is sadly still a long way off.
The Arts Council England is currently managing the distribution of emergency grants and funding to the tune of £160 million. This has been provided to both national organisations and individual arts practitioners, in order to stabilise lives and works. These are people and institutions upon whom we depend to provide us with externalised, manageable reflections of our lives in all their glorious complexity.
Following the Response-to-Reset campaign, there is hope that the Art sector in the UK will not be a terminal victim of Covid-19. In the future there will be a national need to express the grief and trauma that this pandemic has created. There will be a need to process the changes it has made to our lives. There will be a need to reflect on ongoing social upheaval, and lives lived in fear of contact with others. For this, as well as for the eventual celebration of vanquishing a viral foe, we need the Arts for support and succour. Finance spent on ensuring the survival of our ephemeral and experiential Arts, as well as those historic and socially tangible forms, is money well spent on the emotional, social, soulful and spiritual aspects of our lives.